Travel is an essential component of modern life. Jumping on a jet to go on package holiday became commonplace in the same century that powered flight had first been achieved. Mass public forms of transport in the developed world started to give way to individual private car ownership, where the only restrictions were uncongested roads to run on and petrol in the tank. In a more environmentally aware world with the communication and digital capacity to serve the needs, transport is changing away from individual ownership models to ones based on usage. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) underpins some of these developments.
What is MaaS?
The MaaS Alliance provides an agreed definition of Mobility as a Service.
MaaS is the integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand. To meet a customer’s request, a MaaS operator facilitates a diverse menu of transport options, be they public transport, ride-, car- or bike-sharing, taxi or car rental/lease, or a combination thereof.
For the user, MaaS can offer added value through use of a single application to provide access to mobility, with a single payment channel instead of multiple ticketing and payment operations. MaaS should be the best value proposition, by helping users meet their mobility needs and solve the inconvenient parts of individual journeys.
Successful MaaS services brings new business models and ways to operate the various transport options. This is advantageous for transport operators with improved user and demand information and opportunities to serve unmet demand.
Ultimately, the aim of MaaS is to provide an alternative to the use of the private car that may be as convenient, more sustainable, help to reduce congestion and constraints in transport capacity, and can be even cheaper.
What does MaaS look like?
While there is a common definition, MaaS currently comes in a wide range of shapes and sizes. All are based on computing models typically with app interfaces. Often, they source available travel information from a range of different or singular type of operators and present these as the choices for the user.
User satisfaction depends on the datasets available and their expectation. In big cities the issue can be that the uber/train/bus won’t arrive for half an hour; in rural areas it can be there is no uber/train/bus service at all.
MaaS is currently a work in progress with the necessary building blocks being created that will revolutionise travel.