What Is Mobility as a Service?
Mobility as a service (MaaS) is a range of digital solutions designed to make transportation more efficient and simple. MaaS aims to integrate all aspects of customer journeys into a single, user-friendly service or application. This includes trip planning, booking, ticketing, payment, and updates.
MaaS is made possible through a complex infrastructure of advanced technologies and cooperation between public and private sectors. Mobility as a Service platforms leverage these technologies and this cooperation to create services and applications that apply real-time conditions and traveler preferences to deliver efficient transportation.
How Mobility as a Service Works
The primary technologies powering MaaS are big data, mobile applications, and the Internet of things (IoT). Here are some examples of the main technologies that power MaaS ecosystems:
- Big data—collected from customer profiles and devices. Data includes demographics, payment information, and location. It enables a variety of analytics and enables platforms to predict travel options and conditions, enabling services to make reliable recommendations.
- IoT—devices collect and deliver data for analytics. Devices can report a variety of information, including weather conditions, number of passengers, and route positioning.
- Mobile applications—enable travellers to connect from anywhere. Apps can collect traveller information, alert travellers to current conditions and provide an interface for customer interactions.
These technologies can supply real-time data, aggregate customer data points, and provide information to customers in a way that was previously impossible. This is particularly true when data is combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning. These tools enable services to dynamically predict travel conditions and can be used to automate much of the work required for MaaS.
Advantages of Mobility as a Service
Mobility as a Service can provide numerous benefits, both to transportation authorities and to consumers.
More efficient vehicle use
MaaS can help communities decrease the number of vehicles in operation by increasing the efficiency of use. Rather than each individual relying on a personal vehicle, MaaS promotes the use of shared and public transportation services.
This helps reduce traffic congestion and pollution generated by vehicles. It can also help communities reclaim space previously dedicated to parking lots or roads.
Opportunities to recover asset costs
MaaS, in the form of ride-sharing or vehicle lending, can help vehicle owners offset some of the costs associated with ownership. For example, owners could rent vehicles like they might a vacation home. This can be especially beneficial for frequent travellers who would otherwise end up paying for a resource that they are unable to use for large chunks of time.
Focus on public transport
By supporting a decrease in the demand for private vehicles, MaaS can help redirect funding to public transportation programs and other community efforts. When public transportation is better supported and funded it is more likely to be used by travellers and can be efficient than private transport.
As an additional benefit, when public transportation is more widely adopted, the overall cost per passenger goes down. This enables travellers to save significant amounts of money without sacrificing time or convenience.
Ways Cities Are Adopting Mobility as a Service
Many cities have already begun adopting MaaS and using it to improve their operations and infrastructure. Below are a few practices cities are applying.
Turning competitors into partners
MaaS can be used by cities to leverage partnerships with private companies and to ensure that areas aren’t flooded with unnecessary services. This benefits the private sector by constraining transportation markets and benefits the city by ensuring that services are offered in a regulated way. This also helps ensure that travel is safe, fair, and appealing to customers.
For cities and consumers to fully embrace MaaS, they must establish trust in the services provided. Vendors must prove that they can be responsible for transport devices and traveller data. Additionally, consumers must be protected when using services. For example, a car owner is unlikely to participate in care sharing if they have no protection against damage or theft caused by the renter.
Through relationships with vendors, cities can help securely vet passengers and drivers, ensuring that shared transportation services are safer. At the same time, MaaS vendors can help support city services, for example, reporting accident locations or ensuring that speed limits are obeyed.
Jump the data hurdles
Data security is a major concern for many consumers and organizations. Consumers want to ensure that their data remains private and is not used or sold without their permission. Meanwhile, organizations need to be able to collect and secure data to operate effectively. While cities may not be able to directly control these aspects, city officials do have the power to enforce rules relating to data.
When adopting and overseeing MaaS platforms, city governments can guide how these platforms are implemented and ensure that the rights of citizens are protected with minimal barriers to service providers. City officials can also serve as intermediaries between companies and consumers, ensuring that any data issues that arise are solved fairly.
Conclusion: Why Mobility as a Service Is the Future of Transportation
As the availability of mobility services increases, shared and public modes of transportation will become increasingly convenient and efficient. This change eliminates the two greatest barriers for many travellers and will encourage many to begin adopting these services with greater frequency.
A popular example of this adoption is the recent explosion of shared bike and scooter services. When devices are made readily available and can easily be rented or returned, traveller use drastically increases. This same principle applies to transportation of all kinds.
Another influencing factor is many consumers’ increasing concerns about pollution and resource use. Personal vehicles and inefficient transportation significantly affect the quality of air in areas of use and can have equally negative impacts on wildlife and greenspaces. Likewise, roads take up significant amounts of space and require seemingly constant maintenance.
MaaS helps reduce these inefficiencies and the overall resources needed for transportation. It can help travellers and transportation providers deliver the same or higher quality services with less pollution and fewer environmental demands. This makes it an inherently appealing option for eco-conscious individuals and companies.