Mobility as a Service (MaaS) involves buying mobility services based on consumers’ needs instead of buying the means of transport. The platform provides an intermodal journey planner, a booking system, a single payment method, and real time information. The current level of cooperation within a MaaS system can vary from one situation to the other. Helsinki has announced the intention to eliminate the need for privately owned cars by 2020 through the implementation of MaaS.

How to adjust our transport and land-use planning strategies?

Activity space is the part of the environment which a traveller is using for his/her activities, and can also be thought of as an approximation of the mental map of the traveller (Schönfelder & Axhausen, 2003). The mental map stresses the spatial knowledge about activity opportunities and their relative positions and connections, while the activity repertoire looks at the type, quality and costs of different activities or activity types at different locations. Mobile communications disconnect activities from specific locations, leading to increasing flexibility in timing and location of activities: mobility patterns are less structured and less predictable. This has made it even more difficult to assess travel decision processes.

• Mobility as a Service involves buying mobility services based on consumers’ needs.

• The platform provides an intermodal journey planner, a booking system, a single payment method, and real time information.

• Current levels of actual integration vary a lot.

• Helsinki intends to eliminate the need for privately owned cars through MaaS.

The development of apps that offer an increasingly wide range of mobility services can eventually result in a move to Mobility as a Service (MaaS), which can be defined as (Kamargianni et al., 2015):

(…) buying mobility services based on consumers’ needs instead of buying the means of transport. Via “Mobility as a Service” systems consumers can buy mobility services that are provided by the same or different operators by using just one platform and a single payment. The platform provides an intermodal journey planner (providing combinations of different transport modes: car-sharing, car rental, underground, rail, bus, bike-sharing, taxi), a booking system, a single payment method (single payment for all transport modes), and real time information.

Two main payment models are possible (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobility_as_a_service_(transport)):

  • In a monthly subscription model, users pay a monthly fee. This can enable tailored mobility packages based on individual family needs, without removing all flexibility. In turn, they receive of bundle of services, for instance unlimited public transport user and a given number of taxi kilometres. The service is guaranteed by a “MaaS operator”, who purchases the transport services in bulk. Compared to individual users, the operator probably has more market power when dealing with the individual providers of transport services, and will thus be able to negotiate lower prices for a given level of service. From the providers’ point of view, an advantage of bulk purchases is that they can demand a base price for their services that does not fluctuate with daily utilization rates. In other words, this type of MaaS shifts parts of the risks from the individual operator to the MaaS operator, who is likely to be better equipped to deal with them (for instance, if, thanks to its size, it has better access to credit than individual taxi service operators. Moreover, if the fluctuations in demand at the level of individual operators are not highly correlated, the daily fluctuations will cancel out at the level of the MaaS operator).
  • In a pay-as-you-go model, each leg of the journey is priced by the individual transport service provider. The main role of the mobile application is then to provide the users with an interface to all services in the area. This model is better adapted for environments with a higher number of irregular users (such as tourists or where there is a high modal share of individual cars).

In practice, the actual level of cooperation within a MaaS system can vary from one situation to another (Kamargianni et al., 2015).

For instance, one operational system (Moovel) already provides countrywide integration of public transport, car sharing, car rental, national rail, bike sharing and taxi, all of which are provided by separate operators. However, integration is not comprehensive yet, as the bike sharing system is not integrated in the intermodal journey planning, booking and payment system. Also, ticketing is not integrated (Moovel is currently also expanding in the US – see http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/226685-mercedes-benz-parent-daimler-launches-us-mobility-service-called-moovel).

Another example is a start-up (Ubigo) which, within a given area, purchases urban travel volumes from the operators, and then provides combined mobility to the households, on one single platform. Households can subscribe to prepaid packages that are tailored to their needs for each participating mode (public transport, car sharing, car rental, taxi). If households exceed their budget, they are billed for the additional trips. ICT, payment, ticketing and car access are integrated in a single app (International Transport Forum (2015), Press Release, UbiGo (Sweden) and St. Lawrence Seaway (Canada) share prestigious transport innovation award). After an initial 6 months pilot project with 70 households, the project is now being rolled out on a larger scale. The pilot project revealed that one of the main challenges in setting up MaaS services is to convince public transport authorities to open up for a concession/reseller agreement (E-mail correspondence between Hans Arby of Ubigo and Laurent Franckx of VITO on 09 June 2016).

As a further point, according to Karmagianni et al. (2015) MaaS services must also focus on the way in which they collect relevant information from their target groups;
“Building on the concept of collaborative customisation, the key to successful package creation is extracting as much information as possible from the user in order to tailor the bundles to their needs. However, consumers are only able to answer a limited number of questions before they get irritated with the process and discontinue. This is why it is important to understand the target market before creating the questions that will assist package creation. Minimising the burden to users increases the response rate to each question. In the case of MaaS-London, this means identifying the key market segments and factors that place individuals in each of these segments”.

In all the schemes Kamargianni et al. (2015) have documented, the public transport operator and the car sharing company are the core partners, which confirms the key complementarity between these modes as alternative to private car use. Moreover, “it stands out that in most integrated projects there is only one service provider per mode per city. In some cases this is due to the fact that there is only one service provider, but in others the cooperation is only with one selected one.” For large metropolitan areas with a large number of service providers, this could be an important barrier.

(https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/helsinki-setting-pace-future-mobility-catherine-kargas). In this concept, residents would pay a fee for mobility that depends on their usage profile; e.g. urban commuter, business, or family package.

Kamargianni, M., Matyas, M., Li, W. & Schäfer, A. (2015), Feasibility study for “Mobility as a Service” concept in London, Funded by DfT Transport Technology Research Innovations Grant (T-­‐TRIG) https://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/energy/docs/fs-maas-compress-final

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