Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is the topic on everyone’s lips at the moment. The concept was first introduced a few years ago at the ITS European Congress in Helsinki, and it has revolutionised the way we think about transport. Though it is only in its infancy, it has the potential to completely change the transport landscape as we know it.
What is Mobility as a Service?
Put simply, MaaS is the integration of various transport services into a single mobility service, accessible on demand and with a single payment. Imagine an app which would allow you to access every form of transport in your area at your fingertips. This would let you travel from A to B via a bus, train, tram or any other kind of mobility solution, through one service subscription.
MaaS points to a future of transportation which moves away from personal car ownership. This, of course, would be a huge disruption to the status quo. What would have been unthinkable a few years ago is becoming increasingly viable as transport services become more sophisticated and the cost of running a car becomes less appealing. Indeed, studies have shown that fewer young people are learning to drive due to the associated costs. There are also environmental benefits to MaaS, as it supports the shift to more sustainable transport modes such as public transport or biking. Could MaaS make private cars a thing of the past?
MaaS in action
Though MaaS is a relatively recent concept, there are companies that are making great strides within the field. MaaS Global is a Finnish company whose Whim app is currently being tested in Helsinki. Whim, which will also begin testing in the UK, is a subscription-based app that allows users to plan their journey and choose from a number of different transport options. These include local public transport, rental cars, city bikes, taxis, long-distance trains and more.
As the first multimodal transport app, Whim is revolutionising transport in Helsinki and more stakeholders are signing up to get involved every day. This includes public transport authorities as well as private companies. Speaking about the potential of the app, CEO and founder Sampo Hietanen said ‘It will encourage the use of public transport, which means cleaner cities with fewer traffic jams. There’s huge business potential for transport providers, too, as more convenient mobility will bring them more customers. Our aim is to join forces with as many providers as possible because together we’ll be able to offer an amazing service.’
ENGIE – helping improve MaaS systems
MaaS has huge potential for the transport industry, and there is scope for companies from a wide range of sectors to get involved and help improve transportation services. ENGIE, one of the sponsors of the ITS European Congress in Strasbourg, is involved in a number of projects to improve MaaS services across Europe. ENGIE’s projects include one in Edinburgh, Scotland. Since 2004 Edinburgh buses have been equipped with ENGIE’s Bustracker technology and an Automatic Vehicle Location system. Currently, the system is installed in 721 buses. This system tracks the position of each bus in real time. This is displayed across 425 information boards installed at bus stops across the city. This information is also accessible to users via a bus tracker app that is available through smartphones. Over 25,000 users have downloaded the app and the city of Edinburgh estimates that by 2030, 30% of all daily transport in Edinburgh will be by bus.
ERTICO: Supporting the deployment of MaaS across Europe
Though the ramifications of MaaS could be huge, the concept is still in its early stages and faces numerous challenges. As one of its strategic priorities in ITS, ERTICO is working on ways to ensure that MaaS is deployed openly, consistently and effectively across Europe.
The MaaS Alliance, hosted by ERTICO, is a public-private partnership which is creating the foundations for a common approach to MaaS across Europe. For MaaS to thrive in practice, an open and collaborative approach will be necessary, one that allows both public and commercial interests to be met. This links well with the theme of this year’s ITS European Congress in Strasbourg, ‘ITS Beyond Borders’. To pursue its goal, the MaaS Alliance set up four initial working groups around MaaS: single market development, user needs, regulatory challenges, and technology. The Alliance have produced a white paper to outline its strategy and help co-ordinate MaaS initiatives throughout Europe moving forward. Their first results will be presented in the International Special Session 1 – ‘Mobility as a Service – new business and service approaches’ at the ITS European Congress in Strasbourg.
Join us in Strasbourg from 19–22 June for the 12th ITS European Congress
There will be plenty of exciting MaaS developments to discover in Strasbourg, so be sure not to miss out. To learn more about MaaS, attend Special Interest Session 18 – ‘Dragon’s Den for MaaS’, where MaaS business models will be placed under the microscope. There will also be approximately 20 sessions at the Congress dedicated to this topic, including Plenary Session 1: Mobility Services – from transport to mobility. We look forward to seeing you in Strasbourg!