Public transit is an area of turbulent changes – in the past 30 years, we’ve witnessed changes in infrastructure planning, technological advancements, and an overall shift in public transport usage connected to the growing urbanization on a global scale. MaaS, or Mobility as a Service, is one of the more recent business models in the tech field; one that Modeshift is part of, and one you need to monitor closely as it’s proving to be an important feature of reshaping the industry for the future. Success in a field so new and constantly evolving is a tricky thing to predict, but there are a few factors that come into play for a MaaS model to succeed. Let’s get to the details.
What is MaaS?
MaaS provides public transit users with an all-in-one solution to plan and pay for their journeys all from the same mobile application – and across as many modes of transport available in their city as possible (parking, bus, rail, metro, rental scooters & bikes, taxis & other door-to-door services, carpooling, interurban buses, etc.). Instead of using a different app for each type of transport, MaaS users will get the whole package in one convenient and secure application – saving them time & money, and providing them with a powerful tool to make the daily commute easier and quicker.
The goals that the MaaS system attempts to achieve are ambitious. Creating an affordable and accessible transportation ecosystem has always been challenging but MaaS can help solve this puzzle. Apart from the obvious benefits of such a system, cities can reap more benefits: minimizing accidents, improving air quality, even reducing traffic congestions.
This is a challenging endeavor, yet one that makes the best value proposition for people of all walks of life. Such a good value proposition that they would want to abandon their personal vehicles and become regular public transit users. The potential of MaaS is yet to be fully realized, but following some observations we’ve made and taking into account our own expertise with our own projects, we can point out the 4 aspects that can help create a working MaaS ecosystem in cities globally.
The 4 keys to success for MaaS
✔️ Choosing an authoritative MaaS operator
Who is the best candidate? Simply put – an organization that has the power and funding to support all of the processes involved in the implementation of the MaaS ecosystem, as well as the required regulatory changes. Most often, this is the city municipality or transit agency.
The MaaS operator should be able to make the initial investment decisions, too. And to make things even more difficult – it should have enough authority in terms of social influence to create anticipation about the system and inspire trust in citizens (we’ll explain why in a bit).
✔️ Improving the regulatory framework
In the past decade, the modes of transportation in cities have dramatically grown and shifted, and MaaS is the only platform that can create a cohesive and connected travel experience. This is easier said than done – as it sometimes means serious improvements in legislation and infrastructure, even on a national scale. While many cities are relatively autonomous when it comes to their public transit systems, there are basic regulations that need to be set in place to make sure the new system works as intended:
Creating a framework that grants all transport operators equal access to the platform
Not a single transit operator should be left out – which means a framework that creates equal opportunities for participation. The only prerequisite is that the transit operator should work with an open API in order to be able to integrate seamlessly within the MaaS ecosystem.
- Setting up fair unilateral contractual obligations
- Transit operators, the MaaS operator, and customers are equal players and should all benefit from the MaaS ecosystem
- Ensuring security processes are compliant with local and national laws
- From data storage to payment processing, everything should meet the latest security standards and even create new, better ones
- Ensuring the service meets the goal of accessibility & inclusivity
- All customers should have the same level of access to the system – this includes unbanked people, people from minorities, people with disabilities, people with lower income, etc. The MaaS operator needs to work with local organizations to better understand the needs of these groups in order to provide adequate service.
✔️ Implementing an open data exchange between transit operators in the MaaS ecosystem
A successful MaaS project relies heavily on the open, real-time communication between all modes of transit involved. In order to create an all-in-one mobility product that meets the expectations of users (to move from A to B in the easiest, quickest, least expensive way possible), the MaaS platform should have access not only to schedules and fleet availability but also to real-time data about every vehicle. This means all participants should be using open APIs and should be willing to share their information on the prerequisite that this will pave the way to better operations and more revenue.
✔️ Facilitating the adoption of the new MaaS platform
Providing the best possible experience for first-time users is imperative for success. Real-life examples show that usage declines quickly if there isn’t a proper communication strategy in place. What does this mean?
- Building on the MaaS operator authority to inspire trust in the new service
- Creating not only a working mobile application but a finished (and polished) product, even on a smaller scale initially
- Creating best-value propositions through a flexible fare system
- Creating awareness through targeted campaigns
- Providing customers with all the information they need even before the launch, in an easy-to-digest format
- Keeping an open line of communication 24/7 to tackle critical issues in a timely manner
- Constantly improving the system based on aggregated data
Aiming at a carbon-neutral future: it’s possible
The ecological impact of people ditching their personal vehicles for an integrated multi-modal public transit ecosystem will be huge. MaaS should be part of the strategy of every city aiming at carbon-neutrality. Apart from the cleaner air in metropolitan areas, this means less light and noise pollution.
MaaS has the potential to change the way we travel – but first, we need to set up the processes which will drive the change in the next decade or two. The process will not be easy, but our ultimate goal is to see MaaS transcend borders and become the new normal. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us so we can talk about your MaaS journey!