Smart City Mobility

Smart cities, mobility, and the road in between

What Mobility as a Service Means for Consumers, Cities and Transport Providers

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solutions integrate all stages of the journey of a commuter, including trip planning, booking, e-tickets, and payments. They offer a commuter one, user-friendly application that allows them to travel via transport methods like train, bus, and taxi.

MaaS systems are comprised of smart city technologies like mobile apps, which acts as the front-end; big data infrastructure that collects data from travelers and uses it to optimize services; and physical devices including the Internet of Things (IoT), Connected Vehicles (CVs) and Autonomous Vehicles (AVs).

From the perspective of the consumer, MaaS provides transparency about routes, transport options, and pricing. It allows passengers to pay for transport via a plan (a pack of services available for a period of time), or pay on demand for services with top-up cards. For cities, MaaS can reduce congestion, optimize the maintenance of transport systems, and power data-driven city services. For public transport networks, MaaS gives commuters more freedom and control over their route.

In this article you'll learn about:

What Is Mobility as a Service?

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a broad range of ideas that aim to make transportation—be it public or private—more simple, efficient, and convenient via end-to-end digital solutions. Mobility as a Service solutions integrate all stages of the commuter’s journey—trip planning, booking, e-tickets, payment transactions—and wrap them up into one, user-friendly application. 

Behind this convenience is a complex infrastructure that requires advanced technology and cooperation between the private and public sectors. Mobility as a Service platforms attempt to create one app to rule all sectors and methods of transport while factoring in real-time conditions and the traveler’s personal preferences.

How Does MaaS Work?

Connectivity determines whether a Mobility as a Service solution will succeed or fail. To achieve contemporary visions of mobility as a service, three technologies must be seamlessly connected:

  • Mobile App: Acts as the front-end of the Mobility as a Service experience. This is where consumers plan, book, and pay for their trip.
  • Big Data: Tracking traveler behavior on a large scale helps improve user experience and provides consumers with tailor-made solutions. Big data, analyzed by AI, optimize the Mobility as a Service solution and lead to new and improved services.
  • Internet of Things (IoT), connected and autonomous vehicles: Connected devices and sensors deployed in cities, Connected Vehicles (CVs) and Autonomous Vehicles (AVs), and the use of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology which analyzes the vehicle’s surroundings and improves transit operations, all feed into Mobility as a Service platforms as additional data sources.

What Does MaaS Mean for Consumers?

What if every morning instead of sliding into your car and heading into a traffic jam, you could hop into the fastest and closest mode of transport, whichever it may be? Makers of innovative Mobility as a Service apps, like Moovit and Whim, are making it happen. 

Mobility as a Service apps provide people with convenient routes and transport options while creating transparency. As opposed to booking and paying for all transport options separately, mobility as a service enables new integrated payment methods:

  • ‘Plan’ option: A monthly subscription customized to the user’s transport needs, such as urban commute, family, business, and casual plans. Transport options may include buses, trains, cabs, rental cars, car sharing, etc.
  • ‘Pay on demand’ option: one payment for all travel expenses. For example, a consumer whose optimal route includes a cab, a train, and a scooter, will pay once for all three through the mobile app.

What Does MaaS Mean for Cities?

Mobility as a Service offers more than convenience; smart cities cannot be envisioned nor designed without taking MaaS into account. Mobility as a Service has several strategic impacts on urban transformation:

  • Reduces congestion: Mobility as a Service apps make it easier to use public transport while also providing easy alternatives such as carpooling, car sharing, bicycle, and scooter rental. This should reduce the number of private cars, resulting in less traffic and less pollution.
  • Optimizes maintenance: Live prediction data give cities the power to prepare for unavoidable infrastructure changes. Smart sensors send regular repair updates to transport operators, prompting immediate responses and allowing for smart maintenance scheduling.
  • Improves customer experience: Digital transportation marketplaces provide powerful customization, which enables Mobility as a Service operators to cater to commuters of all ages, professions, and economic status. 
  • Creates data-driven services: Information harvested from all transport networks integrated into the Mobility as a Service platform will give cities the insight they need to improve efficiency and provide new mobility services.
  • Improve traffic management: With Mobility as a Service, traffic can be re-routed in real-time. A mobility network integrating GPS, user suggestions, and integration with city operations can improve the quality of route-finding services and prevent traffic jams.

What Does MaaS Mean for Transport Service Providers?

Technological changes in the transport industry are solving problems in connectivity and integration, creating all-encompassing transport systems that are easier to manage and operate. Traditional forms of transportation are seeing vast improvements in infrastructure, operations, and customer retention. 

Implementation of Mobility as a Service in public transportation networks gives commuters more freedom and control over their route. While public transportation remains an integral part of the mobility infrastructure, commuters often opt for multimodal transport apps that take them through all stages of the journey.

In order to provide commuters with one seamless transport journey, mobility as a service unites all types of transport service providers. Train, bus, taxi, scooter, and bicycle services become standardized transport providers, negotiating for pricing with Mobility as a Service operators. Transport service providers offer application programming interfaces that stream real-time data into the mobility as a service app, where services are packaged into plans suited for the app’s end users.

Mobility as a Service: Putting On-Demand Transport to Practice

Mobility as a Service platforms are a real-life implementation of the concept of on-demand mobility. While on-demand mobility presents a vision of interconnected transport methods that are commoditized and digitally accessible to consumers, mobility as a service makes this a reality, tying together three pieces of the mobility puzzle: cities, transport operators, and consumers. 

As MaaS is adopted by more cities, operators, and end-users, it will gradually turn the vision of on-demand mobility into a reality that will transform individual lives, cities, and the transport industry. Just like the digital economy transformed the press, entertainment, and education and turned the world into a global village, mobility as a service has the potential to turn disparate modes of transport into a global Internet of personal mobility.