Trains, streetcars, private vehicles and subway systems have defined urban life and connected our cities in the past century. More recently, ride-hailing providers such as Uber, Cabify and Lyft, among others, as well as systems in which bikes, cars and scooters are shared between users, have disrupted the transportation sector and provided urban dwellers new schemes of mobility.
As the variety of urban mobility options keeps evolving, the way in which we access and connect these systems does as well. Nowadays, transport modes usually operate independently from each other but this could radically change with the rise of Mobility- as-a- Service (MaaS). This concept is an alternative to the supply-based transportation which have been used to in the past as revolves around the provision of a wide range of mobility solutions based on travel demand and the possibility to integrate them. As it operates from a unified platform, the advantages that MaaS offers are multiple because citizens have the choice to mix and match mass transport with new and on-demand services. Mobility-as-a Service has the potential to integrate rail, bus, taxis as well as bike-sharing, car-sharing, among others, and make multi-modal transportation seamless, efficient and comfortable.
Data-driven integrated mobility
MaaS has emerged in part due to the immense production of data (big data) generated by mobile and connected devices and platforms, which by 2020 are envisioned to collect 2.3 zettabytes of data each year. Urban mobility, once heavily reliant on infrastructure, now also highly depends on information. The collection of data has created a vast pool of knowledge that facilitates the link between a user and his or her mobility preferences around a city, as well as provided access to real-time information which measures location and frequency of mass transportation systems. With a data-informed mobility system, citizens can monitor and synchronize different options and optimize their daily commutes, saving a considerable amount of time. It is forecasted that by 2023, the use of MaaS platforms will be able to save its users 90 hours a year.
Flexible and accessible urban mobility
Besides the integration of different means of transportation modes, another key aspect of MaaS is the unification of transactions and information, such as payment and user information, under a single interface. The simplification of these processes under MaaS allows mobility to be more user-friendly and flexible to each citizens’ needs. For example, the mobile app Whim, launched in Finland by MaaS Global, offers three different payment plans which range from pay-per-ride to unlimited access to car rental, taxi, local public mass transport, local city bike as well as access to car sharing.
In addition to flexibility, Whim offers competitive prices which are below the monthly spending that implies owning a private car in Helsinki. Integrated, flexible and accessible mobility could revolutionize how we move daily. MaaS is expected to have a profound impact on car ownership around the world as users could be inclined to mix and match options instead of risking being immobilized in traffic or spending time searching for parking space available.
The implementation of MaaS
A revealing report by Juniper Research indicates that the implementation of MaaS will replace 2.3 billion urban private car journeys annually by 2023. As the implementation of MaaS platforms increases around the world, the sector is expected to be worth over one trillion euro by 2030. This signifies a big opportunity for the private sector; actually big companies of the automobile industry such as BMW and Toyota are investing in research and development of Mobility-as-a-Service platforms. As for the public sector, MaaS can represent part of the solution to reduce congestion and make mass transit more efficient and sustainable.
In order to successfully implement MaaS in cities, good governance is essential. Helsinki was ranked the #1 city in the world in the state of readiness for the implementation of large-scale MaaS due to the coordination between stakeholders from the private and public sector. On the other hand, it is predicted that the implementation of MaaS will be slower in the US due to and the “fragmentation” between different levels of government, regional and federal.
The development of Mobility-as-a-Service could lead to more efficient, time and cost saving urban mobility if it is coordinated among various stakeholders. With this purpose, SUM Bilbao 19 will encourage the dialogue and debate between representatives from the private and public sector as well as discuss the opportunities and challenges related to the future of MaaS.