What is MaaS?

The easiest part of defining MaaS is that it’s an acronym, the abbreviated form of Mobility as a Service.

Now to the trickier part, describing what MaaS is. Or, perhaps more correctly, what MaaS might be. Though there have been numerous attempts at a partial MaaS, in its ideal form it is still very much an idea. And that is true of Australia. MaaS isn’t here yet, but Australians do have a desire for it, as shown in the iMOVE project, the MaaS and On-Demand Transport – Consumer Research and Report.

But what is *the* ideal form MaaS will take? It will allow a person to easily plan their travel from A to B, via as many, or as few, transport modes as possible. A traveller might have the options of choosing the quickest, cheapest, easiest, or most scenic journey. Perhaps ‘least stressful’ could be an option.

It will be both bookable and payable via a single app, and that one app will guide the traveller on their journey. Although there may indeed be several transit points, and several transport modes, journeys taken by MaaS customers put their desired outcome front and centre.

What modes will be available?

Again, in a perfect MaaS world, all available transport modes will be in the mix for customers. That could be bus, train, ferry, tram, ride sharing, bike sharing, e-bikes, car hire, taxi, on-demand public transport, electric scooter, rickshaw, Segway, walking … the higher the number of modes, the more flexibility there is for customers, and the more attractive the system for both customers and providers.

It will include both public and private transport. Service providers will have to be willing to enter into a shared accounting system in order to be paid for its share of the services provided.

Crucially, these providers must be willing to share their data. If the trip is to be as seamless as possible, if delays or issues along a route need to be conveyed to the customer, if the MaaS system is to be of optimal efficiency, effectiveness, and convenience, then data MUST be shared.

Without shared data it is again the separate networks competing for primacy, rather than putting customers as the core concern.



How will customers pay for MaaS?

Before we get into payment options, let’s revisit the definition of MaaS. The best one we’ve come across is this, from Cubic Transportation’s white paper, Mobility as a Service: Putting Transit Front and Center of the Conversation:

… a combination of public and private transportation services within a given regional environment that provides holistic, optimal and people-centred travel options, to enable end-to-end journeys paid by the user as a single charge, and which aims to achieve public equity objectives.

That single charge could be:

• A pay-as-you-go charge for a single trip, or a single week/month
• A weekly/monthly subscription charge

The subscriptions could be offered as numerous product bundles, varying from an ‘all you can meet’, to others with a smaller choice of transport modes available.

The benefits of MaaS

As we’ve noted above, the prime benefit of MaaS is to make commuting easy, enjoyable, and efficient for customers. Shared data will also bring efficiencies and custom for providers.

And if all of that is achieved, a major side benefit of MaaS is a reduction in the use of private cars. Particularly that primary driver of traffic congestion, the single occupant car. Other side benefits? Less congestion equals greater safety, a reduction in air pollution, and reduction in feelings of stress by commuters.

If done well, MaaS will also see an increase in active transport and senses of community. Studies have also shown that where there is a rise in active transport there is an accompanying lift in local commerce.

MaaS will be good for commuters, community, and commerce. It might not be available in Australia yet, but it is coming!

iMOVE MaaS projects

ITSA MaaS Project Image

iMOVE already has one MaaS-related project, in fact it’s our first completed project. In it we surveyed people, looking to find out only what their desire was for MaaS, but also what they knew about it.

Find out more about the project at MaaS and On-Demand Transport – Consumer Research and Report and Mobility as a Service: does Australia want it?

We’re also in the final stages of organising another MaaS project, one that we’re quite excited about. We expect to be able to announce the project, and release details, very soon.

Our articles and news stories about MaaS