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Mobility as a Service Explained: Definition, Business Model, and Technology

The global population living in urban areas is estimated at 55%. This number is expected to grow to 68% by 2050. This increase in urbanisation will add to existing problems of traffic congestion. However, building more costly infrastructure is only a temporary solution. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) can help people shift from privately owned cars to more sustainable types of transport like public transport, taxis, car rental and car or bicycle sharing.

What Is Mobility as a Service?

MaaS is a transportation model that integrates various types of transport options into a single service, which can be offered on-demand or packed into subscriptions. This model can be applied to a wide range of transport modes, including public transport, taxis, car sharing, electric bikes and scooters, and many more.

Potentially, MaaS can help eliminate the need for private vehicle ownership. MaaS provides commuters with transparency, ensuring commuters get information about transport options, routes, and pricing. MaaS is also a great solution for cities, because it can help reduce traffic congestion, optimize the maintenance of transport systems, and improve data-driven city services. 

Advantages of Mobility as a Service

There are many different benefits you can gain by shifting transport infrastructure towards a Mobility as a Service model.

Higher vehicle utilization

Higher utilisation means that overall, fewer cars need to be on city roads. MaaS services can reduce the overall number of vehicles on the road. Some people don’t use their private vehicles on a regular basis. Vehicles are just sitting idle in a garage or in work parking lots. MaaS services can put your car to use, enabling other people to use your car with car sharing and ride hailing apps. This also reduces the amount of valuable and costly parking spaces.

Focus on public transport infrastructure

MaaS reduces the need to continually build bigger road networks by reducing the amount of cars on the road. This enables cities to invest more in public transport infrastructure. Higher investment can provide more frequent and timely transport services. Frequent transport services can benefit a larger population and create a more reliable end-user experience.

Transport alternatives

MaaS enables organizations to offer alternative means of transportation. Employees can plan their journey by logging into an online platform. The platform recommends several options based on desired criteria. Options might include car sharing, walking, electric bike, scooter, or public transport. Alternative means of transportation can help organizations save on transport costs per individual employee.

Reduced risk for fleets

Car fleet managers sometimes need to maintain and manage vehicles on tight budgets. A MaaS transport model can enable fleet managers to reduce the risks of managing and maintaining a vehicle fleet. MaaS enables you to reduce the number of vehicles in an organization’s fleet. Less vehicles means the organization has a lower risk of traffic incidents, and lower risk from an insurance perspective.

How Mobility as a Service Works

MaaS is powered by mobile apps, big data and IoT. These technologies provide real-time information and personalised capabilities for travelers. 

  • Mobile app—acts as the front-end of a MaaS system. Through this interface, consumers plan, book, and pay for their trip.
  • Big data—monitoring traveler behavior on a large scale improves user experience and provides consumers with customized solutions.
  • IoT—connected devices and sensors are used by vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology, connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles to analyze the surroundings and improve transit operations.

Ways Cities Are Adopting Mobility as a Service

The following trends are likely to have the biggest effect on the development of integrated mobility in cities.

  • Smart maintenance scheduling—big data analytics enables cities to prepare for necessary infrastructure changes. Smart sensors send repair updates to transport operators, These updates prompt real-time responses and enable smart maintenance scheduling.
  • Reduces congestion—MaaS provides alternative transport such as carpooling, scooter rental, car sharing, and bicycle, while making public transport more accessible. The expected result is a reduced number of private cars.
  • Improves customer experience—dedicated marketplaces provide a level of customization that enables MaaS operators to target travelers of all ages, economic status, and professions. 
  • Data-driven services—MaaS systems use sensors to gather and analyze information from all transport networks. This information, when integrated with MaaS platforms,  enables cities to improve efficiency with actionable insights.
  • Improve traffic management—MaaS platforms enable real-time routing of traffic by integrating GPS and user information with city operations. This can improve the quality of navigation services and prevent traffic jams.

Mobility as a Service Business Model

MaaS business models are different from traditional transportation models. MaaS companies outsource tasks like infrastructure management, UX and application development. As a result they can focus more on improving customer support and experience.

Infrastructure business model

The goal of an infrastructure business is to build and manage repetitive operational tasks. MaaS companies do not maintain or operate transportation infrastructure. They outsource infrastructure management to other public and private companies. These companies offer lower cost tanks to government subsidies. This approach enables MaaS companies to focus more on customer support, marketing, and billing.

Customer relationship management

The goal of customer relationship management is to find potential customers and establish relationships with them. Since MaaS companies don’t manage infrastructure, they can focus on branding and customer segmentation. By focusing on customers, MaaS companies can leverage the investments made over the years. This also enables them to focus on improving their key assets.

Product innovation management

The goal of product innovation management is to think of new services and products and how to release them to market. Innovation requires creative thinking and speed. Smaller and dynamic companies are usually better at innovations. MaaS companies can help public transport providers ensure a constant supply of new services and technologies. This includes modern payment platforms, or grocery delivery to transit stations. MaaS operators can also outsource UX and platform development.

Conclusion

More and more cities around the world are adopting MaaS. However, MaaS offerings are different from city to city. Despite the difference, there are basic components that every MaaS system must integrate. This includes IoT, big data, and advanced payment options. MaaS infrastructure should complement other mobility services like public transport, taxi, car and bicycle sharing.

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