The term Mobility as a Service (MaaS) means many things to many people, with multiple definitions in use.
Here are some of the commonly cited definitions from key organisations:
Cubic: Mobility as a Service is a combination of public and private transportation services within a given regional environment that provides holistic, optimal and people-centered travel options, to enable end-to-end journeys paid for by the user as a single charge, and which aims to achieve key public equity objectives.
MaaS Global: MaaS brings all means of travel together. It combines options from different transport providers into a single mobile service, removing the hassle of planning and one-off payments. MaaS is a carefree, environmentally sound alternative to owning a car. It works out the best option for every journey – whether that’s a taxi, public transport, a car service or a bike share.
Deloitte: At its core, MaaS relies on a digital platform that integrates end-to-end trip planning, booking, electronic ticketing, and payment services across all modes of transportation, public or private.
MaaS Alliance: The integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand. To meet a customer’s request, a MaaS operator facilitates a diverse menu of transport options, be they public transport, ride-, car- or bike-sharing, taxi or car rental/lease, or a combination thereof.
Polis suggest that some use it more liberally to describe a transport service (such as car-sharing, ridehailing or cycle hire), an integrated traveller information service (e.g. a trip planner) or an integrated transport payment system (such as a Smartcard).
If MaaS incorporates multiple modes into a single application, the user benefits could include:
• Personalised services which recognise individual mobility needs
• Ease of transactions and payments
• Dynamic journey management and journey planning.
It could also make it easier for travellers to make better decisions on which mode to choose based on their own priorities which could include cost, speed or health benefits. A fully comprehensive MaaS offer could mean that ownership of private vehicles is no longer necessary for more people and customers’ mobility needs are instead provided by a range of services through a single platform: usership replaces ownership.
For transport authorities, there is potential that MaaS could offer increased access to data and insight on mobility behaviour. This could allow for more effective planning of services and infrastructure in order to meet present and future demand, as well as helping to deliver improved policy outcomes.
Where a transport authority is the MaaS provider, it could offer a mechanism for improving customer relationships, providing more accurate and up to date information, including during disruption, and enable a greater diversity of products and services to be offered through a single system.
The potential to shift travel behaviour through the use of MaaS could help to encourage greater use of public transport, active and sustainable travel choices.
Evidence from some of the MaaS pilots demonstrates that these behaviours increase with the use of MaaS.
This could help to improve public health, social inclusion and air quality while reducing carbon emissions and congestion.
The shift away from private car ownership and use towards public transport, active travel and taxi and Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) could have positive impacts for air quality and carbon emissions.
While the impacts would be greatest with high public and active transport mode shares, low emission vehicles are increasingly being used for taxi and PHV services, and additional policy measures are being implemented to accelerate their uptake.
For example, in Nottingham, the council is encouraging taxi drivers to switch to ultra low emission models and in Dundee the council has required all new PHVs to be electric vehicles since 2016.
There could also be potential benefits to the public sector where MaaS operations result in reduced administration costs, when compared to running more conventional ticketing schemes. Although the benefits of MaaS could be considerable depending on how it is implemented, the opposite could also be true.
For example, increasing taxi and car hire use could contribute to congestion and poor air quality, levels of physical activity could be lower and monopoly pricing and targeting of services might mean that access to MaaS is only available to those with higher disposable incomes.