How to launch MaaS – key learnings from Berlin with BVG & Trafi

How to launch MaaS: learnings from Berlin

Mobility is evolving more rapidly than ever before. Berlin alone can now boast an impressive 30 shared mobility options. Just to name a few: kicks-scooters (Tier, Voi, Jump by Uber, Lime), mopeds (Emmy), shared bikes (Jump by Uber, Deezer, Mobike), car-sharing (Miles, WeShare) and many more.

However, public transport is still the only mobility option that can move a tremendous amount of people in one go. Therefore, it has always been and will remain (for the foreseeable future) the backbone of urban mobility. The strong wave of digitization and the availability of new mobility options in combination with changing consumption habits will lead the mobility industry to step into an era of Mobility as a Service.

This December, Trafi recorded a joint webinar with BVG, the main public transit agency in Berlin, to talk about Jelbi, the Mobility as a Service (or MaaS) solution that we launched together in the German capital. Speakers Sebastian Wolf, Product Owner for Mobility Apps at BVG, and Christof Schminke, Managing Director Commercial at Trafi, covered all the burning questions around the hot topic of MaaS. They covered themes ranging from what MaaS actually is, to creating a collaborative relationship between a public institution and a mobility tech startup.

In case you missed the webinar, here are the main takeaways:

  • Achieving true MaaS. Cities need to take a leading role in the development of a Mobility as a Service solution. MaaS is all about long term vision, and it goes way beyond just launching an app. The essence of a MaaS strategy is to connect all private and public transportation modes together, in order to create a holistic mobility network. Another immense advantage of MaaS is that it provides the city with access to movement data, and helps us to understand how, where and with what citizens move. Municipalities enjoy the trust of their people and should encourage their residents to take advantage of all newly emerging mobility options — and to provide a platform where they can all be accessed at once.
  • Deep level Mobility Service Provider (MSP) integration. Without deep level integration, a ‘MaaS’ solution would be a mere aggregator rather than a full multimodal solution. From a consumer point of view, deep integration means being able to plan, pick, pay and consume all mobility options within one centralized app. From an MSP point of view, it means allowing users to access and consume their services through a third-party app. Some MSPs tend to initially shy away from deep integration, but then rapidly understand its value, e.g., reaching a vast consumer audience with no extra advertising costs.
  • Tech moves fast, but integration costs time. An essential step is realizing that cities should start talking with new mobility service providers as soon as possible. Integration is a complex and time-consuming process. MSPs have their own roadmaps, as well as limited tech team capabilities, which means that it may take some time to integrate from their side as well. When strategizing about Jelbi, our joint MaaS solution, the plan was to have at least one provider from each mobility mode within the app, and to keep on adding more. It was essential to assure that Jelbi would not become a car-sharing or a kick-scooter app, but one to cover the full range of mobility options in Berlin.
  • Success through partnership. Working with a third party tech startup meant working at a new speed for BVG. Using a mature technology stack rather than developing it from scratch, and combining both expertise and know-how from our two different companies, allowed us to launch Jelbi in just six months’ time. “The most significant learning was expectation management. Digital product development is a brand new concept for BVG, and it is important to understand that it is a work in progress. The product will never be done; you always have to keep on developing and innovating,” said Sebastian Wolf.
  • MaaS in five to ten years. In the near future, MaaS will shift and witness extreme developments. We will probably see consolidation between the players: an increase in new shared mobility modes and a decrease in the number of providers. Citizens will be much more flexible and used to choosing a combination of shared mobility and public transport for their trips. Cities will be more actionable and in charge of their own mobility network. This could entail penalizing private car usage in various ways, e.g. issuing extremely expensive parking lots. MaaS will continuously welcome new players into its system, giving the opportunity for all citizens to consume the full mobility network from a single platform seamlessly, securely and shared.

Stay tuned for the next one!

Jelbi Year One

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About Trafi

Founded in 2013, Trafi is a Lithuanian tech start-up. Trafi is working shoulder-to-shoulder with cities, countries, and companies worldwide to create the best in class Mobility-as-a-Service alternative for congested cities. Trafi offers cities the possibility to connect all mobility services into one single platform where users can check itineraries and also book their tickets and trips. 

Trafi’s mission is to empower cities’ urban transportation with technology and know-how and encourage citizens to use more sustainable modes of transportation by accessing all services into one single platform. Trafi is currently live in 4 continents around the world and 7 cities.