Three main enablers of Mobility as a Service

If we follow Mobility as a Service fundamentals, it becomes self-evident that MaaS cannot be reduced to just one provider or just one app:

  • City residents have to rely on a MaaS application to plan and execute their trips,
  • Public authorities require a MaaS policy management software to orchestrate the mobility network, and
  • Mobility providers need a comprehensive tool to analyze MaaS consumption patterns to optimize their fleets.

MaaS application

Once you integrate the complete mobility supply into a single application, you are confronted with a significant usability challenge — how to present the supply in a comprehensive and comprehensible way? A true MaaS solution must remove friction in how people travel around the city and allow them to easily book & pay for the services in one environment with a single master account. This is where a significant distinction between user-centric and citizen-centric design immediately arises:

  • User-centricity requires to design a solution adhering to familiar patterns, adjust (as automatically as possible) to user’s consumption patterns, and, intentionally, incentivize sometimes even absolutely irrational choices;
  • Citizen-centric design, however, relies on what is best in digital product development — creating an attractive, easy to understand and use interface — rather than adapting the solution to incentivize irrational behavior. It should promote active mobility, walking, public transport and micro-mobility over personal cars or car sharing.

In short, any MaaS application has to be a daily travel assistant that takes the very best from user-centricity and bases itself on what addresses actual city challenges. At the end of the day, any MaaS application has to (a) become a reliable alternative to a personal car, and (b) promote more sustainable mobility.

MaaS policy management

It is important to remember that cities are already orchestrating their mobility networks by:

  • legislating traffic ordinances,
  • issuing licenses for mobility providers,
  • managing public space usage,
  • and organizing mass transit.

As recent research by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure suggests, to be actually sustainable, mobility providers need to link up their supply to supplement public transport rather than to compete with it. Thus, cities must take the reins they already have and start regulating, monitoring, and enforcing expected movement patterns in real-time with a dedicated policy management application that:

  • unpacks how the network is utilized,
  • suggests where certain inefficiencies are to be addressed,
  • allows promoting specific modes and routes as more sustainable,
  • issues direct mobility-related policies to provider systems,
  • and directly incentivizes consumer behavior.

MaaS policy management, then, acts in tandem with any MaaS application: the latter taking the role of a receptacle for understanding how to move in a complex mobility network, while the former functioning as a delivery device to inform and nudge for the desired behavior.

Simply put, if we are focusing on car owners from underserved areas, they would be able to make a reasonable decision to leave their car in a park & ride lot and switch to public transport if a) they will know that they can do it, b) can do it seamlessly, and c) understand how much more convenient and cheaper it would be.

MaaS analytics

This might sound like a trivial and sound business practice, but each mobility provider has to be able to understand how to optimize their supply. Today, however, every provider is pursuing optimization by taking into account primarily only their fleets. Naturally, this leads to mass inefficiencies — overloaded and competing mobility supply in urban centers, while city outskirts lay mobility-bare.

In order to address inefficiencies in supply distribution, a systematically functioning MaaS requires an anonymized mobility data exchange for all mobility providers — only then can we expect providers to stop operating in twilight conditions, and cities start making evidence-driven policy-making decisions. It’s an idea that apparently is etched into the new European data strategy. This suggests that all mobility providers will have to accept standardized and secure integrations to plug into city-led MaaS solutions.

Given the sensitive nature of movement data collected from the whole mobility network, public transport authorities would have to retain strict control of who should access that data. This, in turn, means that every single mobility provider would need to pass quality thresholds and gain licenses to operate in cities. However, it should also suggest that taking a completely open, agnostic MaaS approach wouldn’t allow public transport authorities to have all the tools required to solve the challenges that their city has.

Read more about Mobility as a Service fundamentals

  1. One key mobility problem – car-centricity
  2. Five mobility challenges for Mobility as a Service
  3. Fundamentals of Mobility as a Service
  4. Future of Mobility as a Service: a roadmap

About Trafi

Founded in Vilnius, Lithuania, Trafi has been revolutionizing urban mobility since 2013. Our MaaS platform is designed to run even the most complex transport systems and has been trusted by Berlin (BVG), Brussels (STIB), Portsmouth & Southampton (Solent Transport), Munich (MVG), and Zurich (SBB). 

Trafi’s mission is to empower cities with state-of-the-art MaaS solution that helps to tackle their mobility challenges and to achieve ambitious sustainability objectives. Our white-label product offers all the features and components needed to launch your own-branded MaaS service. With more than 50 existing deep integrations to mobility service providers and payment facilitators, we help to reduce risk, cost, and time-to-launch for new services.

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