Future of Mobility as a Service: a roadmap

Mobility as a Service adopted by the industry

It should be obvious that a true Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) solution is much more than just a mobility application for consumers. MaaS rises as a response to the current state of urban mobility, it is and has to be organized around public transport, and requires to assign the role of network orchestration to a public transport authority (PTA). In other words, PTA moves away from Public Transport and becomes the urban Mobility Authority.

PTA will have three responsibilities:

  • Firstly, it should oversee the design of safe and easy-to-use mobility experience. Individual Mobility Service Providers (MSPs) are not incentivized to start there themselves, nor the PTA should do it for them. PTA should set the standard and require MSPs to follow it.
  • Secondly, it should ensure that MSPs are guaranteeing equitable and affordable access to their services. We need to start with mass mobility, not the luxury one. More so, PTA should nudge MSPs to guarantee an even spread of access to mobility in underserved areas as much as in overserved ones.
  • Finally, more holistic mobility supervision would enable the PTA itself to operate much more effectively and rely on less traditional and experimental approaches in addressing connectivity challenges.

We believe that MaaS will start showing its real impact — private car rides will be replaced with sustainable and active mobility options — if its fundamental requirements and the reinvented role of the PTA will be adopted by the whole industry:

  • The consolidation of dispersed mobility offerings will make the whole mobility network significantly more resilient, i.e. urban residents could rely on mobility options in every situation.
  • Collaboration on standardization does not impede competition on implementation, i.e. each provider could still promote mobility offers in MaaS applications or their consumer applications themselves.

All of this suggests that the next item on the MaaS roadmap is the discovery of a new legal framework that would allow standardizing all of these business requirements and technical implementation. Especially, so that every MSP would not have to over-customize their services to each city. This, in turn, would allow us to move towards a situation where any mobility option could be opened with the same master key.

True Mobility as a Service adopted by residents

Next, we get back to the crux of it all — urban residents who just want to move in their cities as seamlessly and effortlessly as possible. Today, this creates mass inefficiencies, as everyone is looking for a convenient option that suits them the best. This is only amplified with products that are user-centric and don’t take into account the needs of the whole network.

For MaaS to work, we need to focus on how to help city residents adopt MaaS applications:

Currently, most of PTA or public transport operator (PTO) owned applications are designed only for a single mode, primarily fixed transport. We as city residents benefit from mostly exclusive offerings. So, cities have their mobility products, but their product design is not ready to support the multiplicity of mobility modes and providers that MaaS promises to deliver:

  • Trip planning is dedicated to unimodal, public transport rides without an adequate engine to compare free-floating mobility. How will I be able to compare fixed and free-floating mobility?
  • Public transport schedule information, real-time trip updates, and ticketing are closely knit together. However, how should they be complemented with e-bikes or kick-scooters?
  • Finally, if my typical morning commute is disrupted, how will the product know what option to recommend me, and, more importantly, when?

There already are off-the-shelf ready products that can support public authorities in launching these MaaS solutions in cities as fast as possible. More than that, these solutions are being constantly tested and continuously improved in different geographies with different use cases. Choosing a battle-tested product guarantees quicker user adoption and less maintenance than a custom solution.

The real challenge here, and the next item on the roadmap, is educating residents to switch over to MaaS rather than to stick to unimodal private mobility. What should follow, then, are measures that significantly affect car-based travel negatively, and an extensive campaign spreading the message that moving with sustainable, affordable, and safe means is more sensible and cool than sticking to current private options.

MaaS impact showcased

Finally, if we have the buy-in from the mobility industry, and if city residents are already adopting MaaS, then we can have a complete picture of how the urban population moves. Not just for the sake of enjoying data visualizations, rather than to achieve something counterintuitive: how to make sure that people would be able to rely on mobility less and less, and can reach their destinations in a hyper-proximate walking distance.

With a non-pervasive and holistic understanding of where people travel and why, city authorities would finally have all the tools to design cities in such a way that public services would be accessed either from home or nearby, and businesses would be incentivized to spread out evenly in all urban areas, not just in high density and high access urban centers. Thus, we as urban residents would gain access to where we need to go without even ever needing a car.

It’s a wonderful picture. But it can start only by us all agreeing on the actual problems and choosing the right solutions.

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. Three main enablers of Mobility as a Service

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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