Accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, shifting global attitudes, and government-backed incentives, city MaaS solutions are on the rise. In Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo ran (and won) her reelection campaign on the premise of transforming her city into a sustainable mobility paradise, one in which pedestrians and cyclists are afforded the same opportunities for quick, efficient movement around the city as their private-car-driving, CO2-emitting counterparts.
If you’re a city official or transport planner yourself, there’s a good chance you’re still unconvinced of the benefits a MaaS solution would bring to your own city, particularly in relation to how much effort needs to go into building it. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone.
For many cities, the idea of launching a MaaS concept can feel like a daunting, complicated task. Officials frequently tell us that a lack of understanding is the biggest hurdle keeping them from launching MaaS systems. This stems from the fact that there are no common practices for building MaaS solutions yet. New networks can’t be constructed using a one-size-fits-all approach; they have to be tailored to unique local needs.
At Trafi, we’re working hard to establish new practices and bridge the MaaS knowledge gap so that cities can unlock their full potential. That’s why we tapped into our network of city authorities, private mobility operators and thought leaders from across MaaS to compile what we think are three things every city should know before embarking on a multimodal mobility journey of their own.
1. Know your MaaS market
Public transportation is the backbone of any successful MaaS system. As such, having a solid understanding of what challenges your own PT networks are facing is an important starting point when tackling the question of how to integrate them into a multimodal MaaS concept. Assessing the situation from the angle of what’s working and what isn’t is key: when are your highest ridership levels during the day, week or month? Most cities are expanding – how should your PT network grow with your city’s population, or even more importantly, is your PT network even in a position to start scaling in the near future?
Once you’ve gained a solid overview on the current status of the supply-to-demand ratio of your existing PT network, you can far more easily assess which additional options would be most likely to be used by commuters and travelers. Because that’s the point, after all: the MaaS networks we build at Trafi are no longer the theoretical nice-to-haves from days of yore, but rather practical systems to be quickly and efficiently implemented – and satisfy a growing desire for flexible, on-demand, low-cost alternatives to private cars.
2. Know your partners
MaaS should be a team effort with cities at the helm. Government authorities know what’s best for urbanites living within city bounds. Nonetheless, by its very definition, a multimodal MaaS network gets its strength from the diversity of players it’s made up of. That’s why at Trafi, we often try to drive the point home (pun intended) that collaboration between all players across the mobility spectrum is key.
Of course, orchestrating a successfully collaborative system really boils down to selecting the right partners for your city’s needs as well. While deploying thousands of vehicles from one of the biggest names in car sharing might seem like an exciting initiative to you, it might not be what your citizens who are keen on expanding local bike rental options want or need.
To determine which partners serve the needs of your people best, you’ll be better off asking for help from someone who understands MaaS networks on both sides of the public-private equation. Another key factor to consider is who to work with when it comes time to beef up your digital infrastructure: unless your city has a solid network of in-house technologists ready to digitally map your city and discuss the finer points of mobility data sharing with micromobility providers, we’d highly recommend working with a third-party software provider who puts your needs first and can “speak tech” with mobility companies.
3. Know your users’ preferences
The beauty of cities lies in the complexity and diversity of the people living in them. As such, your MaaS network should reflect the unique composition of the multifaceted ecosystem it serves. To encourage the use of MaaS solutions, we have to provide options that people actually want to use. Whether it’s flexibility, on-demand convenience, or low-cost alternatives that really get people excited about MaaS, your network should offer users just what they’re looking for.
We have a pro-people ethos at Trafi. Each component of our MaaS Suite is designed with our partners’ end users in mind. To truly reduce reliance on privately owned cars, the alternative has to do more than just sound good on paper or resonate with urban planners. MaaS networks have to be appealing. In other words, users, not companies or cities, are setting the tone for the MaaS industry; that’s why our user-first approach is based on the simple notion of giving people exactly what they want.
Launching a MaaS network is a multistep process, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. If you’re equipped with the right knowledge and have the support of the right partners, any city can create an effective MaaS system that works for them and reap its long-term benefits.
If you’d like to know more about exactly what those benefits would mean for your city, or you’d just like some help finding the ideal partners and resources for your city’s specific needs, Trafi is here to help. Get in touch with us at any time – we’d be happy to walk you through the process.
For more information about the Trafi MaaS Suite, check out our website.