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The Future Vision of MaaS: From Walled Gardens to Digital Infrastructure Layers

Scott Shepard

This article was originally published by Motion Magazine

 

Mobility as a Service is on everyone’s minds right now. While MaaS promises to free us from our former and unsustainable travel habits, there´s much more to this story. That is, it’s been a pretty indirect path to where we are today in the world of digital solutions that now promise to promote and encourage multimodality. This journey has gone essentially from a basic app, to an entire digital infrastructure layer that enables public authorities to orchestrate a shared mobility ecosystem. Let’s have a look at the different MaaS models we’ll come across in our journey to smarter mobility. 

MaaS 1.0

MaaS 1.0 as it’s called can be considered the first iteration of MaaS. This is an app based solution that aggregates a number of private mobility suppliers in a given territory, city, or region. While this was the essential building block in which to construct a shared mobility ecosystem, it only gets us to the first step, which is discovery of providers.  That’s because with MaaS 1.0, you´re forced to complete your multimodal journey or individual ride by jumping (or deep linking) into a 3rd party provider app. As you can imagine, this creates friction for users who are looking for reasonable alternatives to the automobile.

Private MaaS

Private MaaS is by definition a platform that is a walled garden, meaning that only services that are within the closed ecosystem of the MaaS provider and are pre-approved are allowed to operate and become available to consumers in the app. For example, in this case only bikes or scooters that were part of the same corporate organizational structure (as the MaaS provider) would be allowed in the platform, blocking any competitor MSPs from being able to integrate and display on the app for consumer comparison. As can be derived from this perspective, this prevents consumers from making informed decisions related to their daily (and personal) mobility choices.

Hybrid MaaS 

Hybrid MaaS takes a middle path in the ecosystem, and from the outside seem to promise anything and everything at the same time. Notable examples are Business to Consumer (B2C) MaaS platforms developed commercially for consumers, yet at the same time repackaged as frameworks for PTAs and cities. The key difference between a Hybrid MaaS and a Public MaaS is that Hybrid MaaS platforms retain a direct relationship with the consumer, which is sort of a blend between a B2C and B2G business model. These are developed to be deeply integrated with available public transport and MSPs and offered directly to consumers in subscription plans. However, PTAs and cities lose the direct consumer relationship (as in Private MaaS) because model split (e.g. who rides a taxi versus a scooter vs. a train) are bundled together in a fashion that can conflict with the primary policy goals of public authorities, who are tasked with delivering urban public transport services in the first place.

Public MaaS

Public MaaS, as the name implies, is a carefully orchestrated Business to Government (B2G) platform that places cities and PTAs in the central orchestrating role of delivering shared mobility services to all urban inhabitants. This form of MaaS has been gaining quite a bit of attention lately, as there have been multiple deployments across Europe, most notably in Berlin (with the Jelbi app developed by Trafi). While Public MaaS places cities and PTAs in the center of the MaaS ecosystem, what is lacking is a ubiquitous, roaming functionality that enables consumers to benefit from a user experience that is frictionless and will thus increase app “stickiness” (users staying within one app, and not jumping to external apps).

MaaS as a Digital Infrastructure Layer

MaaS as a Digital Infrastructure Layer is a vision that offers ubiquitous, decentralized, multi-city urban mobility. What differentiates this from Public MaaS is not a particular implementation of MaaS sponsored by an organization. Instead, the marketplace provides a base digital infrastructure for any player to provide mobility services, or to offer those services directly to consumers via an app. The Digital Infrastructure Layer thus accommodates and enables all the previous approaches (private, hybrid, public) with subscription or pay-as-you-go models.

Where Maas will Take Us  

As we can see in this journey, MaaS has evolved and matured.  From a simple, city based, white label app that you can download on your smartphone to a public funded layer of digital infrastructure.  This digital layer is considered a common good, and enables regional and public authority to align with investments in physical infrastructure, as well as set policy goals for sustainable urban mobility at the local, regional, and national levels.  Therefore, MaaS has become a key component for planners, policymakers, and authorities to achieve more sustainable outcomes by subsidizing and investing in digital solutions that promote multimodality and behavioral change.

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