Mobility as a Service (Maas)

Maas logo

It’s the big news item on the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) circuit these days.  We are told its coming, it’s definitely going to happen and it’s going to change the way we travel. That’s all ok but just what is MaaS? And is it really feasible to change the way we travel? For me, one of the most innovative things about MaaS is that it could mean saying goodbye to owning your own car!

The basic idea of MaaS is that you will no longer own a car but will satisfy your transport requirements with a mobility package comprising unlimited access to public transport services, limited access to taxi services and a rental car for a specified number of kilometres. This is only one model of a MaaS package and there will be numerous versions made available to business and domestic markets. Service providers will also cater for the transportation of goods so you will be able to have items delivered to you on your MaaS package saving you the need to travel to pick them up.

MaaS is the concept of a distributed transport provision model where all modes of transport required for a journey are provided and coordinated under one central control system. MaaS services/ apps will take care of ticket purchase and payment, journey scheduling and vehicle pooling on the fly. It is intended that MaaS will offer unlimited access to transport, for a set price ensuring a personalised plan tailored to precisely suit a customer’s needs. With MaaS, the complexity and choice permutations of the above will be analysed, optimised and dispensed from one interface.

The idea of using transport from a public service provider is not as far-fetched as you might imagine. Consider current transport bundles for a moment and travel provision in metropolitan areas such as London, Paris, Rome and payment mechanisms such as London’s Leap Card. People already pay for their travel on a weekly, monthly and by zone package. It is only a case of bringing other transport providers such as taxi, car and bike rental into the loop so the one package covers all your transport needs.

So where did the idea of Maas come from? The idea was first conceived in 2014 by Sampo Hietanen, former CEO of ITS Finland. Mr Hietanen has been credited with the title ‘the father’ of MaaS having resigned from ITS Finland in December 2015 to concentrate on championing the concept of MaaS on a global scale. Sampo Hietanen founded MaaS Finland with €2.2 million in funding on the 1st February 2016 and has since then been gaining the attention of the transport sector worldwide. As a result of this interest and the general momentum and acceptance of the MaaS concept, MaaS Finland were rebranded as MaaS Global on the 3rd June 2016.

Some of the biggest shareholders in MaaS Global are Transdev (Europe’s largest private passenger transport company who are also the company behind Dublin’s Luas Line), Karsan Otomotiv Sanayii Ve Ticaret AS (a leading Turkish commercial vehicles manufacturer), Sampo Hietanen, InMob Holdings of Cyprus, Neocard, GoSwift, IQ Payments, MaaS Australia, Korsisaari, Goodsign and Delta Capital Force.

In terms of consumer consumption levels, transport is at level two with only housing accounting for a bigger spend globally. The transport service market worldwide is estimated to be in the cost range of approximately 10,000 billion euro per year. In short, transport is already a lucrative domain and could easily be the biggest growth market by 2020.  More use of public transport means less congestion which means cleaner, greener cities and towns and reduced carbon footprint overall. Less cars parked on our streets will mean more space available for other things such as public parks and recreational areas.

Most personal cars are only ever in use approximately 4% of the time. Consider the cost of owning your own transport then when in use 4% of the time. On an annual basis, average depreciation of €1500, tax €400, insurance €600, repairs/maintenance €500 and fuel €2000. This is then a cost of approximately €100/week. As long as the MaaS mobility packages cost less than this approximation and are fluid in their provision, MaaS will be go a long way in providing a new efficient transport model of the future.