Ever heard of MaaS?
Nope? But you might have heard about Software as a Service, aka SaaS. This is the concept of using software via Internet – without the need to buy, own, install, configure nor update software. Just use it when you need it. SaaS can be simple services like providing the time at different locations. It could also be complex business applications, consisting of a set of orchestrated services for verifying the user, pulling, processing and storing data, interacting with each other.
MaaS applies this concept on mobility services. It stands for Mobility as a Service, also known as TaaS or Transport as a Service, but not to be confused with the same term used to describe enterprise management of mobile devices.
What is Mobility as a Service?
Let’s compare it to another “X as a Service”, you are familiar with: Lunch as a Service 😉
You can either invest in a fully equipped kitchen, buy ingredients and spend hours of cooking, lay the table, have lunch and then discard the leftovers and do the dishes – or simply go for lunch to your favourite restaurant. With “Lunch as a Service” you can chose from a wide variety of dishes meeting your flavor of the day, you’ll get served the food and proper drinks by friendly waiters in a comfy environment, pay just one bill and you’re done. In case you don’t love cooking and have hours time every day, going for lunch to a restaurant is probably the best choice. If Lunch as a Service would not already exist yet, I would have to invent it. It would for sure be the next Big Thing.
How does Mobility as a Service look like?
Like in the restaurant example, you don’t use your own devices but get served instead, taylored to your current needs and from one source with one invoice. Here’s some examples how it could look like:
Example #1 – Daily commute to work
Instead of driving to work with your own car with high monthly costs and wasting your time to focus on traffic and searching for parking lots, you use MaaS:
- Jointly with your son you get picked up in the morning by a shared on-demand door2door mini bus at your door.
- You drop off your kid at school jointly with two other kids from your neighbouhood who joined your ride.
- Your mini bus proceeds to the train station where a regional train takes you to the city center – bypassing the traffic jam on the streets and giving you some time to prepare for work.
- From the train station closest to your office you take a short walk to the office to get some fresh air. You arrive relaxed, refreshed and well-prepared at work.
- You need to do some shopping at the next super market. No need to carry home heavy bags. They will be delivered to your home or to a cooling drop box nearby.
- Sun is shining and you feel you’d like to ride home by bike to get some exercise and enjoy the weather. You find a bike sharing rental bike close by and open it with your MaaS app. The ride is yours!
More time for your family, work and sports. Lower costs and pollution.
Example #2 – Business trip
Instead of taking your own car to the airport, pay a fortune for parking and a rental car at your destination, you use MaaS:
- Again the shared on-demand mini bus picks you up at home and takes you to the airport – as convenient as a taxi but much cheaper.
- In your MaaS app you booked a V.I.P. Pass option for the airport and can quickly access the lounge prior to boarding.
- At the destination you get picked up by your preferred Blacklane driver with a high-class vehicle allowing you to work while he is driving you safely to the office, bypassing long taxi queues with unknown quality, payment options and language challenges.
Lower costs. Hassle-free services taking the stress out of your journey and allowing you to focus on your business. Travel expenses are all set in one invoice saving your even more time.
Who would have thought that the Internet would completely change business 25 years ago? And now the Internet revolution hits the road.
- Demand for rides and available vehicles can be matched on the fly – leading to much higher transport efficiency.
- Technology allows to share all kinds of vehicles: cars, bike, scooters or even flying drones. So there is no need to own a vehicle anymore. Or have you ever thought of buying a subway?
- All mobility services can be orchestrated using Internet services – providing exactly what the passenger needs in the moment.
- No more need for mass transit to estimate demand and plan fixed schedules months ahead. Demand can be determined on the fly.
What are the benefits?
MaaS will change the way how we commute and travel completely – with exciting opportunities ahead:
- Reduced inner city traffic, congestion and pollution, enabling a green and sustainable mobility
- Improved mobility in rural areas where small “micro transit” mini buses pick up passengers on demand in shared rides
- Improve mobility for children, elderly and and disabled people who cannot drive on their own
- Reduced costs due to higher utilization of (shared) vehicles and less need for traffic infrastructure such as parking lots
- More time. Less stress. Being driven you, no longer need to focus on traffic.
- Business opportunities through new business models for mobility services such as car sharing and bike sharing fleet management, MaaS orchestration services and quality management, routing and payment services, …
And what are the risks?
Of course every change also has its downsides. Some known risks are:
- Dependency on a functioning and safe internet making us vulnerable to cyber attacks and technical breakdowns
- With the raise of autonomous vehicles, car ownership will vanish – leading to major changes in the automotive and taxi industry
- Economies of scale might lead to a market consolidation and a natural monopoly if governments won’t regulate it
Our governments need to take action and shape the change to manage the risks and gain the benefits. And we all can shape the change by testing these new services and give feedback where needed and promote if it works well.