Subscriber Login

Features

Mobility-as-a-Service: Recent projects, initiatives, and policies [free access]

August 1, 2019

Mobility as a Service, or MaaS, is a user-centric intelligent mobility management and distribution system in which the integrator provides a platform for the end user with access to multiple transport services in a city. The first citywide MaaS scheme, Whim, was launched only three years ago in Helsinki. The concept has gained popularity and acceptance rapidly. Within only two years, more than four cities in Europe offer the city-wide MaaS platform and other cities are planning to offer it as well. The worldwide market for MaaS is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35–40 per cent over the next five years. It is estimated to cross USD150,000 million by 2024. The increasing popularity of the concept amongst users, investors, and operators alike has  prompted city transport authorities and policymakers to invest in developing MaaS models for different cities.

 

Basics of MaaS

 

From a user perspective, MaaS provides an alternative to private car ownership and to enables a seamless door-to-door journey experience by integrating access to different modes of travel like public transport, taxi, car rental, regional transportation, and city bike rental on a single platform. It provides route information, modal options, and payment and ticketing services for all integrated modes on and through the same platform.

 

Figure 1 explains the concept of MaaS.

 

Figure 1: The MaaS concept

 

 

Source: The MaaS Dictionary, MaaSLab, University College London (UCL)

 

The MaaS operator integrates the offerings of the mobility service providers, designs the MaaS products, and sells them to end users. It is the intermediate organisation between mobility service providers (MSPs) and users. MSPs are organisations, both public and private, that provide mobility services to the MaaS operator. The operator can propose the ideal travel option to the end user based on the demand and supply situation of the existing modes.

 

The business system of the model consists of several actors, including transport operators, data providers, technology platform providers, ICT infrastructure providers, insurance companies, and regulatory organisations.

 

Figure 2 represents the business system of MaaS.

 

Figure 2: The MaaS Business Ecosystem

 

Source: Kamargianni and Matyas, 2017

 

The idea has the potential to drive a paradigm shift, making passengers move away from the car. However, for MaaS to exist, the mobility solution must bring together different transport operators in the city on the same platform, overcome barriers of data sharing, establish a structure for fare and revenue distribution, reach an agreement on appropriate pricing between different operators, as well as ensure the financial viability of the business model. Hence, the industry needs not only the appropriate technology to enable MaaS, but also the support of the authorities to develop a profitable model and a conducive environment to enable the successful implementation of such a scheme.

 

Whim App—Expanding to new cities

 

Helsinki’s Whim app is the first holistic MaaS scheme. The mobility app was developed and launched by MaaS Global in collaboration with Taksi Helsinki in October 2016. It aims at providing an alternative to car ownership through flexible car-sharing schemes along with monthly public transport travel subscription. Whim is well established in Helsinki; at present it has 60,000 active monthly users.

 

Recent developments

 

In the past year, the service underwent expansion and modification and also integrated new modes on the Whim platform. MaaS Global expanded its operations to Birmingham and Antwerp in 2018. All three cities have different subscription packages. In Helsinki, it offers a wide range of packages, ranging from EUR62 to EUR499 per month, with different combinations of public transport, car rental, city bike rental, and car-sharing. The available packages are Whim Urban, Whim Weekend, Whim Unlimited, and Whim To Go. The subscription options are limited in the other two cities. In Birmingham, MaaS Global only offers the pay-as-you-go service and in Antwerp, it offers the Whim Everyday subscription and the pay-as-you-go service.

 

Table 1 summarises the available travel packages in each city.

 

Table 1: Summary of subscription packages offered by Whim

Whim Helsinki 

Whim Urban

Whim Weekend

Whim Unlimited

Whim To Go

Price

EUR62 for 30 days

EUR49 for 30 days

EUR499 for 30 days

Pay as you go

Public transport

HSL – 30-day ticket

HSL – 30-day ticket

HSL – 30-day ticket

HSL – 30-day ticket

City bike

Unlimited (30 minutes)

Unlimited (30 minutes)

Unlimited (30 minutes)

Not included

Taxi (up to 5 km)

EUR10

-15%

Unlimited

Pay as you go

Rental car

EUR49/day

Weekends from Friday to Monday included in subscription

Unlimited

Pay as you go

West Midlands

 

 

 

Pay as you go

Antwerp

Whim Everyday

-

-

Whim to Go

Public transport

Unlimited De Lijn

-

-

Pay per ride

Velo Antwerp (city bike)

Unlimited (30 minutes)

-

-

Pay per ride

Cab

EUR10 (5 km)

-

-

Pay per ride

Rental car

EUR49/day

 

 

Pay per ride

Notes: HSL – Helsinki Regional Transport

Source: Whim app website (https://whimapp.com/) 

 

In April 2018, Whim integrated the city bike rental option in the travel packages. After the introduction of the city bike, registered users increased from 34,000 in 2018 to 48,000 in 2019. It is hard to tell if Whim is solely responsible for the rise in the number of registered users.

 

In October 2018, Whim introduced ALD Automotive’s shared-car service where a car pick-up service is available round the clock. In Helsinki, the ALD fleet is situated in Europark’s City Forum. The fuel cost is included in the rental charge and the user can pay for refuelling with the payment card provided in the car. The price is EUR22 for the first hour and EUR5 per 30 minutes afterwards. The maximum price is EUR89 per day. Currently, it is only available with the Whim Unlimited subscription.

 

In June 2019, MaaS Global and Tencent, the Chinese internet service provider, launched a mini programme called MyHelsinki for Chinese visitors in Helsinki. Through this programme, visitors can use the WeChat platform to review recommendations for restaurants, shopping centres, and events, and also pay for transportation. The programme is the first of its kind to integrate personal communication, transport service, and local information in a single app.

 

Whim Helsinki is the only fully integrated MaaS scheme that has been operational for more than two years. Within just two years, Helsinki has made substantial modal shift. The share of public transport increased by 26 per cent and that of car ridership decreased by 20 per cent. Figure 3 gives an overview of the changes in mode share after the introduction of Whim in Helsinki.

 

Figure 3: Change in mode share after introduction of Whim in Helsinki

 

Source: Mobility as a Service–The End of Car Ownership?, Maas Global

 

UbiGo–MaaS platform for Stockholm

 

UbiGo Innovations AB and Fluidtime AG (part of Kapsch) launched a two-year pilot study in Gothenburg in 2014. After the assessment of the initial study, UbiGo launched the second pilot in Stockholm in March 2018. In the initial stage, the Stockholm pilot asked 200 households to sign up for a monthly subscription. After incorporating the learnings from both the pilot studies, the app was launched in April 2019 in Stockholm. The MaaS model of UbiGo is based on a subscription model for meeting the travel needs of a household, unlike the individual travel packages offered by Whim.

 

The monthly subscription package pricing is like that for a prepaid telephone connection, wherein the customer can choose the number of hours in a car and the number of trips on public transport for a month, collectively shared between all members of the household. The unused trips are transferred to the next billing cycle. UbiGo is also participating in the EU Horizon 2020 project to help the pilot cities scale up the MaaS services in five other European locations. A sample subscription is outlined in Table 2.

 

Table 2: A sample subscription package under UbiGo

 

Subscription / day per month

Price (including VAT/month)

Public transport

10 days per month

EUR42

Pool car and rental car

30 hours per month

EUR204

Taxi

-

No fixed cost. The total amount for the month will be reflected in the monthly invoice.

City bike

 

Under process of integration

Source: UbiGo website (https://ubigo.me/en/)

 

Within a year, UbiGo has gained popularity in Stockholm. Forty-four per cent of the population reported that their private car usage has decreased, 51 per cent reported an increase in car-sharing trips, 15 per cent reported an increase in the use of car rental services, and 7 per cent reported greater use of bike-sharing.

 

Moovel–Developing a new MaaS platform, Reach Now

 

Transport service provider Moovel, a joint venture of BMW and Daimler AG, was re-launched as Reach Now in February 2019. The mobility apps under Reach Now offer a range of modal options for travel, allowing users to book and pay directly for public transport and other mobility options, such as car-sharing, ride-hailing, and bike rentals. As part of a pilot study, the group launched an app-based ‘mobility budget’ for more than 30,000 Daimler Financial Services employees in Germany. The mobility budget includes a credit that employees can use to avail transport services and travel to work every day without a car. Moovel in collaboration with Rhein Bahn also launched the “Mobil in Düsseldorf” ticketing and payment platform for Dusseldorf in November 2018. The app recently added Stadmobil, a shared-car service provider, and Mytaxi, a taxi service, on its platform.

 

In 2018, Moovel together with Tokyu Corporation, East Japan Railway Company, and East Japan Marketing and Communication Inc. also launched a MaaS pilot in Japan. The app, Izuko, is the first MaaS service in Asia. It offers access to public transport, city bikes, rental cars, and on-demand ride sharing. As a special feature, the app also displays information about the location of tourist attractions, ticket prices, and discounts at certain locations.

 

Research and policy initiatives for MaaS by the European Commission

 

Acknowledging the business and service potential of MaaS, the European Commission under the EU Horizon 2020 programme launched three funded projects—MyCorridor, iMOVE, and MaaS EU—in June 2017 to enable the faster development and expansion of MaaS in the region.

 

MyCorridor project

 

MyCorridor is a three-year project that expands the use, scope, and profile of MaaS from a mobility platform for a city to an integrated mobility platform for cross-border corridors in Europe. It aims to develop pan-European standards such as common interface of MaaS apps, business models, and principles that can facilitate the exchange of data and information between all the cities on the corridor network. To achieve this vision, the app has been launched in six pilot corridors with city-wide and cross-border mobility services.

 

 The corridors in the project are:

 

The project, launched in November 2018, has two review stages. The first stage, preparation of a framework for evaluation and definition of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), has been completed. The second phase of the review is ongoing at present.

 

iMOVE Project

 

The project was funded by the European Commission as part of its Horizon 2020 mission to accelerate the development and implementation of MaaS and to unlock scalability in European cities.

 

The project evaluated four cities as working labs to test the MaaS models. The cities are Berlin, Manchester, Gothenburg, and Torino.

 

The main objective of the iMOVE project is to develop resilient and context-specific business models, to develop the interoperability of MaaS proprietary platforms with other collaborating third parties like the journey planner, information technology services (ITS), travel booking tools, etc., and to allow users to shift between MaaS schemes by supporting cooperation between operators. The project aims at increasing the scalability of the MaaS projects in Europe by proposing solutions to improve business and operation models for MaaS. It will collect real-time information about user preferences and needs to develop tools that will enable the exchange of information between different schemes, thereby facilitating the ease with which end users can shift or switch between schemes.

 

MaaS4EU 

 

The aim of the project is to provide quantifiable evidence, a policy framework, business operation models, and tools to enable the implementation of the MaaS concept. It will take into account the economics of the scheme, end-user preferences and habits, innovation in technology to enable the adoption of the MaaS platform, and supportive policies. The project will quantify the cost and benefit of the MaaS scheme through three pilot studies in Greater Manchester (UK), Luxembourg (Germany), and Budapest (Hungary).

 

In Manchester, Transport for Greater Manchester in collaboration with Atkins/SNC-Lavalin launched a MaaS trial to understand user behaviour and user perception of MaaS. Thirty-nine participants were chosen to take part in the trial. The results reflected a promising market for MaaS in Manchester, as 26 per cent of participants stated that they are willing to use public transport and after a trial of six months, 82 per cent of participants stated that they wanted MaaS to be reintroduced.

 

The three EU-funded mobility projects, MyCorridor, MaaS4EU, and iMOVE, have also agreed to explore common standards for digital mobility services. They are aiming to adopt the same API (application programming interface) that uses the same communication protocol and data format for security standards. The use of a common language will enable users to experience seamless cross-border travel and will aid in the expansion of MaaS.

 

Conclusion

 

This review of the pilot studies and projects in Gothenburg, Stockholm, and Manchester demonstrates that the MaaS scheme has been widely accepted by end users and is providing a better journey experience. In Helsinki, the number of active subscriptions suggests that users are increasingly exploring the shift from private car ownership to the shared use of resources. In terms of the business model, as the app gains popularity, more and more service providers are willing to integrate their offerings with the app. Although the profitability and resilience of the existing business models are still unclear, MaaS has the potential to drive the change in mobility towards a more sustainable path. However, in order to do so, the market along with the relevant city authorities need to develop profitable and equitable service models. Technological innovation must also focus on advancing technologies like blockchain that can foster  trust and transparency between service providers in sharing their data and information. Most importantly, the service requires conducive policies at the national and regional levels to enable a sustainable environment for the success of MaaS schemes.