Subscriber Login


MaaS in Japan: Fifty-two projects under Smart Mobility Challenge FY2020 [free access]

October 1, 2020

Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), is leading a highly ambitious and promising project for the deployment of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) across the nation. In 2019, with support from the ministries, several businesses in Japan conducted 19 MaaS pilots of Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4 integration.


These pilots were conducted under a project called the Smart Mobility Challenge FY2019, which was aimed at address mobility issues and revitalising the region through the implementation of new mobility services.


Smart Mobility Challenge FY2020


In 2020, MLIT and METI launched the Smart Mobility Challenge FY2020. Under the new project, the ministries have a total of 52 demonstration areas, which are depicted in Figure 1.


Figure 1: 52 regions shortlisted under Smart Mobility Challenge FY2020


Source: METI


METI will implement the Regional New MaaS Creation Promotion Project for ‘advanced pilot areas’ to conduct demonstrative experiments and carry out business feasibility analyses. The ministry has shortlisted 16 areas as ‘advanced pilot areas’.


MLIT will implement the Japan MaaS Promotion and Support Project, which is aimed at building a model of MaaS for addressing regional issues. The ministry has shortlisted 38 businesses that are expected to contribute to the solution of regional issues.


MaaS projects planned by MLIT for 2020


In 2019, MLIT conducted 19 pilots across the country and provided JPY300 million for trials. Of the pilots launched, six were regional-type, five were rural-type, and eight were tourism-type projects.


In addition to the 38 projects selected by MLIT under Smart Mobility Challenge FY2020, six projects are selected for the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI)-based on-demand transportation and nine projects have been chosen for the introduction of cashless payment. These projects will provide support for the development of MaaS infrastructure. Figure 2 shows the shortlisted locations for the MaaS pilot projects in Japan.


Figure 2: Locations of MaaS pilot projects in Japan

Source: MLIT, Global Mass Transit Research


MaaS pilots planned under Smart Mobility Challenge FY2020


MLIT plans to conduct a pilot of MaaS across 38 regions, areas, cities from September 2020 onwards. Under these pilots, the authorities will focus on the integration of various modes of transportation and local businesses, as well as the deployment and trials of new technology like cashless payment and AI-based on-demand transport services.  The overview of these projects is provided in Table 1.  


Table 1: Details of MaaS pilots planned under Smart Mobility Challenge FY2020


Key goals to be achieved

Key players

Across Japan



Universal MaaS aims to provide mobility services that allow a comfortable travel experience to commuters with disabilities, the elderly, foreign visitors to Japan, and other people who are hesitant to travel. The MaaS app provides customers with information on public transportation fares, flight/operation status, barrier-free transit routes, transportation companies, local governments. It also provides real-time location information to customers and any other assistance that they might need.

• All Nippon Airways (ANA)
• Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyu Electric Railway)
• Yokosuka City
• Yokohama National University


• Provide real-time information promptly, especially in case of an emergency
• Deploy contactless system on public transport
• Deploy a system to  coordinate operations between multiple transport modes and other services
• Increase public transport ridership
• Introduce de new routes and provide on-demand services in local cities

• Aizu Riding Motor
• Aizu Railway
• East Japan Railway Company
• Designium
• Alps Alpine
• Mitsubishi Corporation
• Aizuwakamatsu City
• Fukushima University
• ITS Japan (Observer)
• University of Aizu (Observer)
• Aizu Area Public Transport Revitalization Council (Collaboration Organisation)
• Hitachi MaaS Council (Collaboration Organisation)

Asahi Town, Toyama Prefecture

• Promote use of public transport services

• Asahi Town, Toyama Prefecture
• Kuroto Motor
• Suzuki Motor 
• Suzuki Motor Sales Toyama
• Hakuhodo Corporation
• Val Laboratory Corporation
• Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
• Hokuriku Shinetsu Transport Bureau
• Toyama Transport Bureau

Chiba City

• Provide community-specific services that reduce the burden of patients (especially the elderly) visiting hospitals
• Provide on-demand transportation services

• Novartis Pharma 
• Chiba City
• MONET Technologies Inc.

Chino City

• Replace conventional bus routes with AI-based on-demand buses
• Prevent traffic accidents caused by the elderly through promotion of the return of driving licences
• Attract customers to urban areas

• Chino City
• Chino Bus Tourism
• Alpico Kotsu
• Mitsui no Mori 
• Suwa Tokyo University of Science
• District representatives, public road managers. and others

Den-en-toshi Line

• Link various services with transportation services / networks
• Provide alternative transportation services other than trains
• Provide information services based on movement and action needs in Covid-19 situation

• Tokyu Corporation

Fukuyama City

• Promote use of electric bicycle rental services
• Demonstrate flat-rate taxi-usage plan
• Provide digital coupons/ tickets for tourist places as well as for food and drink, etc. 

• Nippon Travel Agency
• Fukuyama City
• MONET Technologies Inc.
• Reconstruction Research Design
• Setouchi PEDAL Life
• Fukuyama City Bus Communication Utilization Promotion Council (Tomo Railway)
• Hiroshima Prefecture Taxi Association East Branch (Asahi Taxi)
• West Japan Railway Company
• Fukuyama Tourism Convention Association


• Provide on-demand operational services
• Introduce ISOU MaaS platform and electric vehicles to taxi operation businesses for paid transportation in business area operated by NPO Ganbara Maika
• Increase movement of residents within area

• NPO Corporation Ganbara Maika Sakuma
• Hamamatsu City Hall
• Clementec

Higashimurayama City

• Verify the possibility of providing free transportation services by the AI vehicle dispatch system  using the MaaS app
• Test on-demand bus services operated by the AI dispatch system for public transportation services and for the operation of some taxi vehicles
• Introduce and test a point system that can be used to pay fares for the on-demand bus services operated by the AI dispatch system

• Higashimurayama City
• KPMG Consulting
• Mirai Share
• Fino Valley
• Seibu Bus
• Galaxy Railway
• Tokyo Transportation
• Seibu Higher
• Kotsuko


• Provide AI-based on-demand transport services
• Expand and promote use of public transport services 
• Provide public transportation tickets based on the purchase price of commercial facilities

• Hiroshima City
• Hiroden China Newspaper Travel
• Hiroshima Electric Railway
• Kure National College of Technology
• NEC Corporation
• Hiroshima University
• Val Laboratory Corporation
• Hiroshima Prefecture Regional Policy Bureau Regional Power Creation Division
• NTT Docomo
• Hiroshima Bus Association
• Docomo Bike Share


• Promote use of public transport and reduce dependence on private cars
• Incorporate new mobility services that complement existing modes of transportation
• Provide last-mile connectivity
• Promote environmental-friendly transport services like on-demand shared services and car sharing

• Ibaraki Kotsu 
• Electric Railway Taxi
• Hitachinaka Kaihin Railway
• Michinori HD
• Hitachi City
• Hitachinaka City
• Tokai Village
• Takahagi City
• Ibaraki Prefecture
• Ibaraki University
• Hitachi
• Joyo Bank
• Navitime


• Launch contactless payment (introduction of QR code-based payment)
• Improve profits of transportation companies through creation of new businesses such as mixed cargo and passenger traffic

• Hokkaido Transport Bureau
• Obihiro Transport Bureau
• Hokkaido Development Bureau
• Obihiro Development and Construction Department
• Obihiro City
• Tokachi Municipal Association
• JR Hokkaido
• Tokachi Bus
• Hokkaido Takushoku Bus
• Tokachi District Higher Association
• Obihiro Airport Terminal Building
• Hokkaido Tourism Promotion Organization
• Tokachi Tourism Federation
• Obihiro Tourism Convention Association
• Obihiro Chamber of Commerce and Industry
• Tokachi Jurisdiction Chamber of Commerce and Industry Association

Ikeda City

• Establish a model to support free transportation services
• Promote deployment of AVs
• Install sensors on vehicles for safety purposes

• Ikeda City
• Fushiodai Community
• Momo
• F-Link
• Oriental Consultants
• Osaka University
• Kinki Transport Bureau Osaka Transport Branch
• Osaka Prefecture Smart City Strategy Department
• MONET Technologies Inc. 
• Health and Medical Cross Innovation Lab


• Provide multi-modal transport services
• Promote existing public transportation and provide new transportation services

• Showa Group
• Toyota Finance Corporation Kyushu Branch
• JTB Fukuoka Branch
• Hakuhodo Inc.
• Dentsu Inc.
• Denso Solution
• Panasonic System Solutions Japan
• N Co., Ltd.
• Delphys Inc.
• Toyota Motor Kyushu
• Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance
• Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance
• Sompo Japan Insurance
• Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance

Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture

• Maximise number of tourists by acquiring new customers
• Promote use of public transportation
• Improve operational efficiency through IoT

• Izu Creation Center, Tokyu Corporation
• East Japan Passenger Railway
• Rakuten
• Izukyu Holdings
• Tokai Motor
• Izuhakone Railway
• Izuhakone Bus
• Izu Cruise
• Izu Peninsula Creation Research Institute
• Shizuoka Taxi Association
• Shizuoka Prefecture
• Shizuoka Transport Bureau
• Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

Kaga City

  • Reduce use of private cars and promote public transport through deployment of MaaS app

    • Introduce cashless payment
    • Create database linkage to MaaS platform and construction of data analysis infrastructure

• Kaga City Regional Public Transport Revitalization
• Kaga City
• Kaga Daiichi Kotsu 
• Machizukuri Kaga
• Kaga Onsen Bus
• Kaga City Tourism Exchange Organization (Kaga Onsenkyo DMO)
• Ishikawa Transport Bureau
• Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
• Kaga MaaS Consortium
• MaaS Tech Japan 
• Val Laboratory Corporation
• Volk
• Hokuriku Shinetsu Transport Bureau


• Provide mobility for the elderly, especially those who have returned their driver’s licence
• Provide and diversify public transportation services
• Provide AI-based on-demand shared services

• Kasugai City
• Tokai National Higher Education Organization Nagoya University
• KDDI Corporation
• KDDI Research, Inc.
• Meitetsu Bus
• Kasugai City Taxi Association
• UR Urban Organization
• Central Consultants
• Kozoji New Town Center Development
• Navitime Japan
• Future Share

Kobe City

• Provide last-mile connectivity and expand public transport services
• Promote cashless payment and shared mobility platform

• Japan Research Institute Limited
• Kobe City
• Quadrac
• Kondo Electric Railway
• Shintetsu Taxi
• Daiwa Motor Transportation
• Sumitomo Mitsui Card
• Minato Kanko Bus 


• Introduce cashless transaction
• Provide facial-recognition technology for school children
• Provide on-demand shared transportation

• Komono Town
• Kintetsu Railway 
• Mie Kotsu 
• Odaka
• Gosho Ropeway
• Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
• Chubu Transport Bureau Mie Transport Branch
• Mie Prefecture Regional Cooperation Department Transportation Policy Division
• Graduate School of Environmental Studies
• Komono University
• NTT Docomo Tokai Branch

Kyoto (Ohara, Yase, Kuramaki, Kibune)

• Promote a digital free pass with coupons for trains and buses that will allow passengers to use services for 24 hours and 36 hours
• Promote excursions in  peripheral areas, especially sightseeing during morning and night
• Provide digital coupons/ tickets for temple, shrines, food and drink, etc. 

• Keihan Holdings
• Kyoto City
• Keihan City Tourism Association
• Eizan Electric Railway
• Kyoto Bus
• East Japan Passenger Railway
• Docomo Bike Share
• Docomo Insight Marketing
• Regional Business Operators (Kyoto Ohara Tourism Hoshokai, Keihan Electric Railway, etc.)
• Kyoto Transport Bureau
• Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
• Kinki Transport Bureau


• Reduce commuters’ excessive dependency on private cars
• Reduce the financial burden of maintaining public transport and of developing a sustainable transport system
• Improve accessibility from inconvenient public transportation areas in the suburbs to the city centre

• Maebashi City New Mobility Service Promotion Council (tentative name)
• Maebashi City Regional Public Transportation Revitalization Council
• Maebashi City
• ICT Town Development Common Platform Promotion Organization
• Gunma University
• NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting

• NTT Docomo
• Mirai Share Co. Ltd.
• JR East

Maizuru City

• Promote use of public transport services

• Maizuru City
• Nihon Kotsu
• Omron Social Solutions
• General Incorporated Association System Science Research Institute
• General Incorporated Foundation Metrology Planning Research Institute
• Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
• Kyoto Transport Bureau

Minamiashigara, Kanagawa Prefecture and the surrounding area

• Improve profitability of regional transportation and rebuild  revenue model
• Increase number of visitors to tourist spots in and around Minamiashigara
• Improve comprehensibility  of traffic information and create a method of linear movement to the destination

• Minamiashigara City
• Izuhakone Railway 

Miura Peninsula

• Permit searches and  reservations for various modes  of transportation (railway, bus, taxi, AI-enabled on-demand transportation, car sharing, bicycle sharing, etc.)
• Enable cashless payment for transport and for tourist facilities like restaurants
• Distribute information on congestion in restaurants and tourist facilities (to avoid spread of Covid-19)
• Distribute recommended tourist-related information in real time according to customer attributes and location-specific information

• Miura Peninsula Tourism MaaS Council
• Keihin Kyuko Electric Railway
• Keihin Kyuko Bus
• NTT Docomo
• Yokosuka City
• Miura City

Miyakojima City

• Promote on-demand transport services (like car sharing)
• Enable reservation through mobile app
• Promote cashless payment

• Jordan
• Oriental Consultants
• Ectra
• FeliCa Pottering
• Miyakojima City
• Miyakojima Tourism Association
• Okinawa Prefecture Taxi Hire Association
• Association of Taxi Operators

Miyazaki Prefecture

• Promote public transportation
• Improve convenience of public transportation for domestic tourism
• Ensure coordination of data related to public transportation infrastructure on MaaS app
• Promote cashless fare payment through QR code-based ticketing

• Miyazaki Holdings
• Kyushu Passenger Railway
• West Japan Railway
• All Japan Air Transport
• Toyota Motor
• Miyazaki Toyota Motor
• Miyazaki Kotsu
• Miyako Taxi
• Miyazaki Prefecture
• Miyazaki City
• Nichinan City
• Miyazaki Prefecture Tourism Association
• Miyazaki City Tourism Association
• Nichinan City Tourism Association


• Establish infrastructure to provide services and to place orders
• Build an integrated transport system that can operate in emergency situations like Covid-19

• Miyoshi Town
• Saitama Prefecture
• JVC Kenwood Corporation
• Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance 
• Sanwa Kotsu 
• Prefectural University of Hiroshima
• Ryutsu Keizai University

Nanyo, Ehime Prefecture

• Attract tourists by selling excursion tickets across railroads and buses
• Provide information on transit services
• Maintain route data in line with GTFS
• Promote cashless fare payment through NFC and ABT

• Nanyo Wide Area Cooperation Tourism Exchange Promotion Council
• Iyo Tetsu Nanyo Bus
• All Nippon Airways
• Setouchi Brand Corporation
• Ehime Prefecture
• Nanyo Regional Bureau
• Nanko 9 Municipalities
• Shikoku Passenger Railway
• Iyotetsu Bus
• Uwajima Bus
• Ehime Prefecture Tourism and Products Association
• Tetsunanyo Bus

Northern Kyoto

• Provide last-mile connectivity and expand public transport services
• Provide mobility for the elderly and promote use of public transport
• Integrate transport services (railway, bus, on-demand services, taxi)

• WILLER Alliance
• WILLERS Pte. Ltd.
• WILLER Trains
• Mineyama Motor
• Kyoto Prefecture
• Kyotango City
• Yosano Town

Okinawa Prefecture

• Improve convenience of public transportation
• Integrate public transport services
• Promote car sharing and cashless payments

• Okinawa City monorail
• Naha City
• Ishigaki City
• Urazoe City
• Miyakojima City
• Nakijin Village
• Ie Village
• Zamami Village
• Taketomi Town
• Zenrin
• Ryukyu Bank
• Okinawa Prefecture, Cabinet Office Okinawa General Secretariat Transportation Department


• Prevent traffic congestion due to the influx of private cars during the tourist season
• Promote migration of tourists who tend to concentrate around major tourist facilities

• Utsunomiya City
• National University Corporation
• Utsunomiya University
• NTT Docomo Corporation
• Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc.
• Kanto Motor
• JTB Communication Design 
• East Japan Telegraph and Telephone 
• Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc.

• East Japan Railway Company
• Tobu Railway 
• Tochigi Prefecture Taxi Association
• Michinori Holdings

Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture

• Promote use of on-demand transport services as well as analyse on-demand public transport data for marketing and communication purposes
• Continue MaaS trial conducted in FY2019–20 and continue promoting tourism

• Otsu City
• Keihan Holdings
• Keihan Bus
• Japan Unisys
• Graduate School of Engineering
• Kyoto University
• Department of Social Infrastructure Engineering
• Spatial Informatics Course
• Regional Business Operators (Biwako Hotel, etc.)
• Shiga Prefecture
• Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
• Kinki Transport Bureau
• Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
• Kinki Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry


• Improve accessibility to tourism spots in suburbs
• Disseminate attractive and highly convenient sightseeing and transportation information in city centre
• Link mobility and tourist information data
• Improve system for travel during winter season

• Sapporo Innovation Lab
• HAJ Empa
• Warment
• JTB Hokkaido Division
• Hiragishi Higher
• Sapporo City
• Sapporo Industrial Promotion Foundation
• Sapporo AI Lab
• Sapporo City University
• Docon Co Ltd
• Hokkaido Development Technology Center


• Promote use of on-demand transportation in collaboration with business facilities
• Promote trials of services that contribute to safe and comfortable use of public transportation, such as displaying miscellaneous forecasts and publicising  highlights of tourist destinations extracted by AI from SNS service
• Reduce road congestion
• Link transportation service data of EMot (MaaS app) and other MaaS apps

• Kawasaki City
• Odakyu Electric Railway
• Odakyu Bus
• Kawasaki Transportation Industry
• Kanagawa Taxi

Shizuoka City

• Provide real-time information on traffic congestion and predicted congestion
• Promote AI-based on-demand transportation services
• Promote visits to the city centre and shopping districts around stations

• Shizuoka Railway Co. Ltd.
• Shizuoka City
• Shizuoka Prefecture Taxi Association
• S-Pulse Dream Ferry
• Shizuoka City Council of Social Welfare
• Public Interest Incorporated Foundation
• Planning and Tourism Bureau
• Shizuoka Chamber of Commerce Tokoro
• Shizuoka Bank, Ltd.
• Shizuoka Transport Bureau
• Shizuoka National Highway Office


• Provide on-demand transportation services for specific groups
• Coordinate operations of multi-modal transportation network  (including bicycles)
• Promote use of public transport

• Scheme Verge 
• Takamatsu City
• Kotoden Group
• Takamatsu Shoun
• Shikoku Passenger Railway
• Kagawa Prefecture Passenger Ship Association
• Shikoku Ferry
• Anabuki Kosan
• Takamatsu Airport Kagawa Foundation
• Setouchi Tourism Promotion Organization
• Dentsu
• ANA Holdings
• Softbank
• KPMG Mobility Research Institute
• Non-life Insurance Japan
• Stock Association NTT Docomo Shikoku Branch
• Mitsubishi Jisho
• Kagawa University Hizuka Laboratory
• Kagawa University Yoneya Laboratory
• Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
• Shikoku Transport Bureau
• Shikoku Regional Development Bureau
• Kagawa Prefecture
• Kozushima Town
• Tosho Town
• Naoshima Town
• Matsuo Laboratory
• University of Tokyo
• Mitoyo AI Society Promotion Organization (MAiZM)
• Mitoyo City
• MONET Technologies Inc.
• Zenrin


• Provide real-time information on public buses in the region
• Improve accessibility and convenience of public transport buses for tourists

• Toyako Town
• Lake Toya Onsen Tourism Association
• Donan Bus


• Promote use of public transport and reduce dependence on private cars
• Develop a convenient public transport system for tourists
• Promote local businesses (city restaurants and shops)

• Kanto Railway
• Tsuchiura City
• Tsuchiura Chamber of Commerce and Industry
• Tsuchiura Specified Nonprofit Corporation Town Development Revitalization
• University of Tsukuba Urban Measurement Laboratory
• JR Bus Kanto
• Ibaraki Prefecture Policy Planning Department Transportation

Source: MLIT, Global Mass Transit Research


Support for the development of MaaS infrastructure


AI-based on-demand transportation


MLIT has provided grants to six businesses to promote on-demand transport services as part of the development of MaaS infrastructure. Subsidies have been provided to the following businesses:


AI will be used to determine the optimal operational route in real time based on the vehicle allocation reservation and vehicle position.


Cashless payments


MLIT has provided grants to nine businesses to support the introduction of cashless payments for local public transport as part of the development of MaaS infrastructure. Subsidies have been provided to the following businesses:


Under the initiative, the subsidies will support the deployment of equipment and systems for cashless payments (like QR code-based ticketing, smartcards, bank cards, etc.).  


Recent developments


In the last three months, the following MaaS-related developments were recorded-


In September 2020, the following events were recorded:


In August 2020, the following events were recorded:



In July 2020, the following events were recorded:



The way forward


The strategy adopted by the Japanese authorities to introduce MaaS focuses on the bigger picture, that is, addressing major concerns and issues related to transportation across various regions of the country. The integration of transport services is not limited to cities, but is also planned across regions and across businesses in a comprehensive manner. The pilots are planned and designed to achieve long-term goals, that is, Level 4 integration at the regional level.  


In addition to the integration of services, the focus is also on the provision of last-mile connectivity through on-demand transport (including AVs, car sharing, bike rental, and shuttles), deployment of equipment to support cashless payment on all modes of transport, as well as the inclusion of the latest technology like AI to improve operational services.


(This is Part 2 of a two-part feature. Part 1, released in the Global Mass Transit Monthly issue of September 2020, focused on Japan’s goals, strategies, and trials conducted for MaaS under Smart Mobility Challenge FY2019.)