MaaS, Por Favor

There has been a lot of insider discussion (that is, transportation nerds talking to transportation geeks) about transportation becoming a mobility service. So we thought we would explore what that actually might be for a regular person.

Mind you, these are the early days of developing mobility as a service; remember back to when Amazon.com only sold books, and think about this as an evolution toward a service which eventually becomes a marketplace for innovators and sellers and buyers to all easily create a transaction – you finding the best match for your trip when you need it, where you need it, how you need it.

The Europeans are far ahead of us in implementing some versions of what they call MaaS (Mobility as a Service), but we can whip past them if we just start asking for More Please!

MaaS is already underway in Finland, with 20 other European organizations joining forces to extend similar services throughout the EU. This is a private effort and their business plan is to provide unlimited access to transport services for one hundred euros.

MaaS Finland intends to serve as an operator between transport services providers, users, and third parties. It will combine all the existing transport services into a single mobile application on the ‘single-ticket principle’ and offer personalized transport plans tailored to customer needs.

Sampo Hietanen, CEO of MaaS.Fi, stresses that far from trying to destroy any existing businesses, the company seeks to generate more sales for them. The service promise is to deliver better transport services for consumers in mutual collaboration. “If the MaaS ecosystem fails to contribute to the business of all the companies and parties involved, the concept won’t work,” Hietanen says.

Currently, there are three mobile service options available to consumers: one that combines several modes of transportation for a single trip; one that combines private car use with an extensive range of public transport services; and one that offers a comprehensive service for all transportation needs at a monthly rate.

“You should ask yourself: ‘What would happen if I gave up my car?’ For one hundred euros, you could have unlimited access to public transport services plus limited access to taxi rides and a rented car for a given number of kilometres. A wide range of services at different rates would be available, for example for families and businesses,” explains Hietanen.

He maintains that transportation must be an experience for people: “On average, people use 90 minutes per day to move from one place to another. We want to give this time back to them.”

Austin is competing for a winner-take-all Smart Cities Challenge grant from the US DOT to help move Beyond Traffic. The five finalists will be announced March 14th at SXSW. The city that gets this $40 million grant will have a competitive advantage in bringing together the public agencies and private companies investing heavily in shared vehicle services, automated vehicle technology, and much more. All of the trends – Ford investment in automation and shared passenger vehicles; GM’s investments in Lyft; broader investment in electric fleets to bring operating and maintenance costs way down – suggest American industry is readying itself for a MaaS, por favor world.

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