The best of MaaS is “yet to come”
Mobility is not a product you own, but a service you use. That, in a nutshell, is the revolutionary concept called MaaS (short for Mobility as a Service, of course). How is that working out so far? We asked mobility expert Lukas Neckermann (pictured, left).
Cars waste time and money when they’re standing still – which they almost always do – and they produce congestion and pollution when they’re moving around. The smarter solution is to get your mobility kicks via online platforms that offer the exact types of mobility you need, when and where you need them: shared, micro, public; between cities or inside them. That all sounds great in theory. How far have we come in practice?
At present, which of the MaaS platforms has the most advanced offer?
“The more mobility modes a MaaS platform can offer, the better. CityMapper, Google Maps and Moovit do an excellent job of providing transport information across several modes – including even walking.”
“However, for the consumer, it’s essential that they also allow payment across all modes, be it car-sharing, ride-hailing, micro-mobility, car-pooling or public transport. Trafi, for example, enables this via a highly impressive partnership with cities like Berlin and Munich, just as Whim does with Helsinki and Vienna.”
Which ones look the most promising?
“I’m convinced the most promising examples of MaaS are yet to come. They will come from those apps that people are already using every day. More and more, we’ll see payment for mobility services being integrated into apps we’re already using regularly – for example for booking restaurants, shopping or travel. Perhaps we’re not yet associating those apps with mobility at all, but they are becoming mobility-enabled thanks to services like Splyt.”
What kind of promises are deliverable right now, and which ones need more work?
“The ultimate promise of MaaS is to make access to mobility easier and more comfortable than owning a private car. For this to happen, MaaS providers must recognise the diverse needs of the market. Today, you may need the convenience of a bicycle, tomorrow it might be the comfort of ride-hailing. Or the cost-efficiency of riding a bus.”
“While it’s understandable that cities have an interest in promoting ‘their’ public transport above all other mobility modes, that’s actually counterproductive. It alienates the user. All modes should be similarly available on a MaaS platform, without prejudice or preference from the provider.”
Which are the geographies where MaaS solutions are present today – and where are they still conspicuously absent?
“We’re still in the early stages. Most MaaS platforms today are city-specific. They begin and end at the borders of the cities they were born in, and there is still far too little coverage in the countryside.”
“There are also very few examples of ‘roaming’ between platforms – which I consider to be essential for the long-term success of the MaaS model. Imagine that you’d need a different SIM card for your phone, each time you left the country. Would you stick with that provider? This lack of cohesion between providers is a relatively easy problem to solve. Yet it’s an issue that service providers have yet to tackle.”
Last but not least: are MaaS platforms, as they currently stand, an attractive enough proposition for corporate fleets?
“For companies with a specific profile, corporate MaaS platforms can be very useful. In particular, if they’re located where there is good coverage from public and private mobility services, and if they can integrate their own car-sharing or pool-car fleets into the model. Corporates can lower their carbon footprint, create cost-savings within their fleets and even build staff satisfaction – especially among urban, car-free millennials.”