MaaS: A “one-stop shop” business model for transportation
Mobility as a Service aims to consolidate all modes of transport–bike sharing, carsharing, taxis, public transit–into one unified mobile service within a single app. By means of a unified payment platform, users can easily weigh their transit options and make economically- and environmentally-conscious choices. At the Movin’On Summit 2018, MaaS Global’s Sampo Hietanen hosted working sessions with CGI Finland’s Karri Salminen as well as STM’s Luc Lamontagne, Marcon’s Catherine Kargas and STL’s Ali Haloui to discuss both the business and the citizen-centric aspects of this new business model for transportation.
Why is MaaS currently picking up? On average, a car costs $30,000 and is used less than 5% of the time. With the objective of providing a convenient and affordable alternative solution to car ownership, MaaS Global launched Whim in Helsinki in 2016. The first MaaS app of its kind, it had over 20,000 downloads within the first three weeks of launching. Today, it has close to 50,000 users, who can choose between using the app’s pay-as-you-go system or monthly plans to access taxis, public transport, car services and bike sharing.
Three economic advantages to MaaS
As Sampo Hietanen puts it, “something needs to really compete with the dream and the freedom of car ownership.” And for both citizens and businesses, MaaS might be a good contender. Here’s what we can gain from this type of business model:
- Reduction in traffic: With fewer car owners, there will be fewer cars on the road.
- Investing in the local economy: Every time a car is purchased, buyers’ purchasing power is displaced from the local economy. MaaS presents an opportunity to put that money back in citizens’ pockets.
- Job creation: With a spike in carsharing, taxis, public transit and other mobility services, local jobs will be generated.
Seven challenges to MaaS
“The cities have to become the instigators of change–and the city itself has to have a vision for this change,” said Catherine Kargas at the Movin’On Summit 2018. But it doesn’t mean sharing and collaborating has suddenly been made easy. Here are some of the bumps in the road that still need to be addressed:
- Data sharing: Today, data is power. Will businesses be willing to share those assets with competitors?
- Back-office integration: Who runs the day-to-day operations?
- Ownership of the customer: Individual companies–from fleet managers to taxi services–will be concerned with the health of their own enterprise, and the retention of their clientele.
- Branding: The current system consists of many private companies, each with their own identity. A unified mobility model will require a new branding model altogether.
- Lack of understanding: If you stopped a stranger on the street and asked for their thoughts on MaaS, you would most likely get a blank stare in return.
- Lack of collaboration: Today, the transportation landscape is made up of many independent companies. To implement the vision of MaaS, these parties will have to work as one.
- Lack of proven implementations: Without case studies to rely on, cities will have to take a leap of faith and be open to trial and error.
“MaaS involves multiple stakeholders that are also in the private sector,” said Ali Haloui at the Movin’On Summit 2018. “The idea is getting everyone to work together on those common objectives.” By bringing the public and private sector together under one common goal, a new vision for sustainable mobility could be brought to life.
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