Developing Mobility as a Service: user, operator and governance perspectives

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is an emerging concept aiming to fulfill individual mobility needs in a sustainable way by combining different transport services. A new topical collection in European Transport Research Review provides an overview of the state of MaaS development with a focus on rural, urban and work-related mobility.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) can be briefly described as an emerging concept that aims to fulfill individual’s mobility needs in a sustainable way by combining different transport services to seamless trips, offering an appealing alternative to owning and using a private car.

The history of MaaS by name is not long, but MaaS can be seen as an evolutionary continuation of integrating mobility services. These integration and customization efforts enabled by wider digitalization are related to many collaboration opportunities and challenges across diverse sets of actors in the mobility sector and beyond.

This new topical collection in European Transport Research Review provides an overview of the state of MaaS development and discusses governance issues, pilot and survey results with a focus on rural, urban and work-related mobility, as well as including new mobility offerings into mobility services.

The research highlights the importance of opening access to information and payment data services of transport operators for third-party resale and use. However, providing comprehensive mobility packages encounters various governance issues.

For example, there is no harmonized legal base for multimodal travel chains. Thus, passenger rights cannot be guaranteed on events delaying one segment of the journey and causing the passenger to miss the following segment. Hence, it is necessary to amend transport regulations from a multimodal perspective.

Furthermore, there are open questions about the roles of stakeholders, ambiguous understanding of the mobility platform and the need for public and landowner participation in the development process to enable market-based demand for MaaS in cities.

The traditionally city-based scope of MaaS pilots and research should be widened to rural areas as the integration of public and private mobility services may result in cost savings for public sector, improve vehicle occupancy rates and reduce vehicle mileage and emissions.

Public transport has widely been accepted as being the backbone of MaaS offerings but car and bike sharing may enhance the overall utility. Segmenting user groups is needed to cater to the needs of various users, but it is difficult for MaaS offerings to compete with private cars, especially as private car costs are massively underestimated.

Experiences of electric vehicles and mobility services on business travel may help to positively influence users’ attitudes towards new mobility concepts. Integrated in-company multimodal mobility offerings also enable possibility of significant reductions in mobility costs for the business travel.

From a transport planning perspective, decision parameters for mobility services such as ridesourcing may differ from those for public transport and more data on willingness to pay and travel times is needed to improve the modelling. One solution for future last-mile service within MaaS offerings may be shared automated vehicles, which also require new methods for modelling.

We need further evaluation of various MaaS design variations, with or without bundling, in both stated preference and in living lab settings. This pathway goes hand in hand with longer pilot duration and higher emphasis on responsible innovation principles.

We also need further studies evaluating business models and market constellations as services and actors are evolving. For this aspect, we also need further governance studies, both in-depth cases and cross-comparison, accounting for diverse and changing networks of actors in operations, planning and policy.

Finally, there is a further need for legislative studies on user rights and operator responsibilities, but also more fundamental studies on ethical principles for the ongoing digitalization of mobility services.

Given that developing MaaS is intertwined with the development of sustainable transport system as a whole, including specifically public transport system and new forms of micro-mobility together with the challenges of digitalization, the papers of this topical collection are relevant to European transport researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.

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