Today we are living in the digital age where accessing various services on our fingertips has become a new normal. Few years back, to even think of it seemed to be a flight of fantasy. But now with the on-demand services, we are ordering food, booking cabs, making hotel room reservations, shopping online, and many more.
These services have set a new bar as far as the convenience of the customer is concerned. With food delivery apps we don’t need to go to restaurants anymore.
With eCommerce apps, we don’t need to go to the shopping malls. Similarly, what if we don’t need to own a car for commuting?
Seems unlikely? Maybe now but not in the future. Mobility as a service (MaaS) may end our need of owning a car. Let me explain this to you with an example.
Just imagine that you’re a huge Christopher Nolan fan and have all his movies on your laptop which occupies a fair amount of space.
What if you can watch all those movies online on a streaming platform? Sounds better right. For this, all you would need is a sound internet connection and subscription of that streaming platform.
And why only Christopher Nolan movies, the platform will offer you with a lucrative mix of sitcoms, fantasy drama, and insightful documentaries. I think most of us will choose the streaming platform as it’s a smarter option.
MaaS is a streaming platform equivalent in transportation that provides you with a mixture of all the transportation services on-demand making the need of owning a car unviable.
That’s the reason why it is often referred to as the Netflix of transportation. Now, let’s understand what MaaS is all about.
What is MaaS?
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is an on-demand platform that provides tailor made solutions that include various combinations of transportation such as bikes, cars, taxis, car rental/lease, bus, train, and many more.
To put it simply, it provides you with all the transportation services under one platform or app. It’s like any other taxi booking software, except the fact that it provides with a combination of wide array of transportation modes.
How MaaS model works?
For proper implementation of MaaS, various organizations must come up with proper infrastructure. These organizations need to coordinate with the government to meet the needs of the city.
Once it’s implemented then a series of processes like troubleshooting, iteration, and day-to-day operations will take place in various organizations.
Daily operations will be like organization’s current operations but with more inter-organizational cooperation.
Moreover, these organizations will share important data like rider location, vehicle capacity, destination location, and traffic to provide a seamless experience. Let’s see how MaaS will actually operate to provide the rider with a seamless experience.
- Firstly, the user requests for a ride on their smartphone just like they request for any cab.
- Once the application receives the request, an inbuilt journey planner will find the most optimal route between the two locations which may or may not involve several forms of public and private transportation.
- It then provides the rider with a sequence of instructions to follow along with tickets (if required)
- The riders will then follow all the instructions and use their required ticket until they arrive at their destination.
- Payment will be automatically deducted from the users’ subscription model.
Let’s take an example that will explain the working of MaaS in an easy way. Suppose Bill commutes daily to his office from his home in his car to catch a 7 AM train.
He takes 20 minutes to reach the station. The train then drops him after a 40-minute ride. From there he takes a cab to reach his office which take another 15 minutes.
The minimum time taken to finish his commute is 1.5 hours (considering time taken to buy tickets and booking cab).
However, many a time the total time for his commute exceeds 2 hours due to heavy traffic, long queue at the ticket counter, and longer waiting time for cab arrival.
If Bill uses MaaS solution then it will suggest him with the best combination of transportation service that would minimize his total commutation time by a great extent.
For example, MaaS will book a cab that will pick him up from home and drop him at the station at 6.50 AM.
Bill doesn't need to bother about buying a ticket at the counter as he will already have one on his phone via MaaS.
Once the train drops him to his stop, a cab will already be there for him to board which will drop him at the office at the earliest.
Benefits of MaaS
MaaS has a plethora of benefits which can be divided into two categories which are personal and societal.
Since MaaS uses pooled resources from public and private organizations, it provides optimal and cost-efficient services in which the total expenditure is lower than owning a personal vehicle.
The routes created by the MaaS provides its riders with the highest level of customization and convenience.
It’s because the riders can pick and customize their routes based on various parameters like speed of arrival, cost, and eco-friendliness.
Instead of paying different bills for individual transit, cabs, and auto, the rider with the help MaaS can pay through various simplified options.
These options are: pay as you use, recurring monthly subscription, or with prepaid accounts where deductions will take place after every use.
Healthier and stress-free commute
MaaS includes commute through bikes and encourages its users to take a walk for the most efficient route.
MaaS compels its riders to be more proactive than the private cab hire.
Moreover, MaaS also contributes largely to reduce traffic congestion which reduces the overall commuting time. These factors result in a stress-free commute.
The rise in the urbanization is adding traffic daily. MaaS offers a possible solution by providing pooling resources from public transit, private cab, and many other services.
The MaaS model brings all these modes of transport together and provides an optimal combined service.
Mobility as a solution (MaaS) provides a combination of public transportation and private cab services along with autonomous self-driving vehicles.
This eliminates the human error and enhances the safety of the riders as well as the pedestrians.
Challenges in MaaS’ implementation
MaaS is a superior alternative than the existing transportation services. However, there are many roadblocks that it has to overcome before it gets implemented. Let’s have a look at all those challenges one by one.
Public transportation system
Proper implementation of MaaS in any city requires a robust public transportation system.
Usually, the major cities are the one that have developed a strong public transportation networks to overcome traffic congestion.
However, smaller cities and rural areas lack such transportation system. Due to which the implementation of MaaS would be difficult.
Implementation of MaaS is heavily dependent on the public and private organizations who shares the data rights.
Thus, the data sharing needs proper oversight, nation-wide discussions, and strategic partnerships to see the transition.
Needs access to proper technology
To implement MaaS, you would need access to the latest technology. The recent advancements have encouraged us regarding the feasibility of the MaaS model.
However, it’s still seems like a dream to many, especially where this technology is inaccessible.
Lack of infrastructure, capital, and resources are some of the major reason for this inaccessibility.
Moreover, there are many transit agencies that lack adequate resources for the investment in the technological infrastructure that supports MaaS.
These limitations are present at the individual, societal, and organizational level are the most significant roadblock for the implementation of MaaS.
Implementation costs are high
The cost involved in development, testing, and implementation of the infrastructure and technology is high.
The cost of implementation is shared between the private and public organizations.
Private organizations do manage to get the resources required for its implementation; however, there are many public organizations who can’t do the same.
Implementation of MaaS will bring massive disruption in the transportation. Due to which it’s necessary that there is a proper oversight.
The implementation may result to some unintended consequences apart from the expected implications.
As a result, it becomes important that the government and the local authorities provide their absolute support.
Massive cultural and economic shift
Implementation of MaaS would bring a massive cultural and economic shift. Presently, majority of the people depend on public transport for their commute.
The advent of app-based cab services has also seen a rise in commutation by private cabs.
Implementation of MaaS would surely discourage private cabs and will cause a huge paradigm shift in all the developed and developing countries.
We have already witnessed a huge disruption in the taxi industry with the rise of the taxi hailing services.
Perhaps, we will see yet another disruption with MaaS, which will not only affect the taxi industry but the whole transportation system.
MaaS offers solutions to some of our biggest transportation issues. If it’s implemented then our commutation will be smoother than ever.
However, implementation of MaaS won’t be that easy as it will face several challenges in its path.
But time and now, we have seen the tasks that seemed impossible a few years ago were successfully accomplished in a short period.
So, we might see a successful implementation of MaaS across the world that will change the way we commute forever.