A riveting exchange of experiences and opinions on Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) took place this week in Westminster. ERTICO’s Piia Karjalainen (Senior Manager of the MaaS Alliance) attended a public inquiry at the UK’s House of Commons Transport Committee in Westminster, along with other knowledgeable MaaS experts: Paul Campion (Chief Executive Officer, Transport Systems Catapult), Simon Ho (Chair of Executive Board, TravelSpirit Foundation) and Dr Maria Kamargianni (Head of MaaSLab, UCL Energy Institute).

During the meeting, the four experts answered questions from the Members of the Parliament about the use, benefits, risks and implementation of MaaS, resulting in a very productive meeting, highlighting what need to be the next steps to develop this new transport service. Based on the evidence provided, the Committee will publish its recommendations for a national Mobility-as-a-Service policy for consideration in the UK Department for Transport.

How is MaaS different from what we have today?

MaaS can provide the integration of different transport services into a single mobility service, accessible on demand. “MaaS creates a real added-value compared to existing services and a product, MaaS really gets you there”, said Ms Karjalainen. This would mean creating a really attractive alternative for the use and ownership of private cars.

The three key factors that set MaaS apart from other transport offerings are:

  1. It is a unique service that includes a multitude of transport modes on demand;
  2. The implementation of a single payment through a digital platform. “You pay for a monthly subscription and basically all your travel needs for that certain period of time are covered”, reported Ms Karjalainen;
  3. Real-time travel information, thanks to which the user can always be informed about various aspects of the trip, including delays, disruptions and others.

“Thanks to digitalisation, we have for the first time the impression of what users really need and therefore MaaS is developing based on the demand we have”, said Piia Karjalainen from ERTICO. “With MaaS, the user is provided information throughout the journey, thanks to a reliable service operator who gives the customer the information needed in case of any disruptions during the journey”, concluding by saying that a framework for a Bill of rights for the MaaS user  will be presented  this September at the ITS World Congress in Copenhagen.

The discussion proceeded with a series of questions and answers about the benefits of MaaS, the risks of introducing this new integrated transport service and, most importantly, the obstacles that this service is facing in its implementation. With regards to this last aspect, all experts shared a common view: “Open data policy is a really good starting point for regulation if you would like to promote a MaaS environment”. Piia Karjalainen emphasized this by citing the Finnish example, where the government recently adopted a law that obligates transport providers to share data.

Paul Campion, Chief Executive Officer, Transport Systems Catapult, underlined the need to work with other people and find out what are the barriers and obstacles to the development of the MaaS system, while Mr Ho concluded by saying that “we need more experimentation to convince people to make investments and take this further. Only this way we can get companies to do commercial agreements”.

One last remark was made ragarding the role of governments.

“A central role is played by data policy. Giving open access to data and making sure that there’s access to the market for several transport service operators can provide the chance to integrate and have new mobility services “, said Piia Karjalainen.

The meeting at the UK House of Commons Transport Committee had a successful outcome. Many questions were raised and clarifications were given, concluding with all members agreeing on the importance of collaboration, integration of the transport modes and creating policies to enable a “MaaS friendly” market characterised by data sharing, to enhance the user’s experience with transportation.

The full a public inquiry is available at this link.