Mobility as a Service (MaaS) was launched about a decade ago to facilitate the digital opportunities for true multimodal travel. It was envisaged to pave the way for a better future for European citizens’ mobility by offering a seamless journey experience encompassing various modes of transportation, eliminating barriers and administrative hurdles. In the years since, a number of innovative solutions have been put forward while many questions remain regarding the pace of change.

Some argue that the reality of MaaS has so far fallen short of this promise due to the presence of multiple MaaS operators and mobility providers (PTO and Private operators) , each creating their own isolated systems and features. The lack of synchronisation between different mobility modes of transportation, such as active mobility, micro-mobility, shared mobility, cars, trains, airplanes, along with the absence of interoperability between private and public entities, has hindered the progress of MaaS Market.

The fragmentation of the MaaS market remains a barrier. Mr Joost Vantomme, CEO of ERTICO and Vice President of the MaaS Alliance – a public-private partnership dedicated to creating and advancing the foundations for a common approach to MaaS – remarks, “Despite the efforts of European institutions, a genuine single market based on an open ecosystem for all mobility does not exist yet in Europe. In order to meet the diverse mobility needs, both local and long-distance, market players need to focus on lowering bureaucratic and technical barriers, as well as enhancing scalability and interoperability. Merely covering a single area is insufficient to adequately address the comprehensive range of mobility requirements”.

Nevertheless, MaaS operators are not giving up on the promise MaaS proposed: they believe that the key to removing barriers for realising the full potential of MaaS lies in synchronising and “de-siloing” transportation systems. This includes the implementation of common Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for accessing each other’s data such as routing, journey planning, timetables, and for enabling resale, booking and single payment, just to mention a few. Open APIs play a crucial role in enabling seamless integration and overcoming the barriers that currently exist: the collaboration of various actors (public/private) in cooperative efforts is what will make an impact: 1+1=3 is the motto.

Regulatory environment for MaaS

The European Institutions must respond to the needs of MaaS to fully unlock the potential of providing users and cities with better mobility services: the establishment of an open ecosystem, data sharing mechanisms, open payment systems, and user-centric services. The European Commission has been working with cross-sector stakeholders to propose and implement strategies that are also expected to facilitate MaaS. Some recent initiatives are: the MDMS (Multimodal Digital Mobility Services) initiative, the Data Act set of rules, and the MMTIS (Multimodal Travel Information Services) delegated regulation. First signals on MDMS are however suggesting that the proposed regulation will not deliver its results. There is the need to accelerate working and implementing on the rules that govern MaaS, to push coopetition among stakeholders and to set a regulatory framework that can effectively allow MaaS to reach its full potential.

To achieve a level-playing field and encourage cooperation between public transport operators (PTOs) and private companies, tailored mandates and regulatory measures are necessary.  Cooperation is not a buzz word; it is a must. The European Commission should facilitate this like it does with urban mobility initiatives through the EGUM (European Expert Group on Urban Mobility), an initiative that is established to manage the right input and output from various stakeholders, in order to ensure that all the players are aligned and working towards a common goal.

ERTICO and the MaaS Alliance to play a role in deploying MaaS promise

ERTICO, as a partnership of different actors with different scopes, plays a significant role in the MaaS landscape. The MaaS Alliance was set up in 2015 to kick-off the discussion and to create momentum. The MaaS Alliance became a genuine trade association where the contribution of ERTICO is now happening at many fronts. Not only does ERTICO’s CEO hold the position of vice President in the Board of the MaaS Alliance, but ERTICO also supports with content leveraging work through its communications team, through its thought leadership (via the City Moonshot) and through various of its platforms in the data sharing community: TM 2.0, TN-ITS and the NAPCORE project.

The strong connection between ERTICO and the MaaS Alliance adds weight to the mission of MaaS: opening the way to a truly multimodal one-stop-shop journey and travel experience with single ticketing, single booking, single payment. Says Mr Joost Vantomme, “My advocacy efforts with regulators, alignment with partners, and dedication to building bridges between different stakeholders reinforce the goals of ‘de-siloification’, achieving a level-playing field, and enhancing the customer journey. Ultimately, the future is about synchronising transport modes with the user needs, be it moving people or moving goods.”