Before going to the MaaS-Market conference in London, created and organized by ITS International, I  didn’t really know what to expect given the idea of mobility as a service is a relatively new kid on the block.

MAAS is in a kind of proof of business phase. Interesting to learn whether real operational data is beginning to materialize. Also, who is taking the risks in the MAAS business model. Who is the boss and who is investing in MAAS. Public/private funding?

Learnings and takeaways.

A well-attended international event indeed. The delegate list counted 222 names from all over Europe and quite a few flew in from the US and even Hong Kong.

From the presentations, there was a distinct difference in understanding mobility as a service between US and Europe. The European driver is to reach greener cities and eliminating congestion by converting car commute to shared mobility commute. The American approach is more focused on how to streamline use of the private car, finding parking and e-hailing services.

Anne Berner, Minister of Transport and Communications, Government of Finland

Most inspiring for me was the speech delivered by Anne Berner, Minister of Transport and Communications, Government of Finland. She is leading a purge and replace on transport legislation in Finland. Out goes 180 old paragraphs and in comes 90 new paragraphs. The aim is to go from transport policies to policies of data and facilitating.

Finland is counting on creating frameworks and regulations to allow  private startups and innovation to drive the evolution of transport, mobility and MaaS repeating the proud legacy of the rise of Nokia for mobile phones.

Anne Burner’s philosophy for Mobility as a Service is based on a foundation of trust, open data and API, enabling safe journey from A to B as a simple transaction with one payment and Emission reduction. She asks: What should I deliver for you to give up your car?

According to Anne Berner, the consumer is ready for mobility as a service. The challenge is to convince the providers of shared mobility service and to get leadership out of silos. She shared with us that it is not easy to drive the change to MaaS.

I asked whether there was any knowledge and policy sharing between the governments in the Nordic countries: Anne Berner responded that she is head of a committee of Nordic Ministers of Transport. Finland is working closest together with the Norwegians. As a minimum, the Nordic Countries should work for and coordinate Emission reduction and open data and API.

Sampo Hiatenen, MaaS Global

Sampo Hiatanen would not mind that Mass Global becomes the Nokia of MaaS. The implementation in Helsinki of the whim app has been hyped almost globally and MaaS Global is now also entering the UK and the Netherlands by delivering whim services in West Midlands and Amsterdam in 2017.

The first data from consumer use of whim in Helsinki so far supports the prediction that MaaS can improve use of shared mobility.

Sampo Hiatenen reported that use of public transport and cab is increasing significantly. Number of taxi trips went from 1 trip a month to 4,5 trips, public transport share of trips increased from 48% to 74% and share of trips made in your own car went down from 40% to 20%. Note that the figures were based on a very limited dataset as the Whim operation in Helsinki at this time is in a pilot phase only.

According to Sampo Hiatenen there are three ways for the MaaS markets to evolve:

  1. The winner take it all. (global player dominates)
  2. Public Transportation takes it all
  3. Private aggregators establish the open market (the Finnish model)

The future will show.

Other Take Aways from the conference:

#1 Is Maas delivering?

Too early to say. Large scale roll out to the general public in a city is still in the future. The investment in system and commercial agreements are not trivial, and more important the legislators and actors are only beginning to grasp the concept.

#2 Operational data?

The reports on the conference had very limited operational data to share, mostly because it was limited pilot projects. The indications of more use of public and private shared mobility using MaaS so far are positive (as reported by Sampo Hiatenen and more) – encouraging actors to seek ways to go to the next level.

#3 Who is investing in the MaaS business model?

Until now the projects have been operated mostly on initiative of local government and public transport operators through pilot projects. Some major players on the mobility scene and are investing in some of the companies who develops MaaS systems and MaaS providers. A few examples are: DB, Transdev, Ericcson, Hacon, and Siemens.

#4 Who is the boss of MaaS?

It is not clear yet what kind of organization is the winner of the MaaS marketplace. The foundation (Open data and API and third party sell of public transport tickets) needs to be in place for a classical MaaS setup to work. The concept of aggregating and bundling public transport tickets with private operated shared mobility service including cab’s is a radical new business model for mobility.  The actors regulating and delivering public and private operated shared mobility still have to figure out how to deliver a complete package simplifying the decision on selecting modes of transport from A to B. Is it ok that private companies can operate a  profitable business in reselling public transport tickets bundled with private shared mobility fares?

Final remarks and reflections:

To enter the MaaS market place right now requires a strong drive and a firm belief that the concept will prevail and patient investors willing to fund and bridge the gap from now until the regulation of open data, open api and right to resell public transport tickets is in place to open the shared mobility market and MaaS. Given the spirit from the MaaS-Market conference it seems that there are firm believers and investment behind to promote the good cause.

There were no direct inputs from the private shared mobility providers on the conference. It seems their support is taken for granted. A voice or two coming from the private actors would be beneficial in understanding their contribution. The private operated shared mobility schemes are a key element to the concept of MaaS. Many of the private mobility providers are young start ups compared to well established and partly public funded bus and rail operations. The differences in ownership and company cultures are bound to create tensions while trying to come together in an open marketplace for shared mobility.

I look forward to next year’s conference to see how far we have come in creating critical mass of MaaS, rules of engagement and end-user buy in. Sweden, Finland and Austria all claimed to be the first to launch full scale MaaS very soon. The race is on!