What Is Mobility as a Service?

The clear meaning and examples of MaaS

Mobility as a Service, also referred to as Mobility-as-a-Service or MaaS, is a term generally used to describe a singular system that allows users to plan, book, and pay for all of the individual travel services required for a trip from one point of sale.

The phrase can also describe travel or city planning initiatives designed to improve access to travel, streamline the user experience, or fill gaps in existing travel infrastructure by embracing alternative forms of transport such as e-bikes and trams rideshare services, or autonomous vehicles.

What Is MaaS?

Traditionally, when planning a trip, travelers would have to use separate companies or services to book individual parts of a journey. For example, for a trip to the airport, one would need to check the bus schedule via one app, pay for the bus ticket when on the bus, buy a separate ticket for the train at the train station, and then possibly even buy another bus ticket for yet another bus trip to get to the correct terminal after arriving at the airport.

This outdated system is considered by many to be inconvenient and frustrating for the consumer and also inefficient for the various travel companies involved. The Mobility as a Service philosophy aims to streamline the entire travel experience by moving away from the focus on companies and approaching travel as more of a service that can cater to citizens' individual needs.

Private companies can run Mobility as a Service initiatives to improve efficiency and the customer experience or on a city, state, or even national level to lower public transport expenses and reduce congestion on roads.

MaaS Examples

Due to the numerous ways that we can apply the Mobility as a Service philosophy to organizations and planning initiatives, there’s a rather large variety of services and strategies that can fall under its umbrella.

Here are some of the more common examples of MaaS.

  • Linked payment services. For example, the ability to pay for train and bus travel with the same card or pass.
  • Linked booking services. An online tool or app allows people to plan and book multiple legs of a trip simultaneously.
  • Scooter and bike rentals. A strategy used by cities to fill in gaps in a public transport network can also double as a way to reduce pollution.
  • Car rental and taxi services. While taxi and car rental companies traditionally worked independently, they are now being integrated more and more into MaaS services.
  • Rideshare services. Uber, Curb, Lyft, and Didi are all examples of rideshare services that significantly improve consumers' travel experience.
  • Autonomous vehicles. Autonomous or driverless cars will be a MaaS game-changer once they go mainstream. Tesla, Uber, and several other companies are already heavily into developing and testing their various driverless vehicles.

Benefits of the Mobility as a Service Model

There are several benefits to embracing a MaaS strategy when it comes to travel and city planning. 

  • Efficiency. Connecting various services to a central planner database can make it easier for users to find the fastest route quickly.
  • Lower costs per trip. Booking multiple parts of a journey at once can often result in lower fees than booking each service individually.
  • Less need for car ownership. Improved access to alternative transport options lowers the pressure for households to own a car.
  • Less congestion on roads. With cheaper and faster transport options, fewer people need to drive.
  • Lower pollution levels. Alternative travel options such as bikes and scooters reduce the need for cars, busses, and taxis.

It’s important to note while there are numerous groups and organizations around the world using Mobility as a Service or MaaS in their name, a service does not need to use either term to be a Mobility as a Service initiative.

It’s also worth noting Mobility as a Service can also apply to a single service if it is part of a Mobility as a Service initiative. For example, suppose a city created a bike rental service as part of their MaaS planning. In that case, it’s still a Mobility as a Service product even if a customer only uses the bike rental service to travel from Point A to Point B.

Was this page helpful?