MaaS (Mobility as a Service) is a global public transport megatrend.
It's a deliberate shift towards integrated, multi-modal transportation systems that provide door-to-door services, including public transportation, ridesharing, and bike-sharing.
Let us pose for a moment that the Victorian Government wanted to achieve MaaS on a bigger scale across Greater Melbourne. What would this require?
MaaS and the New Stakeholders
Aggregator/integrator/broker (new) - the aggregator acts as a data broker to service the data and information sharing requirements of the Operators and MaaS Platform Provider.
Platform Provider (new) - designs and offers the MaaS “value proposition” to the customer.
The Public Transport Business Model and New Contracting Models
There is opportunity to develop what are known as mode agnostic mobility contracts, and that could facilitate the scaling of MaaS.
The current franchising model separates modes under contracting arrangements and across different private organisations.
Converting mode-specific contracts to mode agnostic mobility contracts, requiring the delivery of certain trips and a certain number of trips, where the operator decides what mode should be used, could allow MaaS to scale.
For operators, being required to contract under mode agnostic mobility contracts would be a notable change, but if returns were within acceptable levels, and costs understood, then there may be competitive advantage for those private operators who disrupt themselves here.
For government, moving to mode agnostic contracts would be a brave new world. Mode agnostic contracts however could give governments greater flexibility in their contracting, fare setting, and extending the definition of public transport to include a whole cross section of transport sharing and on-demand services - and as a way of meeting objectives around sustainability.
Some Questions for Forward-Thinking Governments
1. Could MaaS reduce subsidy for government in the provision of public transport services?
2. What are the requirements of the private sector suppliers for MaaS?
3. What is the opportunity to build into future transport contracts the elements needed for success of MaaS in the future?
4. To what extent can mode specific contracts used under franchising today be modified to achieve MaaS at scale?
An overarching requirement for the supply side in the MaaS ecosystem is partnership and co-operation between various players.
The aspirations for MaaS, as contributing to the sustainability of cities, cannot be achieved without a willingness to explore these questions – and formulate commercial and policy structures to help the transition.