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MaaS: Where Telematics Meets SimCity.

A revolution is going on about how people and cities are looking at transportation and how we get from "here" to "there." It's where transportation seamlessly meets services.

"The problem with everybody owning a car is that cars are effectively underutilized" writes Raul Kripalani, backend & distributed systems engineer for consensusX ( "On top of that, owning a car comes with fixed costs: insurance, maintenance, parking, driving license renewals, etc."

For these and other reasons, people are increasingly turning away from their own cars and toward other modes of transportation, including public mass transit, taxis, bicycles, walking, and a host of individualized transit-sharing services, including car-, ride- and bike-sharing. Soon to come into this mix will be autonomous vehicles (AV), which provide a variety of benefits in terms of safety, traffic flow and freeing up driver time, even though individual AV ownership may also be an example of underutilization.

Regardless of transportation mode, getting from Point A to Point B requires planning, scheduling, trade-offs, and money (for fares or vehicle ownership, or both). Adding cloud-based computing to that, as has been happening in the past few years, especially in Europe, creates a new twist on local, personal transportation. "Mobility becomes a service rather than a resource you own," continues Kripalani.

That service has a name: Mobility as a Service. MaaS is about technology, says Shaleen Srivastava, vice president (Traffic) North America for PTV Group ( "Digitization, connectivity, and technological breakthroughs are substantially changing the way we live, work--and move. MaaS will fundamentally change our daily lives, our cities and our mobility behavior."


MaaS is almost like telematics on steroids. It's a system designed to power the simulations, operations and controls related to transportation and mobility, usually in a defined area. Think of the SimCity video game, but MaaS is not a game. MaaS is akin to a supervisory control and data acquisition system for area-wide transportation and mobility, encompassing modes of transportation, schedules, pickup and drop off, and reservations/ticketing/payment. "MaaS puts users, both travelers and goods, at the core of transport services," according to the MaaS Alliance (, "offering them tailor-made mobility solutions based on their individual needs. This means that for the first time, easy access to the most appropriate transport mode or service will be included in a bundle of flexible travel service options for end users.

MaaS combines real-time scheduling, control, and payment into one service based on the time of day, destination, the traveler's need (think: urgency), and the availability of transportation modes. By entering these and other parameters into a smartphone app, MaaS returns with the best way to get to the desired destination. This optimized itinerary might involve several modes of transportation.

Once the itinerary is accepted, MaaS books the mobility services as needed (e.g., reserve bus or train seats, and reserve car-share). The MaaS output includes the costs for every step in the itinerary, including optional modes of travel. This transparency lets users evaluate the trade-offs between speed, comfort, and price. The traveler can then buy the optimized journey-all from the smartphone app.

As stated in a white paper published by the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC;, "In MaaS, the consumer purchases a 'package' of transportation services, typically on a monthly basis. Further, MaaS is operated by one entity, which can be a public or private organization. While mobility management can be performed by one organization, it is not necessarily responsible for negotiating financial relationships with transportation service providers. Finally, mobility management's objectives are typically more focused on the traveler with special needs, while MaaS' objectives focus is on providing individual mobility with a better level of service than that of a single-occupant vehicle."

Here's another major difference that sets MaaS apart from "just" the mash-up of automated information technologies that put printed maps and schedules, and ticketing processes on-line: MaaS gives individuals the ability to not only plan a trip, but actually take it-from the "first mile" to the "last mile," and regardless of whether the trip is a daily commute, a weekly shopping trip, an emergency, or a spur-of-the-moment escape.


Several factors are driving MaaS. First, the technology is now both widely available and accepted, including cloud computing, WiFi, global positioning systems, smartphones, "big data," the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Mobile phones act as personal and mobile data collection devices (especially where cities cannot install sensors for data collection and visibility into the context of mobility, both vehicular and human), remote controllers, and command centers. People willingly accept something from smartphones that was never before possible: "People can be 'mobile' and connected all the time," says William El Kaim, founder/consultant of Enterprise Architecture Digital Codex, a consulting firm focused on enterprise architecture integration and e-commerce ( However, points out NADTC: "Smartphones are not, in fact, ubiquitous. Neither are credit cards or bank accounts."

Second, the "sharing" mindset is taking hold everywhere (think: Airbnb, Uber). Increasing numbers of people, especially those living in cities, are shunning individual car ownership for a variety of reasons (cost, continued maintenance, depreciation, parking, etc.), preferring either mass transit when available, comfortable and convenient, or, with increasing regularity, car/ride/bike-share services.

Third, cash-strapped cities need help. Urban planners worldwide are tackling a variety of problems, such as population movement from rural to urban areas, the supply and demands of different demographics (youthful versus aging, flexible lifestyles, and shopping versus entertainment versus medical services availability), and pollution control (including noise, air, and light pollution). Add to that the healthier choices people are making about their mobility: walking and biking, versus motorized transport.

There are just so many roads, tracks and dedicated bike lanes cities can construct. "In lieu of large civil infrastructure projects, transportation systems are increasingly being augmented with a range of information technologies and new forms of transportation that make them smarter, safer, more efficient, more integrated," says Kaim.

"Overall, MaaS will be a good thing for most travelers as well as the planet. Services are a lot easier to optimize than several million peoples' individual behaviors, and since cost and environmental impact are actually correlated in transportation, service providers will have the financial incentive to do this optimization in a way that will mostly benefit the environment," says Christian Fritz, who at the time he said that was area manager, representation and planning, for PARC (Palo Alto Research Center;


Contributing Editor

Potential of MaaS in a Different Geographical Scope


* Objectives: Reduce the use of private cars (causing problems related to congestion, parking, and emissions and air quality)

* Based on: Existing public transport, extended with rental and shared cars and bikes, etc.

Suburban Areas

* Objectives: No need for a second car; first-mile and last-mile accessibility

* Based on: Park & Ride services, on-demand transport, and other services connecting suburban to city transport services

Rural Areas

* Objectives: Increase efficiency, maintain sufficient service level, improve accessibility

* Based on: Demand-responsive transport, taxis, buses and connections to long-haul transport, car-pooling; parcel deliveries, library services, grocery and medicine distribution as add-on services

Long-Haul Transport

* Objectives: Offer easy all-in-one packages

* Based on: Long-haul transport services (including aviation), ride-sharing; accommodation, event tickets as add-ons

Source: MaaS Alliance

               Trend                        Description

Consumer         Better interchange is      Interchanges between
Expectations     expected by consumers      transport modes are
                                            significant pain points.
                                            There is an increasing
                                            focus on the whole journey
                                            experience and for better
                                            interchange for travelers.

                 Demand for the Sharing     The car sharing market is
                   Economy is growing       predicted to have a
                                            compound annual growth
                                            rate of 23% between 2013
                                            and 2025.

                    Demand for the          The growth of
                "as a service" Economy      service-based platforms in
                       is growing           other sectors has been
                                            strong in recent years,
                                            with industry analysts
                                            predicting further growth.
                                            Notable examples include
                                            Spotify, Netflix and
                                            Amazon Prime. The fact
                                            that many cars are parked
                                            for over 90% of the time
                                            may provide an opportunity
                                            for the ''as a service"
                                            model to offer consumers
                                            better value than offered
                                            by the car ownership

Technology            Information           The availability of
Change                  Ubiquity            transport data as "open
                                            data" has already
                                            delivered significant
                                            value, estimated at 58
                                            million pounds in London
                                            alone. Internet of Things
                                            may accelerate the growth
                                            of the data pool that can
                                            be exploited by MaaS.

                       Automation           Autonomous vehicles are
                                            expected to become
                                            increasingly common. Such
                                            vehicles could be
                                            integrated into MaaS and
                                            offered to customers as a

                   Appetite of Early        Driven by a desire to be
                        Adopters            first to market and
                                            facilitated by enhanced
                                            connectivity and lower
                                            barriers to access,
                                            platform developers are
                                            offering their products to
                                            market at beta and
                                            pre-beta stages. This is
                                            fueling early adoption of
                                            new services by specific
                                            customer segments and this
                                            can support the fast
                                            growth of new MaaS value

Mobility             Demand for car         While vehicle ownership is
Consumption            ownership            still dominant, attitudes
                                            to car ownership are
                                            shifting. In the UK, this
                                            is particularly pronounced
                                            amongst younger people,
                                            where the percentage of
                                            under 20s owning a driving
                                            license has decreased by
                                            40% since 1995.

                       Congestion           In the UK, road traffic is
                         Crunch             forecast to grow between
                                            19% and 55% by 2040 from a
                                            2010 base. Population
                                            growth may exacerbate
                                            congestion in the future.

                      Urbanization          An increasing proportion
                                            of the global population
                                            is living in urban
                                            areas-currently estimated
                                            at 53% of the global
                                            population. MaaS
                                            capabilities in the UK
                                            could be exported
                                            internationally to support
                                            these urban mobility

Source: Catapult Transit Systems (
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Author:Gould, Lawrence S.
Publication:Automotive Design & Production
Date:Dec 1, 2017
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