Jointly hosted by the ITS Observatory and SPICE projects, this webinar provided a brief overview of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) for parties interested in starting or joining a MaaS scheme, and included a demonstration of how to use the ITS Observatory interactive information marketplace.

Funded by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 program, the two-year SPICE project (Smart Procurement for Better Transport) aims to help public authorities use smart procurement in order to facilitate a quick adoption of innovative and sustainable transport solutions. SPICE’s objective of letting public authorities share their experience with the procurement of new transport solutions – including MaaS – intersects naturally with the goals of the ITS Observatory, as participants heard during the course of the Webinar.

Sami Sahala, Intelligent Transport Systems Advisor for the City of Helsinki, addressed the challenges faced by public authorities at the city or regional level when attempting to develop MaaS solutions: ‘can I just buy one?’

‘Mobility as a Service was initially never defined in detail, so it can be almost anything… or something else’ Sami said. ‘Originally it was a vision, a change of mindset, a new culture of having the customer at the centre’.

Introducing MaaS in a city environment requires a whole new value chain involving not only public transport authorities, but also actors such as service providers or payment management companies. But where should investments be made – and what role in this value chain should public authorities play themselves? Should cities view MaaS as a mobility service, as an extension of the public transport network, or as a service aggregator for a range of private and public transportation providers?

Some cities integrate carsharing solutions on their public transport cards’, explains Sami Sahala, ‘but does it scale? Can cities make a business out of mobility services? There is no one way forward but many. We need to think of innovative procurement models to ensure that chosen solutions favour the user and do not create monopolies.

To answer these questions, Jenni Eckhardt from VTT Technical Research offered a look at different business models for MaaS: a commercial model where the operator acts as a reseller or integrator, the national or local public transport operator model, and public-private partnerships. The integrator model, in particular, offers MaaS alongside other services, while public-private partnerships may be more suited to the needs of rural regions.

Koenraad Verduyn, Solution Management Director at PTV Group, outlined a ‘Smart city of the future’ built on three key elements: the digital revolution, the change of values with regard to private car ownership, and new forms of mobility including e-hailing, intermodality ridesharing.

Various MaaS ecosystems can be envisioned. ‘Winner-takes-all’ optimizes profit instead of the use of available transport systems, while leaving the issue to the market can only work if players are large enough to tackle the issue. However, a disaggregated model based on APIs and open platforms allows small players to join the sector and provide the same level of service as large companies.

MaaS is the only system that fully allows multimodal transport. There is no need to wait for autonomous vehicles, and it allows the market to be at play while avoiding market lock-in by monopolistic players’, Koenraad explained.

In an open poll, a majority of webinar participants believed that the disaggregated model will prevail.

Presentations from the webinar are available in the SPICE Library here.