An Introduction to MaaS

  • Author: Josh Albertson and Heidi Guenin
  • Date: March 16, 2023

What is MaaS?

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is an integrated mobility concept in which travelers can access a variety of transportation modes via a single digital interface. While there are several different features that may be provided on the platform, core features generally include trip planning, trip booking, and fare payment. Fare payment options may include pay-as-you-go services or travel subscriptions.

A newer transportation concept, MaaS has only gained widespread attention since 2014, and has received ample investment since that time. It is projected to play a significant role within the transit sector in coming years, both within the United States and abroad.

Why is MaaS important?

The primary goal of MaaS is to transform complex, multi-mode route planning, booking, and payment processes into an effortless traveler experience. Ultimately, MaaS aims to make riding public transportation easier in order to replace private vehicle trips with more sustainable and accessible solutions.  

MaaS can play an important role in a variety of geographic contexts. Unlike many public transportation tools which are more relevant for urban contexts, MaaS platforms can help travelers in suburban and rural contexts without access to private vehicles as well.

What are some related concepts?

One-Call/One-Click: One-Call/One-Click systems enable users to easily access trip information via one phone number or link. Generally, one-call/one-click systems provide a foundation on which a MaaS platform can be built. MaaS goes one step beyond one-call/one-click systems to provide one platform for hosting transportation option information in a way that is easy, or even automatic, for the transportation provider, while providing access to wider information, schedules, reservations, and payment (or payment bundles). 

Public Transit Data: MaaS platforms are not just a front-end app, but an entire system for capturing public data and using it to make suggestions to travellers across modes.General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), GTFS-flex , and General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS) data are all critical for MaaS platforms to reflect the most accurate information for travelers. MaaS providers have a vested interest in making sure this data is always up-to-date and correct.

Where has MaaS been implemented?

Over the past 5-10 years, transit agencies around the world have worked to take MaaS from concept to reality. While still not ubiquitous, there are several examples of MaaS services from which to draw inspiration and lessons. A number of these case studies are included within the MaaS resource center.

Some case studies may be more relevant to your interests than others. For example, rural transit agencies may benefit from reviewing the MaaS platforms that San Joaquin, California and Lake County, Oregon have implemented. Large urban agencies may find value in examples such as Vienna, Helsinki, Portland, or Columbus. If you are interested in platforms that serve the general population, many of the cases may be of interest to you. If you are interested in an app that suits the needs of tourists specifically, the case study of Izu, Japan may be of relevance to you.

See the chart below to identify which case studies are most relevant to your interests.

MaaS Platform Location Geographic Context Target Users Public Agency Role 
PivotColumbus, OhioUrban/SuburbanGeneral PopulationMaaS Partner
WhimHelsinki, FinlandUrban/SuburbanGeneral PopulationMaaS Enabler
NEOrideOhio, Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, and West Virginia, USRural, Urban, SuburbanGeneral PopulationMaaS Promoter
RidesheetLake County, OregonRuralTravelers without vehiclesMaaS Promoter
TrimetPortland, OregonUrban/SuburbanGeneral PopulationMaaS Promoter
Go! VermontVermont, USRural, Urban, SuburbanGeneral PopulationMaaS Promoter
WienMobilVienna, AustriaUrban/SuburbanGeneral PopulationMaaS Enabler
Vamos MobilitySan Joaquin, CaliforniaRural, SuburbanRural travelersMaaS Promoter
 Izuku Izu, Japan Rural Tourists MaaS Enabler

Additional Resources  

In addition to the resources available through the MaaS resource center, the following pages are helpful for understanding MaaS and its applications throughout the world.

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