MaaS Resource Center – Governance Models

MaaS Resource Center

Maas Governance Models

Governance, or the policies that enable structure the effort and guide the organizations that will lead and support the effort, is crucial to any MaaS system. Governance ultimately deals with how the MaaS project will be enabled to thrive. All actors should be united in the “why” and their role within it, so that all stakeholders are motivated to move forward—even as what each will “get” from the effort will be different. Göran Smith, Senior Researcher at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, published a PhD thesis in 2020 that details emerging ideas in the area of MaaS governance.  

Smith breaks MaaS governance down into three core concepts that work together in a sequence: governance principles, development scenarios, and governance pathways. The governance pathways concept culminates with four models for the role the public sector could play in a MaaS initiative.

Understanding the governance aspect can help move MaaS initiative design, particularly the “Planning for Actions & Roles” component, to a more intentional and deeper level—contributing to overall initiative stability and effectiveness.  

Governance Principles

The first principle deals with setting a long-term vision, establishing a clear and compelling direction that the MaaS initiative can move toward. Smith points out that the vision should clearly connect with other mobility policy objectives, those not necessarily directly tied to MaaS, so that the MaaS vision fits in with the broader picture of how mobility should progress over the years in a given area. During the process of addressing the “Understanding Perspectives & Goals” component of MaaS initiative design, each public sector entity will share their key goals. This process will reveal the mobility policy objectives that should be considered in connection with the MaaS initiative. Smith stresses the importance of having a shared vision of where the MaaS effort will head and how it will contribute to the future mobility system in part so that all the actors involved will prioritize the effort—even potentially to the extent of attracting private investment.

The second principal deals with establishing an agenda for action in the short and medium term—moving into project planning. During the process of addressing the “Planning for Actions & Roles” component of MaaS initiative design, this type of agenda will become clarified. Smith points out that often MaaS initiatives should not focus only on what to enable, but also what to inhibit in order to reach the vision more effectively. He points out, for example, that MaaS efforts with the goal of increasing ridership on public transit and other shared use modes should not only enable such options but also inhibit private car usage, potentially through tactics such as making car parking more difficult or expensive and setting limits on cars being allowed in certain areas at certain times. In this case, it is possible that transit ridership cannot be increased significantly through transit-specific tactics alone; the institutions and cultural attachment to the private car could perhaps nullify transit gains if no private car-specific action is taken.


The third principle deals with experimentation. It is still early in the MaaS development process internationally. It is not yet clear which types of projects lead to the best results, depending on context, and MaaS depends on public uptake—which is impossible to predict with complete certainty. Further, there are a number of variables on MaaS projects that have the potential to combine in unique ways that cannot be foreseen. Smith suggests combining the project variables and staying open to range of results that may occur—intentionally experimenting. He points out that internal conditions within public sector entities rarely favor risk taking, and without risk taking, the uncertainty of MaaS project results can lead to projects that are never really given a chance to grow.  

Development Scenarios

Smith outlines three possible MaaS governance development scenarios, representing a spectrum of possibilities. On one side of the spectrum, the private sector leads the effort (i.e., the market-driven scenario), while on the other side, the public sector leads the effort (i.e., the public-controlled scenario). The spectrum allows for efforts that are somewhere in-between with leadership shared more or less equally (i.e., the public-private scenario). All MaaS efforts can be described as belonging somewhere along this spectrum, depending on the combination of public and private efforts. 

Governance Pathways and Models

Smith identifies potential MaaS governance pathways in the matrix below. On the x-axis, different phases in the evolution of a MaaS effort are shown—from the early development stage through diffusion to use by the public. On the y-axis, the public sector’s role as promoter, partner, enabler, or laissez-faire are shown. Where the x and y axes meet, typical public sector activities are described depending on the evolution phase. 


The “MaaS promoter” role is closely linked to the “public-controlled” development scenario. During the development phase, the public organization “takes the lead in transforming MaaS visions and ideas into operational services.” During the diffusion phase, the public organization “advertises MaaS services,” and during the use phase it “integrates mobility service data and tickets, and operates MaaS services.”

The “MaaS partner” role is closely linked to the “public-private” development scenario. During the development phase, the public organization “participates in knowledge sharing forums and in MaaS experiments.” During the diffusion phase, the public organization “legitimizes MaaS services, supports marketing, and shares user insights and data,” and during the use phase it “mediates data and tickets from mobility service providers to MaaS services.”

The “MaaS enabler” and “laissez-faire” roles are closely linked to the “market-driven” development scenario. During the development phase, the MaaS enabler public organization “funds MaaS-related experimentation and research.” During the diffusion phase, the public organization “promotes the diffusion of mobility services and/or digital interfaces, and during the use phase it “feeds data and tickets for its own mobility services into MaaS service.” Across all the development phases, the laissez-faire public organization “monitors MaaS development processes while continuing business as usual.”

While agency staff may think they are firmly in the “public-controlled” development scenario, for instance, once they look more closely at the typical activities they would lead, they may come to the conclusion that being a MaaS promoter involves more than they can take on. Conversely, agency staff anticipating the MaaS enabler role, which mainly involves creating incentives and conducive conditions for the private sector, may discover that the activities of the MaaS partner are reasonable to handle, and therefore, strengthen their role by becoming more hands-on.

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