Webinar highlights: how MaaS can create smarter, more liveable cities

Following our successful webinar in partnership with moovel group (becomes REACH NOW) earlier in 2019, Thomas Friderich, Head of Business Development at moovel group, answers some of the most important questions that were posed by the audience during the live Q&A session.

Webinar highlights: is MaaS creating smarter, more liveable cities?

What is the minimum size of city that could support MaaS?

The limiting factor for Mobility-as-a-Service isn’t the size of the city, but rather the number of mobility options that are there. Of course, you will find the most innovative mobility service providers in cities like Berlin, London or Paris, but there are also mid-sized cities like Karlsruhe (300,000 citizens), which has the highest rate of shared cars in Germany, and together with strong public transport and a sophisticated bike-sharing scheme offers an excellent base for MaaS services.

What are the essential steps a city or public authority should take in order to plan for MaaS from a planning/policy perspective?

Firstly, the city has to decide whether it wants to become a MaaS operator or whether it simply wants to take a regulating role and let private companies take the role of a provider.
In any case, the city should set the framework for software and mobility service providers to allow them to be part of the MaaS system (e.g. data security).

The city should also consider infrastructure-related measures like mobility hubs to enable a smooth interchange between modes.

Have you looked into urban mobility solutions that aren’t app-based? How important do you think apps are to the overall solution to mobility issues?

We have analysed a number of card-based systems to allow access to different modes. There are a number of challenges on the technology side that need to be overcome to make this happen, and it’s also difficult to maintain the system long term. An app is much easier to adapt to new interfaces. The biggest plus of an app-based solution is the location-based services that one can offer (e.g. nearest sharing vehicle, trip search for current location etc.).

Is there scope for a German-wide, or even Europe-wide, MaaS platform? User experience is still inconvenient if people need one app per city.

We like the idea of a German-wide MaaS platform and we support the initiative for a national platform for mobility by the German government. Borders should certainly not be the limit for our services.

Would you like to see all public and private companies required to share their live data and ticketing platforms with MaaS providers?

Yes, we would like to see open data across all providers, sharing static and real-time information as well as tariffs and ticketing information. Enforcing this through public governance will also ensure that there is no monopoly for a single MaaS platform, but rather equal chances for everybody.

MaaS can provide a one-screen user experience for the customer to plan and make trips, but what happens when things go wrong with one leg of their journey? Who do they complain to?

A MaaS provider is not a travel agency and is not responsible for the entire journey. It cannot and should not be made liable for failed connections or incidents on one specific leg. Each mobility service provider remains responsible for its service level. The MaaS platform might assist travellers in getting refunds from the individual providers, but what is much more important is to give assistance during a trip for the customer to use an alternative if there is disruption with a provider (e.g. book a taxi or shared car if there is a tram accident).

Will multimodal MaaS (e.g. as seen with MaaS Global) be severely threatened by “uni-modal” MaaS (e.g. from robotaxi companies emerging in the next five to 10 years)?

We strongly believe that the system will dramatically change once services with autonomous vehicles are available and MaaS will come to its full potential. At the same time, we do not expect one mode to dominate. We expect a mix of highly efficient mass transit, shared on-demand services and green alternatives, like bike-sharing.