In recent years, the way we move around our cities has undergone a profound transformation. The traditional model of owning a private car is being challenged by a new paradigm known as Mobility as a Service (MaaS).
Today we'll delve into the world of MaaS apps, exploring:
- The evolution of MaaS
- The role of MaaS in the cities of the future
- Opportunities that MaaS brings to startup founders
- The impact of autonomous vehicles on the MaaS industry
- List of the top 10 Mobility as a Service companies
- How to build a MaaS app of your own
Let’s start from scratch and answer the fundamental question.
What is MaaS?
MaaS stands for Mobility as a Service and it’s a concept that aims to transform the way people use and access transportation by integrating its various modes into a single service. Rather than relying on individual modes like private cars, MaaS offers a comprehensive and interconnected system that combines public transportation, car-sharing services, bike-sharing programs, and more.
The main goal of MaaS is to provide people with seamless and convenient travel options tailored to their needs. It involves a digital platform or mobile app that allows users to plan, book, and pay for different modes of transportation using a single interface.
For example, a user could plan a trip from their home to their workplace and seamlessly switch between a bus, a train, and a shared bike, all through the MaaS platform.
The evolution of mobility as a service
The evolution of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) can be traced through several stages of development and conceptualization. Here is a general overview of the key 8 phases in the evolution of MaaS:
- Early pilots and demonstrations
- Growth of mobility platforms
- Integration of services
- Public-private collaborations
- Expansion of MaaS ecosystems
- Policy and regulatory considerations
- International adoption and scaling
Let’s describe them each by each.
The concept of MaaS emerged as a response to the growing challenges of urban transportation, including congestion, pollution, and the limitations of traditional transportation systems. The idea gained traction in the early 2010s as advancements in technology and the rise of the sharing economy created new possibilities for integrated mobility solutions.
Early pilots and demonstrations
In the early stages, MaaS concepts were tested through small-scale pilot projects and demonstrations. These initiatives aimed to explore the feasibility and user acceptance of integrated mobility services. Pilot programs were often focused on specific regions or cities, combining public and private transportation options into a single platform.
Growth of mobility platforms
As technology advanced and smartphone adoption increased, mobility platforms started to gain prominence. These platforms served as the backbone of MaaS, offering users a centralized digital interface for planning, booking, and paying for various transportation services. Companies like Whim in Finland and Moovel in Germany were early pioneers in developing mobility platforms.
Read more: Learn how our team helped in optimizing logistics operations cost with hybrid cloud architecture.
Integration of services
With the growing popularity of mobility platforms, the focus shifted towards integrating different transportation services into a seamless ecosystem. Initially, this involved incorporating public transportation, ride-sharing, and bike-sharing services. However, the concept expanded to include additional modes such as car-sharing, scooter-sharing, and even micromobility options like e-bikes.
Recognizing the potential of MaaS to address urban transportation challenges, many public transportation agencies and local governments started collaborating with private companies to develop and implement MaaS solutions. These partnerships aimed to leverage public infrastructure and data to provide enhanced mobility options to users.
Expansion of MaaS ecosystems
MaaS ecosystems continued to expand, incorporating a broader range of transportation options. This included partnerships with taxi companies, car rental services, and even intercity transportation providers. The goal was to provide users with a comprehensive range of mobility choices, allowing them to plan and execute door-to-door journeys using a single app.
Policy and regulatory considerations
As MaaS gained momentum, policymakers and regulators recognized the need to adapt existing transportation regulations to accommodate these new services. Governments began exploring frameworks to ensure fair competition, data privacy, and passenger safety within the evolving MaaS landscape. Policymakers also sought to align MaaS initiatives with sustainability goals and urban planning strategies.
International adoption and scaling
MaaS concepts and initiatives began to expand beyond their original pilot locations, with several countries and cities around the world adopting MaaS as a part of their transportation strategies. Governments and private companies collaborated to scale up MaaS operations, enabling users to access integrated mobility services in multiple regions.
The cities of the future and the role of MaaS in them
Cities of the future are envisioned to be smarter, more sustainable, and better connected. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is expected to play a significant role in shaping and enhancing these cities in the following ways:
- Seamless integration of transportation
- Reduced reliance on private car ownership
- Improved access to mobility
- Data-driven planning and optimization
- Multi-modal connectivity
- Reduced environmental impact
Seamless integration of transportation
The whole MaaS concept aims to provide a seamless and integrated transportation experience by combining various modes of transport into a single platform. In cities of the future, MaaS can enable travellers to plan, book, and pay for their entire journey using a single app, making the whole journey easier and more pleasant.
Reduced reliance on private car ownership
One of the primary goals of MaaS is to reduce the dependence on private car ownership. In future cities, it can promote a shift towards more sustainable modes of transport, such as public transit, ride-sharing, and micro-mobility options like bikes and scooters.
By offering a convenient and attractive alternative to owning a car, MaaS can help alleviate traffic congestion, reduce emissions, and free up valuable urban space currently used for parking.
Improved access to mobility
Mobility as a Service also has the potential to improve accessibility to transportation services, particularly for underserved communities and people with limited mobility options.
By integrating public transportation with on-demand services, the technology can provide flexible and tailored mobility solutions for individuals who may face challenges in accessing traditional transit systems. This inclusivity can enhance overall mobility and enable more equitable transportation options for all residents.
Data-driven planning and optimization
MaaS generates vast amounts of data regarding travel patterns, user preferences, and transportation demand. Cities of the future can leverage this data to inform urban planning, optimize transportation networks, and develop sustainable mobility strategies.
By analyzing real-time data from MaaS platforms, city authorities can identify areas with high demand for specific services, optimize routes, and make data-driven decisions to enhance efficiency and meet the evolving needs of the population.
Future cities are likely to have diverse transportation options, and MaaS can act as a connector between these various modes. MaaS platforms can seamlessly integrate public transit, shared mobility services, and emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles. This integration can simplify intermodal transfers, promote multi-modal journeys, and provide travellers with a range of options tailored to their preferences and needs.
Reduced impact on environment
MaaS can contribute to the sustainability goals of future cities by promoting the use of low-emission transportation options and reducing miles travelled by vehicle.
Thanks to encouraging shared mobility and providing real-time information on public transportation options, MaaS can help reduce carbon emissions, air pollution, and the negative impact of transportation on the environment.
What opportunities MaaS brings to startup founders
Mobility as a Service presents several opportunities for startup founders in the transportation and mobility sector.
Innovation and disruption
MaaS is a relatively new, still evolving concept, presenting ample opportunities for startup founders to bring innovative and disruptive ideas to the market. By developing novel approaches to integrating and delivering transportation services, startups can challenge traditional models and introduce new solutions that improve the mobility experience for users.
The whole concept relies heavily on technology, particularly mobile apps, data analytics, and platform development. Startups can capitalize on this by offering technological solutions tailored for MaaS. This could involve developing user-friendly mobile applications, advanced routing algorithms, data analytics platforms, or payment systems that cater specifically to MaaS requirements.
MaaS platforms serve as the foundation for delivering integrated mobility services. Startup founders can focus on building scalable and robust MaaS platforms that enable users to seamlessly access and manage different modes of transportation. This could involve creating user interfaces, API integrations with transportation providers, and developing backend systems that handle bookings, payments, and data management.
Data analytics and insights
MaaS generates vast amounts of data, including user preferences, travel patterns, and real-time information on transportation services. Startups can leverage this data to provide valuable insights to transportation operators, urban planners, and policymakers. By developing data analytics tools and services, startups can help optimize transportation networks, improve operational efficiency, and enhance the overall planning and decision-making process.
MaaS often focuses on providing seamless connectivity between different modes of transportation, including the challenging last-mile segment. Startups can explore opportunities to develop innovative last-mile solutions, such as electric scooter-sharing services, bike-sharing programs, or micro-transit options, to bridge the gap between public transit and final destinations. These solutions can enhance the convenience and accessibility of MaaS for users.
Partnerships and integrations
MaaS requires collaboration between various stakeholders, including public transportation agencies, private companies, and mobility service providers. Startups can play a role in forming partnerships and integrations between different players in the transportation ecosystem. By creating alliances with transit agencies, ride-sharing companies, or bike-sharing operators, startups can position themselves as key enablers of MaaS and facilitate the seamless integration of services.
Sustainability and electrification
Sustainability is a critical aspect of MaaS, and startups that focus on sustainable transportation solutions can find opportunities within the MaaS ecosystem. This could involve developing electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, providing EV fleet management services, or creating platforms that promote green mobility options. By aligning their offerings with the environmental goals of MaaS, startups can contribute to the sustainability of future transportation systems.
Impact of autonomous vehicles
Autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving or driverless cars, have a huge potential to bring significant positive changes both in the social and economic sphere. This technology can not only increase our safety thanks to reduced risk of car accidents, but also boost growth of many businesses, especially from the automotive software development sector, and logistics sector.
But which aspects of business and our lives can be affected by self-driving cars?
Let’s take a closer look.
As mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, one of the main promises of autonomous vehicles is to improve safety on the roads. By removing the potential risk of human error, which is responsible for the majority of accidents, driverless cars can significantly reduce accidents with their tragic consequences.
It is because these cars can react faster, make more precise decisions, and have a 360-degree view of their surroundings, thereby enhancing road safety.
Mobility and accessibility
Autonomous cars can increase mobility and accessibility for people, especially excluded groups. The technology is able to provide transportation solutions for the elderly or disabled individuals, and those who are unable to drive.
Autonomous ride-sharing services can also improve access to transportation in areas with limited public transit options, reducing transportation barriers and enhancing overall mobility.
Another great thing that MaaS brings to the table is their ability to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion. These cars can communicate with each other and with traffic infrastructure, enabling coordinated movement, efficient lane utilization, and reduced stop-and-go traffic.
All of this can lead to smoother traffic flow, reduced travel times, and less congestion on the roads.
Impact on environment
As self-driving cars can be programmed to optimize routes, reduce fuel consumption, and minimize emissions, they are much more environmentally friendly.
What’s more, the rise of autonomous electric vehicles (EVs) can further contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, particularly if the electricity powering these vehicles comes from renewable sources.
Urban planning and infrastructure
The introduction of driverless cars may also impact urban planning and infrastructure requirements. As autonomous car sharing becomes more prevalent, the need for parking spaces may decrease, allowing for the repurposing of land.
Cities may also need to adapt infrastructure to support these cars, such as implementing smart traffic management systems and dedicated lanes.
Employment and workforce
The widespread adoption of autonomous cars may have implications for employment in the transportation industry. While it may lead to job displacement for some professions, such as truck or taxi drivers, new opportunities may emerge in areas such as vehicle maintenance, software development, GIS-powered logistics platforms, and transportation operations.
Business and economic opportunities
The whole concept of providing mobility as a service comes with a lot of new business opportunities for startups and established companies alike. The development of the technology, sensors, software, and infrastructure can create a whole ecosystem of companies and industries focused on autonomous transportation. This includes ride-sharing platforms, mapping and navigation services, logistics operations, cybersecurity solutions, and vehicle manufacturing.
Ethical and legal considerations
The introduction of self-driving cars, besides its positive impact on business and society, raises important ethical and legal questions. These can include:
- determining responsibility in the event of (still possible) accidents,
- addressing cybersecurity concerns,
- establishing regulations and standards,
- and ensuring the ethical decision-making capabilities of autonomous systems.
All of these need to be addressed to ensure the safe and responsible deployment of autonomous vehicles.
Top 10 MaaS startups as of 2023
As the concept of MaaS seems to be quite new, there are already companies successfully developing this idea. Let’s take a closer look at them and see what their purposes and goals are and how they turn this idea into a reality.
Whim is a public transportation app designed to help its users keep track of routes, manage their tickets, or book transit services.
Through its subscription-based integrated mobility app, Whim, offers its users access to a variety of transportation options including:
- rental cars,
- public transport,
- and bikeshare.
On top of that, the app learns users’ preferences and syncs with their calendars to intelligently suggest ways to get to an event.
Moovit is a leading MaaS solutions provider. Their iOS, Android, and web apps guide users in getting around town effectively, using various modes of transport. It enables people to manage payments, provides data analytics, live transit, trip planning, and AI-powered congestion management solutions.
RideCo is a provider of micro-transit management services. They offer a platform for micro-transit and fleet operators to launch, manage, and stimulate their on-demand shared transit services.
They also offer mobile applications for users and back-office operations management solutions for fleet operators and managers.
Trafi is a MaaS solution provider focused on transit agencies. Their custom-branded consumer-facing mobile app enables passengers to plan and book multi-modal transit tickets by combining various mobility options like taxis, rentals, or public transit.
Trafi also offers a back-office management platform to operators covering aspects such as operations management, route planning, passenger management, and payments management.
This MaaS, run by Deutsche Bahn, integrates all means of transport:
- city trains
- long-distance buses
- rental cars
- and planes
and connects them via a single platform. Despite the huge number of possible combinations, Qixxit shows all travel possibilities, allows users to compare them and book the most appropriate one.
Also, with more than 21 service providers on board, the app plans routes according to user needs.
Moovel is a company that offers a mobile ticketing platform for transit systems. It enables its users to search, book, and pay for rides with a single app. Now they offer the book and pay in a single experience for such companies as car2go, mytaxi, and Deutsche Bahn.
When it comes to public transportation, mobile payments via Moovel are available in Stuttgart and Hamburg.
Beeline is Singapore's first marketplace for crowdsourced bus services. The whole platform is led by government agencies, Infocomm Development Authority and Land Transport Authority in partnership with transportation operators, academia, and the private sector.
With Beeline, users can book a seat on buses listed by private bus operators and also track their location. What’s more, they can suggest new routes since these are activated by community demand.
The SMILE app was initiated by Wiener Stadtwerke in cooperation with Wiener Linien (Vienna’s public transport provider), Austrian Federal Railways, and private carsharing, taxi, and bikesharing service providers.
The idea behind SMILE is to offer a wide range of transportation options with the following functions:
- and billing
Thanks to a standardized interface, all SMILE’s partners are able to link their systems via specific adaptors to provide all their data, including the ticketing.
Bridj is an on-demand commuter shuttle service with a mobile app that allows passengers to commute between home and work during the working hours.
By using a fleet of flexible vehicles, the platform optimizes pick-ups, drop-offs, and routing based on demand, meaning a 40–60 % more efficient trip than traditional transit.
This Canadian MaaS app offered by some of Quebec's municipal transport authorities includes bikesharing by BIXI and carsharing provided by Communauto.
For example, a user can save on the regular price of a public transport pass and bikesharing by subscribing to the BIXI-AUTO-BUS package.
How to build a MaaS app of your own in X steps
Developing your own software isn’t a piece of cake, and it’s no different when it comes to creating MaaS apps or any other location-based services. There’s a lot to think and remember about, starting from the research, going through the execution phase to project management, etc. That’s why we decided to map the whole process of creating Mobile as a Service app in a few steps to give you an overall look at this process.
Step 1. Define your MaaS concept
Identify the target market and user needs
Determine the specific market segment or audience you want to serve with your MaaS app. This could be commuters, tourists, students, or a specific geographic area.
Also, consider the transportation challenges faced by your target market, such as congestion, lack of connectivity, or limited transportation options.
Research user needs and pain points
Conduct market and competitors research as well as surveys to understand the needs, preferences, and pain points of your target audience when it comes to transportation. Identify common problems they encounter, such as difficulty planning routes, accessing multiple modes of transport, or making seamless payments.
Determine the scope of services
Decide which transportation modes you want to integrate into your app, such as public transit, ride-sharing, bike-sharing, scooter-sharing, or other options. Also, think of whether you want to focus on a specific mode of transport or provide a multimodal solution that combines different modes for a journey.
Define key features
Find out what your MaaS app will mostly focus on. These can be improving convenience, reducing traffic congestion, or promoting sustainable transportation options.
Then, identify the features and functionalities that will provide value to users, such as trip planning and optimization, real-time updates, booking, payment, and multimodal journey planning.
Step 2. Analyze competitors and existing solutions
Research existing MaaS apps and platforms in your target market or in other regions to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and gaps.
Identify areas where you can differentiate your app by offering unique features, better user experience, or improved integration with local transportation providers
Step 3. Consider partnerships and integrations
Explore partnerships with transportation service providers, such as public transit agencies, ride-sharing companies, or bike-sharing operators, to access their data, APIs, and services.
Evaluate technology providers or platforms that offer solutions for data integration, routing algorithms, payment systems, or user interfaces.
Step 4. Design user experience (UX) and user interface (UI)
Create user personas
Develop profiles representing different types of users who will use your app. Understand their goals, behaviors, and pain points to inform the app's design.
Design the UX
Plan the flow of the app, ensuring a seamless and intuitive user experience across different transportation modes.
Develop the UI
Create visually appealing and user-friendly interfaces that align with your brand and make it easy for users to navigate through the app.
Step 5. Develop the MVP of your app
To kick off your MVP development process, you should hire dev teams specialised in the following:
Build the server infrastructure and database systems that will handle user authentication, data storage, and API integrations with transportation service providers.
Develop the app's user interface and implement the planned features using suitable programming languages and frameworks for different platforms (iOS, Android, web).
Connect your app to the APIs of transportation service providers to retrieve data such as routes, custom digital maps, schedules, availability, pricing, and real-time updates.
Integrate a secure and convenient payment system that allows users to make transactions for booking transportation services within the app.
Step 6. Quality assurance
Conduct thorough testing of the app to ensure functionality, usability, performance, and compatibility. This is the best moment to spot any bottlenecks and optimize your app’s performance before launch.
Also, don’t forget about functional, UI, and user acceptance testing to identify and address any bugs or issues. After all the tests, gather feedback from beta testers or early users to further refine and improve the app.
Building a MaaS app with RST Software as a trusted tech partner
Building a MaaS app is a complex and challenging process. It requires not only a good business research and solid funding but also, what’s more important, extensive techological know-how.
To conquer mobility as a service market, your app has to provide the best possible user experience and allow its users to fully benefit from its features. In other way, you’ll lose users to the competition.
Luckily, our team of developers is highly skilled and experienced in building such location-based apps. So, if you’re wondering about building one, reach out to us. We are eager to help!