What Is Mobility-as-a-Service?

Transportation problems, including congestion and road safety, have been increasing year over year across America. This makes the quest for efficient, sustainable transportation solutions more pressing than ever. Enter Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). It's a transformative concept, invented in Finland in 2013 and based on the Finnish Ministry's Strategy for Intelligent Transport, that's poised to revolutionize how we navigate our cities.

MaaS represents a paradigm shift, seamlessly integrating diverse transportation options — from public transit to ride-sharing and beyond — into a single, user-centric platform. This empowers employees, students, or residents to plan, book, and pay for their journeys through a unified interface. The end result? MaaS can help to alleviate congestion, reduce carbon emissions, boost business bottom lines and profit, and enhance overall mobility efficiency for every American.

So What is MaaS, Exactly?

Today's transportation infrastructure has numerous problems across the board, such as poor last-mile connections in some areas or full transit deserts in others. But one of the biggest problems people face, according to the experts at the Transport Futures Institute, is a lack of integration between different forms of transportation.

"Every trip you make has more than one mode of travel: walking at the beginning and end, and then some combination of walking, cycling or traveling by bus, train, or car," they explain. And there's often a disconnect between these options, leading to:

MaaS solves that by combining various forms of transportation services into a single, accessible platform. A MaaS platform gives students, commuters, and residents seamless, on-demand access to different modes of transportation, such as public transit, ride-sharing, bike-sharing, car-sharing, and even micro-mobility options like scooters or electric bikes.

Research shows that widespread adoption of MaaS can optimize transportation efficiency and address "environmental, social, economic, cultural and demographic" concerns, such as reducing congestion, lowering carbon emissions, and improving overall mobility.

Why Does Mobility Matter?

While the terms are often used interchangeably, mobility is not transportation; it embodies the fundamental freedom of movement that underpins our daily lives.

Transportation focuses on the simple act of moving people from one place to another.

Mobility encompasses the broader concept of accessibility, inclusivity, and opportunity, and how easy it is for people to access transportation options in their area.

Limited mobility equates to restricted access to essential services, employment opportunities, and social interactions, exacerbating inequality and social justice problems within a community. When we prioritize mobility over transportation alone, we shift our focus towards creating inclusive systems that cater to the diverse needs of those with disabilities, employees, students, senior citizens — and the entire population, regardless of their socioeconomic status or physical abilities.

How Can MaaS Help?    

The Southern California Association of Governments found that MaaS helps "promote universal basic mobility, encourage mode shift, and foster sustainable travel choices." And these benefits apply to communities across the U.S., not just on the West Coast.

Efficiency and Flexibility for Riders

MaaS offers three immediate benefits for students, employees, and other commuters:

  • Integration and seamless journey planning: Many people struggle to schedule their commute or travel around different mass transit options. The headache of planning and brainstorming trips is a pervasive issue in cities. MaaS increases transit access by combining available modes of transportation into a single platform, giving people a wider range of choices for their journeys and enabling them to select (in real time!) the most convenient and efficient mode of transport for each leg of a trip.
  • Flexible payment and ticketing: MaaS platforms typically offer integrated payment systems, so people are not juggling between different public transit ticketing options, or switching between different apps to buy and track ride-sharing or e-bike rentals.  
  • Optimized routing and navigation: MaaS utilizes data analytics to optimize routing and navigation and help shorten total travel time. For instance, SHARE Mobility's tech-driven solution includes virtual bus stops and dynamically adjusted routes based on real-time traffic conditions, public transit schedules, and user preferences.

A Resource for Companies, Schools, and Municipalities

It's clear that MaaS can solve the many concerns facing American businesses, schools, municipalities, and other organizations.

With a more flexible and accessible transportation option, it enhances mobility for employees, students, and residents, and reduces commute-related stress. In fact, studies have found that poor mobility/transportation options and long commute times are "significantly associated with depression, anxiety, and fatigue," which then affects travelers' mental health, productivity, and engagement.

When companies, schools, and communities invest in MaaS, they also:

  • Reduce transportation costs, as when MaaS is offered by companies as an employee benefit
  • Streamline logistics and operations, as when schools use MaaS to coordinate student transportation for field trips, extracurricular activities, and other events
  • Improve and optimize urban planning and development, helping to create more livable, accessible, and sustainable communities that cater to the mobility needs of residents and visitors alike

Supporting Sustainability for the Planet

Approximately 75% of the transportation sector's carbon emissions are due to traditional road transit — far more than even shipping or aviation.

MaaS can make a profound difference because it encourages the use of more eco-conscious forms of transportation, including ride-sharing, public transit, and cycling. "Developing Mobility-as-a-Service platforms...improves efficiency and quality for travelers [and] encourages more people to choose green and low-carbon mobility modes," reports the World Resource Institute.

The institute cites a recent case study in Beijing, a city that has long struggled with air quality and transportation-related air pollution. Since introducing a pilot MaaS program in 2019, more than 73% of daily trips in the city now include "green transport, including walking, biking, and public transit."

By investing in MaaS and reducing a community's reliance on single-occupancy vehicles, any organization can help contribute to environmental conservation efforts and mitigate the impact of residents', students', and employees' transportation-related carbon emissions.

MaaS-sive Benefits for Everyone

Schools, businesses, and community leaders across America are investing in MaaS thanks to growing demand from a wide range of commuter demographics (and that demand is especially strong among students). Be a part of this nationwide innovation with SHARE Mobility's real-time solutions for MaaS. With our smart, data-driven route and program management, rider booking and ticketing features, and other features, you can help reduce commuting time and commuter stress, address the biggest transportation issues facing your community, and be a part of a global sustainability effort. Get started today: reach out to our team online or by dialing 833-742-7333.

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