MaaS: the Quiet Revolution in Transport (Part 1)

Behind the scenes, there’s a quiet movement going on – and it’s gaining traction worldwide. Changing government policy, the digitisation of transport, increasing mobility options, a rise in active travel, plus pent up demand from Covid-19 to travel, socialise and visit family and friends – they all impact on the future of transport and how we move around. 

These factors combined are also creating an urgent need for mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) to deliver services efficiently and make transport and travel easier to access for millions of people. Indeed, the market for MaaS is expected to grow to more than US$230bn worldwide by 2025 – that’s nearly a tenfold increase in less than a decade (source: Statistica).

As these trends align, we believe that now is the right time for MaaS to take centre stage. In the first half of this two-part series, we look at how governments and mobility providers are directing change and why MaaS is an essential component to making this work.

Global push for smarter sustainable transport 

Many governments and cities have already committed to greener transport and environmental protection through sustainable mobility policies and initiatives – and that commitment is only getting stronger. The European Green Deal alone aims to make a ‘90% cut in emissions by 2050, delivered by a smart, competitive, safe, accessible and affordable transport system.’

The latest European Commission’s Smart Mobility Strategy in particular hints at the important part MaaS will play. Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, says, “Today’s strategy will shift the way people and goods move across Europe and make it easy to combine different modes of transport in a single journey.”

Europe is not alone in this endeavour. The US, Australia, Asia and the Middle East are also intent on making transport smarter and more sustainable. Examples include the Australian government’s Smart Cities Plan (part of the wider United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) and the National Climate Change Plan of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. Countries worldwide are phasing out fossil fuel vehicle sales in favour of electric vehicles, largely by 2030. Low emission and clean air zones are also supporting more livable city environments, such as in Antwerp (Belgium), Berlin (Germany), Beijing (China), Helsinki (Finland), and London (UK) (source: Wikipedia). 

MaaS is an enabler for governments and cities. It helps to get cleaner, efficient, smarter and more cost-effective modes of transport in front of citizens by making it easier for them to access mobility options from a single mobile app. This includes the ability to view the CO2 emissions for each leg of a journey. Along with incentives to choose greener mobility options, this could help governments and cities to deliver on their sustainability targets and protect citizen wellbeing.

Rise in alternative modes of transport

We’ve seen impressive growth in alternative transport modes available to consumers. From the rise of Uber to micro-mobility, the options have gone far beyond the public transport and taxi systems of old. Global shared mobility passenger miles are expected to reach 18 per cent by 2035 (source: Statistica). Pre-Covid, the USA saw 136m shared bike and scooter trips in 2019 – 60% more than in 2018 (source: National Association of City Transportation Officials). While revenues took a hit during the pandemic, McKinsey states it expects the micro-mobility sector to make a strong recovery. 

The evidence is there. The global bike-sharing market is predicted to reach €13.8bn by 2026 (source: Statistica). More options now than ever before are available, including shared cargo e-bikes. There are fewer points of contact, and it’s far easier to maintain a distance from other people. With the rise in first-time users of micro-mobility and a shift in use cases (such as picking up a takeaway or prescription from the chemist), there’s a growing acceptance of micro mobility.

Talks between e-scooter rental companies and the UK Government could see a surge in the number of e-scooters on UK streets this summer (regulations were fast-tracked last year). It’s a trend that’s happening elsewhere too. People want to know they have safe, hygienic alternatives to their private vehicles that are cost-effective too. 

With so many options available, it’s increasingly difficult for users to know what transport modes are available when. MaaS provides a fast, straightforward way to bring all these different modes of transport together. This has several advantages: Consumers can find the options available to them within a few clicks or taps. They can also receive personalised multi-mode trip routes based on what’s important to them such as time, cost, comfort or CO2 emissions.

Given the push by governments, the appetite among mobility startups and big players to develop new transport modes, and the rise in consumer acceptance, MaaS applications act as a major piece in the mobility jigsaw puzzle. It takes the hard work out of travel. After all, human nature is to follow the path of least resistance, and MaaS solves some of the common frustrations of travel, among other benefits which we will look at in the second part of this article.

SkedGo provides the technology and intelligent algorithms to power MaaS applications. If you’d like to discuss your MaaS project, we’d love to hear from you. We’d also be interested to hear from potential investors. Please feel free to get in touch.

Title image ©SkedGo 2021