MaaS — another old idea packaged as new with trendy acronym
Recently I was heading to somewhere and instead of sticking to my old routines and choices (train and bus) I thought to take a look what some new companies, which are calling them as MaaS operators or companies, can offer. Like Maas Global and their service Whim. I soon found out that most likely I’ll never use Whim, or at least while offering is what it is now. And, actually, I would not even call them MaaS operator, as they do, and even less as “the world’s first MaaS (Mobility as a Service) operator” as they like shout out.
MaaS, or Mobility as a Service, is not anything new. There has been hundreds of years companies and operators who have offered their transportation services for a fee, on request. Modern cities, and still most of the countryside, have local operators for busses, metros, trams, trains, taxis, airlines, ferries and so on. From single ticket (single trip) to monthly plans which allows as many trips as needed/wanted. Arent those companies and operators mobility as a service providers? I think so.
Many of them are also looking to get out of their traditional boxes, looking to cater whole trip regardless of the transportation methods. Like, Finnish Railways (VR) when you travel e.g. to Turku. When you buy train ticket, you can also buy Turku’s local bus network’s (Föli) bus ticket. Nice, if you need to catch the bus after the train. Except that does not work as should: you need to print your ticket as only train ticket appears into VR’s mobile app and only way to use bus ticket is to print it. But I guess it will be fixed soon, as surely as weather changes does not affect VR’s trains to be in time.
Many other companies are looking to do same things, from VR to airlines and bus network operators. And even that idea is nothing new, travel agencies have been doing that for years, providing travel services by combining different transportation methods when needed. Now that kind of services are just getting into “smaller” level, covering local transportation too, not only “big” needs. Which is good. But, again, if nitpicking words a bit, aren’t companies like Maas Global more like travel agencies, just with a bit different focus?
I hope MaaS Global, and others, can make something big and change the world but as I said, I won’t be their user/client with current offerings. I do not want to pay advance (monthly fee) for the services I do not know I need nor I do not know how much I need, like taxis or car rentals. And especially as I’m living in a city and I have good public transportation connections, I rarely need for taxis or have a need to rent a car. But when I have need, I’ll gladly pay for those services and actually only pain in the ass is car rental. Usually there’s a need to travel quite much to pick it up and same thing when dropping it off. And of course it is always too expensive.
So, how about really something new on the MaaS front, following the footsteps of AirBnB? Renting other people’s cars. I think that is good idea and I’m wondering why those companies are not thriving? Yeah, we call our cars sometimes as modern times holy cows so are we afraid of giving them to others hands? Or, are people just too eager and money hungry? Like, when I took a look at Shareitbloxcar offerings, I realized that prices are just too high. In most of the cases taxi is around the same price and easier to get (no need to go somewhere to pick car up) for shorter trips and for a longer ones, like day or more, rental cars are cheaper.
While watching what what happens on the MaaS front, I’ll just continue to use my trusted and old MaaS providers, paying as I go.