With the recent IPO of notable ride hail behemoths, there’s been a impetus to take stock of the entire mobility ecosystem — including its stakeholders, providers, and operators. As we approach a better understanding of the dynamics that shape cities and their mobility platforms, it is crucial to weigh the costs and benefits in approaching specific mobility models.
On one end of the spectrum, we have Mobility as a Service (MaaS) models that emphasize an all-inclusive platform. There are many terms used in the industry to describe this model, but for simplicity sake we will call this a Private MaaS. The Private MaaS takes a vertically integrated approach, bundling all providers in a closed ecosystem (walled garden). This approach typically includes one mobility provider for each mode of mobility, e.g. scooters, bikeshare, etc. While there are benefits to be gained from this approach, a majority of the providers are excluded from such platforms. This results in an incomplete menu of mobility options for consumers.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the Public MaaS model. This is an approach that takes a horizontal view of mobility. Specifically, the Public MaaS model integrates all mobility providers into a single platform. While there are indeed technical challenges with different levels of integration, the benefits to consumers can be easily seen. When bundled with multi modal routing, public transportation information, real time traffic, and mobile transit ticketing, we begin to see how a fuller realization of MaaS can materialize.
Each city and region has its own unique set of requirements and circumstances, but in Europe many public transportation agencies (PTAs) are trending towards a city-based Public MaaS model — where all mobility service providers (MSPs) are orchestrated by the public sector. This model can be accomplished directly by the PTAs through their own white label, or through a 3rd party data platform intermediary — or combination of both. What is key to success is protection of consumer data privacy, which has raised many concerns recently.
In short, while much can be said about being the next “Amazon” or “Google of Transportation”, in reality it’s just not a thing yet. It will have to be seen if a Private MaaS, one-stop shop will ever be more than lofty ambitions and promises.
Scott Shepard is Chief Commercial Officer with Free2Move