Transportation, whether on the footpath, by bus, train or plane, is not an end in itself. It’s what it allows us to do. The whole journey – the daily commute or the overseas flight, usually takes some joined up thinking. Making our journeys seamless is one of the aims of Mobility as a Service or MaaS.
MaaS is about integrating various forms of transport services into a single mobility service that is accessible on demand. In other words, an App. But for this to work, a few things have to change. Sharing is part of it. The added benefit is that it offers a real chance to lower our carbon emissions.
If we want to move away from privately owned cars the alternatives have to be as good or better. In the context of autonomous vehicles the idea of MaaS is gaining ground. MaaS combines mobility services from public transport, taxis, car rental and car and bicycle sharing under one platform on a smart phone. It also has the capacity for buy tickets and plan journeys.
A recent article from The University of Sydney Business School discusses whether MaaS will remain a niche service or whether it can grow into something bigger. Having different levels of service at a range of prices is part of the solution. The biggest hurdle to overcome will be built-in prejudices about using this type of service. But will MaaS be accessible and usable by everyone? There is little mentioned about this in any of the articles.
Accessibility is not just about wheelchair access. People who become anxious in crowded places would benefit from knowing when train carriages are full, for example. But all parts of a service with different operators relies on every one of them being inclusive and accessible. AARP in the United States has a comprehensive look at MaaS in their report, Universal Mobility as a Service.
While there is much going on in this space, there is still a lot to work out to make sure inclusion and accessibility is seamless for MaaS to work for everyone.
Medium online magazine provides a very good overview of MaaS. It explains the different steps we need to take to integrate our transport services.