Insights in the future of mobility

Why MaaS would benefit from a public-private partnership

Posted by Mathys Heytens on 09/11/18 15:08
Mathys Heytens

It took a while before disruptive players like Uber, that fiercely force their place onto the mobility market, received a big punch in the face by the regulation hammer. Looks like things should first get out of hand before someone intervenes. “But now they make it so hard to be smart” is an often a recurring criticism from the private side. This absence of trust vibe makes it hard to offer a comprehensive MaaS solution for end-users. However, we must join forces if we want to deliver an impeccable service.

Towards an open attitude

We must admit, MaaS is just a young kid on the block, characterized by ‘teething pains’. However, it has the gigantic potential of changing our transportation behavior in a much better, economical and sustainable way. An important factor in its growth development is getting all of the players to work together.

This calls for an open attitude. Not only the capital and innovation capabilities of the private sector are essential, but it is also time to open the API feeds of public transportation operators and give private players access to, for example, the public transit system’s data and real-time location. And although private participants might benefit from MaaS in terms of profit, government agencies win in the end as well, thanks to: reduced congestion and better air quality, less traffic jams & accidents, etc… 

Public + private = win for end-users

End-users can only gain from the benefits of MaaS if both private and public players collaborate. However, few platforms, include both private and public transportation options and link everything together in a single solution. And even fewer take payments, or allow journeys across multiple transportation operators to be paid for in a single transaction.

Nowadays, gaps in public services are filled by small-scale private providers. We see different kinds popping-up: from peer-to-peer solutions to shuttle services over carpooling possibilities. But all of them require their own app with its own usability, interface, payment methods, etc. What if all these solutions could be bundled in one app, including the public transportation offer?

Investments in programs

Susan Shaheen, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Centre at the University of California, Berkely, recently said: “The mission is to work out how to make MaaS solutions work as a balanced system”. And this requires investments, for instance in a uniform data exchange system.

In the US, for instance, collaboration between public and private has been initialized by the US Federal Transit Administration, who awarded several billion dollars to a series of new projects to integrate new technology into mass transit networks. “This offers an opportunity to create a synergistic relationship, rather than a competitive one”, says an enthusiastic Susan Shaheen.

Topics: MaaS, City & Government