Mobility as a Service could convert car drivers to bus riders

A study of 21,000 consumers shows MaaS could change commuting habits and reduce congestion. People need options beyond Uber to get where they're going.

Mobility as a Service could convert car drivers to bus riders

The selling point for ride hailing apps is convenience: no cash, maps, or transit schedules required.

Mobility-as-a-service providers want to make all transportation options as convenient as calling an Uber. The crucial element in doing that is creating one service that includes all types of transportation: scooters, cabs, metros, water taxis, private cars, even gondolas if you're lucky enough to be in the mountains.

HERE Mobility's's State of Mobility 2019 report asked about 21,000 people in the United States and Europe about their current transportation habits. The survey also tested the idea of mobility as a service to change consumer behaviors. The survey examined the transportation patterns, perceptions, and expectations of individuals from America, France, Spain, Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. 

The report found that:

  • Fewer than half of respondents use ride-hailing apps at all (47% in the US and 43% in Europe)
  • Individuals still face multiple pain points within their daily travel, including safety, convenience and access
  • MaaS may make it easier for families to use public transit and other modes of transportation
  • Many consumers expect their transportation behavior to shift away from private cars in the years to come

The mobility study also suggests an opportunity for behavior change among car owners whose trips require more than one transportation mode: stronger MaaS solutions would nudge drivers to try other transportation modes instead of private vehicles.
HERE Mobility, a Chicago company, is building software and services to make more efficient use of existing private and public transportation infrastructure. They are targeting hotels, airports, and stadiums as prime customers for their Mobility as a Service products. HERE launched its consumer app SoMo at CES 2019 and its mobility marketplace in 2018.

Testing MaaS in the real world

Helsinki residents have been reality checking the promise of MaaS since late 2017 when Whim launched its MaaS app. Whim connects Helsinki's transportation options in one app under one subscription. With the Whim app, a user can plan and pay for public transport, taxi, car rental, car sharing and city bike trips. Whim shared a years' worth of user data with Ramboll, an engineering, design and consultancy company in Denmark. The consulting firm looked for similarities and differences in travel behavior between Whim users and other city dwellers.

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The analysis suggests that a MaaS service can replace up to 38% of daily car trips. Although  Whim users made the same amount of daily trips within their city, they were more likely to use alternate forms of transportation.

The yearlong study also found that people who used the Whim app were 25% more likely to use public transportation and three times more likely to combine multiple forms of transportation, such as a taxi and public transportation, in a single trip. 

Paying the price of car travel

Uber and Lyft have made life easier for people who need a ride, but these transportation network companies have had the opposite effect on cities. In San Francisco, a study found that traffic delays went up 62% from 2010 to 2016. Lyft and Uber caused about 40% of that increase. 

Sitting in traffic is more than a nuisance. McKinsey & Company estimates that traffic congestion reduces national GDP by 2% to 5% of national GDP due to lost time, wasted fuel, and increased cost of doing business. Pollution from cars is causing a world-wide public health problem. Finally, a study of 4,200 Texas drivers found that long commutes are associated with "higher weight, lower fitness levels and higher blood pressure, and chronic stress." 

MaaS could support behavior change 

Shifting people out of private cars and into public transportation has the potential to level the playing field for local and regional mobility providers and to get more people back on public transportation. A MaaS marketplace could open up new transportation options for people who can't or don't drive: senior citizens, people who live in rural areas and need to get to a city for work or medical treatments, people with disabilities, kids in foster care or even millennials who don't drive. 

The MaaS adoption challenges would be different in low-density cities and rural areas, but the need for transportation remains the same. The increase in the senior citizen population is another demographic force that will support innovation in mobility. Maine is a great place for a MaaS pilot project.

Leaders in the transportation world all see the need to be "mobility service providers." Uber and Lyft are both branching out into electric bikes and scooters. Car manufacturers are buying car sharing companies. To add to this industry momentum, New York and Los Angeles and London are all introducing congestion pricing to keep cars out of city centers and some cities are banning cars altogether

pyramid showing the technology components of Mobility as a Service

The integration of three major technologies sets the foundation for the development and growth of Mobility as a Service.

Image: HERE Mobility State of Mobility 2019

Also see

DevOps: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
Microsoft HoloLens 2: An insider's guide (TechRepublic download)
How smart tech is transforming the transportation industry (TechRepublic Premium)
Technology that changed us: The 1970s, from Pong to Apollo (ZDNet)
These smart plugs are the secret to a seamless smart home (CNET)
The 10 most important iPhone apps of all time (
Tom Merritt's Top 5 series (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

By Veronica Combs

Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis...