Mass Transit Ticketing – Mobility as a Service (MaaS)

In our last few articles, we wrote an introduction to mass transit ticketing, covering the main digital ticketing methods available to transit agencies, including closed-loop and open-loop ticketing . We then dived into the time it takes to tap an open-loop card in transit.

We now want to build on these initial concepts and introduce a new type of transportation service that is emerging: MaaS (Mobility as a Service).  

MaaS providers offer a variety of transportation options and can include bike sharing, ridesharing, scooters, taxis and even traditional public transit systems. It is more than just a new way to hail a ride. It’s a comprehensive approach to transportation that is generally controlled from a single app on your smartphone. 

MaaS has the potential to change the way we think about urban transportation. It can reduce congestion and pollution, because it makes public transit more convenient, and it gets people out of their cars and onto shared transit infrastructure. 

As we discussed previously, the travel between a public transit stop and the passenger’s final destination (home, work, shopping, etc.), is known as the “last mile” of a rider’s journey.  One of the key aims of MaaS is to address this problem and work with transit authorities to provide easier, transparent and seamless connections between private and public transport systems, across different operators. 

Main Advantages 

The advantages of MaaS are many and varied. Perhaps most importantly, it gives people greater freedom and flexibility when it comes to getting around. No longer do they need to own or lease a car – they can simply use one when they need it, for as long or short a time as they like.  

This can save them a considerable amount of money, both in terms of the upfront cost of buying or leasing a vehicle, and in terms of ongoing running costs such as fuel, insurance, servicing and repairs. It also frees up space in their homes, as they no longer need to store a car. 

MaaS is more convenient than traditional forms of transport. For example, users can book cars by the hour or day, meaning they only pay for the time they use them. 

Ride-share 

A combination of traditional public transportation and ride-share can efficiently solve the last-mile problem for a lot of riders, unfortunately riders who live in rural areas with poor public transportation options, can find it difficult to reliably find ride-share options at the times they want to travel.  

In a study conducted by Science Advances, found that ride-share or “transportation network companies” lead to an increase in traffic congestion, rather than decrease as most people assumed they would.  Read more here. 

Bike and e-scooter rental  

Bike sharing and e-scooter programs provide an environmentally friendly and active transportation option for city residents and visitors, they and offer a fun and convenient way to travel short distances. Additionally, they help reduce traffic congestion and parking demands, while providing an affordable transportation alternative.  

However, these programs can be expensive to implement and maintain, and may require significant investment in infrastructure.  Due topographical aspects, city environments, and weather actors such as snow and ice, they may require careful planning to ensure accessibility and safety. 

Multi Modal  

As we have seen, the key to MaaS platforms is to accommodate many different modes of travel in a seamless way.  These modes are combined differently depending on the city, types of travel, and riders’ preferences. 

The MaaS ODIN trial currently being carried out at the University of Queensland is a great example of how one size does not fit all.  The purpose of the trial is to learn what works in the student environment, and then roll out appropriate MaaS type solutions. 

More information on how the trial is progressing here.

MaaS Ticketing 

MaaS platforms have two main ways to charge riders.  Subscription plans – where the rider typically pays a fixed fee per month, to access a range of services, or Pay As You Go (PAYG), which can either be pre-paid into a wallet, or post-paid, once travel is complete. 

There are also hybrid models where some services are included at certain times, and some incur an additional charge.  For example, off-peak travel could be included, with an additional fee levied to the rider’s account for travel in peak or by specific modes, such as taxi. 

When there are multiple operators in a MaaS ticketing systems, the concept of a broker or aggregator to pass information on riders taps and travel between separate operators can be adopted.   

MaaS ticketing systems use account-based ticketing techniques to gather a riders travel details across modes and operators and calculate fares for the charging period.  

Conclusion 

For a MaaS solution to be successful we need a combination of traditional mass transport, rural buses, on demand transport, and ride-share that link together to provide a fast multi-modal rider experience.  It is not a one-size-fits scenario, and trials and pilots need to be run to see what works for each city’s residents and visitors. 

Authors: David Lunt, Technical Director, Australia & Eugene Lishak, Associate, Canada, Payments Consulting Network 

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David and Eugene have worked on ticketing systems since 2011 and 2008 respectively. They both bring a wealth of knowledge to the Payments Consulting Network on this topic. 

This is part of a series of transit articles. 

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