Mobility as a Service: The Future of Transportation?

There are more ways of getting from one place to another than ever before in the United States with the rise of ride-sharing and publicly accessible scooters and bikes. In larger metro areas with reliable public transportation, there is less personal ownership, but this is only for small sets of the population currently.

With new technology and the explosion in popularity of ride-sharing, transportation is ready for a disruptive shift. How will transportation go from personal to mobility as a service?

New Platforms with All Your Options

For mobility as a service to become a reality, transportation options will need to be on one platform—because passengers want convenience above all else. MaaS Global, a company that is the “environmentally sound alternative to owning a car,” is working on such a solution.

Its platform finds the best option for each trip, including taxis, public transportation, or ride-share. For this platform to be all-encompassing, cities and transportation providers will have to join the network. As more consumers desire this ability, more cities and providers will see the benefit of adding their services to the app.

Finland is attempting to carry out the same ambitious task, making all transportation options available with a goal to eliminate the personal car by 2025, according to a report by Deloitte. Helsinki residents have been able to have this information at their fingertips since 2016 with an app called Whim. The Finnish capital’s citizens use it to plan and pay for modes of public and private transportation.

What Will Power Mobility as a Service?

Three pieces of technology have to come together for mobility as a service to become a practice of more individuals. Mobile, big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are already transforming the customer experience in other industries. Transportation is on track to be next.

With the data provided by IoT in real time, machine learning can take over to analyze that data and deliver fast recommendations. As more people continue to use and adopt mobile technology, everything the person needs is available to make a transportation decision.

This new model is forcing traditional transportation providers and their technical experts to rethink the entire way people move. This is because transportation is now a consumer demand—thus there must be supply and that supply must be readily available to passengers.

If individuals continue to find that on-demand transportation is accessible and cost-efficient no matter how far the destination, people may stop buying personal cars and begin to prefer this immediate fulfillment of their need—to get from one location to the next. When looking at the key message of why this shift is coming, it is that consumer preferences will change.

Will this happen overnight? No, there are still many Americans who will always prefer their own vehicle, and those living in rural areas will not have the same supply as metro areas in the early stages. The benefits to mobility as a service are still very tempting, including the ability for someone to choose from myriad options how to get where they are going.

Mobility as a Service Benefits Consumers and Providers

Mobility as a service gives consumers the freedom to choose, but they will still need that “open” platform that delivers all the possible options. The more cities and providers that make their availability visible to consumers, the more adoption a platform would have.

Further, all the data collected on the demand for transportation could have huge benefits to society as a whole with better-planned routes and understanding where traffic is heaviest for future planning.

Where will transportation take society next? It is poised for a dramatic revolution in the next few years, with consumer demand for options and convenience as the driving force.

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