What’s Missing from MaaS Today

Why Implementing MaaS is About Much More than An App

Everyone is talking about Mobility as a Service (MaaS) as the “holy grail” transportation solution where passengers can choose from several transit options, make choices in real-time, and pay for them—all in one app. This sentiment holds true on so many levels; however, MaaS is more than just an app or the “Netflix” of transportation. It is an opportunity for transit agencies to offer complete mobility solutions to their communities and truly elevate the rider and agency experience. And to do that, we need to think as much about the technology driving our transit service as we do about the end-user app itself.

MaaS is broader and more innovative than any single streaming service. It brings multiple platforms together, cohesively, into a holistic solution. MaaS puts real freedom of choice and transit options into people’s hands by keeping information flowing in real-time, updating passengers with key data during their trip, and keeping vehicles scheduled at the right place. More importantly, MaaS gives transit agencies an unparalleled understanding of how people use transit in their cities, and the knowledge to enhance their operations to exceed the expectations of evolving rider demands.

Imagine you are on commuter rail and planning a ride share transfer, but there is a track delay. When should the driver pick you up? Will you have to cancel the trip and rebook? What is your updated arrival time? 

A well-built MaaS solution should answer these questions and entice people who have not used public transit before to give it a try. Someone might live close to a bus or rail line, but their destination is not near the lines. Using MaaS, travelers can combine public transit with a taxi, ride share, mobility-on-demand, or even a bike, to close the mobility gap. People need more than convenience to try public transit, they also need confidence in travel planning. They need to know they will get where they are going smoothly, on time, and stress-free. 

At Trapeze, we focus on ensuring MaaS promotes the value of mass transit to riders and encourages people to take transit. To do that, we think about not just the front-end of our solutions but everything that brings our MaaS application, and mobility overall, to life. 

An integrated mobility ecosystem incorporates everything from mobility planning and asset management to real-time system information, route optimization, and mobility on demand, while ensuring that data flows between the rider-facing app and the back-end technologies. Rich back-end integrations enable rich mobility analytics about rider travel patterns and how to improve service delivery over time.

Rider satisfaction is only the beginning of what effective MaaS technologies can offer. As an industry, we are moving beyond evaluating the effectiveness of regional transportation based solely on traditional metrics like ridership, and towards evaluating services based on their positive impact on customer experience. When we start to think about the bigger impact of solving these core mobility goals – and the technology it takes to do so – then we can start to understand how MaaS is truly more than just an app.

To spur usage, a MaaS solution must do a few things well right off the bat. It needs to integrate the services people use, make it easy for riders to find these services, and allow for a simple way to plan, book, and pay for end-to-end mobility needs.

For agencies, a MaaS solution needs to leverage all their existing systems and ensure a harmonious alignment between services as planned and service as delivered. All technologies – digital signage, schedules, buses, trains, an alternative transport mode – need to be in sync, and riders need to receive that information reliably and consistently throughout their journeys. If a vehicle needs to be pulled off the road for maintenance, agencies maintain service continuity and to communicate information to all customers that best limits disruptions to their trip. To do that, MaaS needs to be built from a strong foundation— and that is the integrated mobility ecosystem Trapeze offers. 

MaaS apps are important, but they are not new. Few apps available today seamlessly integrate all the elements a transit platform built upon decades of industry-leading experience offers. At Trapeze, we can, and it is what we are doing every day to elevate the rider experience. 

For Trapeze, MaaS is more than yet another transit app. It is transforming how we view the role of transit agencies and improves regional mobility for all. To do that, let us consider the entire mobility ecosystem upon which MaaS is built. We are ready to do so. Are you?

Garrett Vandendries is an industry-recognized technology leader and the director of product management – MaaS at Trapeze Group. Vandendries directs product strategies related to trip planning, payments, analytics and data science, and other platform integrations therein which enhance how agencies deliver—and customers experience—regional mobility. He has spent his career helping public transit and transportation agencies around the world improve their business operations through context-sensitive strategic management and an innovative approach to fostering meaningful technological change. Vandendries is a proud Leadership APTA alumnus, international traveler, woodworker, average guitar player, and all-around transit nerd. Visit www.trapezegroup.com for more information.