Is MaaS the future of urban mobility?

Published by on 12.30.2019 - 5 min

Although we can be confident that tomorrow’s means of transportation will be more environmentally friendly, they will also have to adapt to the usage behaviors of a constantly changing society. With this in mind, MaaS could become one of the pillars of urban mobility.

What is MaaS?

An acronym for Mobility as a Service, MaaS is a concept aiming to make all the transportation services of a town or city available to users. In real terms this concept takes the form of a mobile application, which brings up a turnkey itinerary to get from point A to point B. Users can take the subway, then a cab or self-service car, and complete the last part of the journey by bicycle or scooter, without the need for different travel passes or to deal with the ticketing process.

MaaS is already working in Helsinki. The Finnish capital was the first to bring all public-sector and private-sector transportation operators together within a single app called Whim. As well as providing the information needed to make the trip (timetables, location tracking of shared vehicles, etc.), this platform makes it possible to book and pay for the trip, either with single tickets or with a monthly travel pass depending on the means of transportation used.
Other European cities and countries are already implementing or exploring the possibilities offered by MaaS with public operators, like Vienna (Austria) with its WienMobil application, Göteborg (Sweden), Hamburg (Germany) and Annemasse (France). Certain public authorities also opt for private operators like Whim, which exists in Helsinki (Finland) and Birmingham (UK).

What’s the objective of MaaS?

The idea is to offer a complete, flexible array of transportation options, bringing together all operators in the sector. This condition is essential for users to be able to get around as they please, while promoting cleaner methods of transportation.

The other advantage of MaaS, combined with the rise of electric cars and car sharing, will be to reduce the environmental impact of transportation in cities while clearing downtown areas of traffic.

Is there a difference between car sharing and self-service car rental?

maas application

Fundamentally there’s no difference between the two concepts, although car sharing tends to involve short trips.

In both cases, the service gives the user access to a vehicle without them owning it or paying for its running or parking costs. The idea of self-service is about being able to use the vehicle anytime, without third parties being involved. In most cases, the car is rented through a dedicated app.

So actually, car sharing is a kind of self-service car rental, which is especially well suited to city trips. In fact, standard car rental companies are increasingly offering car sharing services by making some of their vehicles available 24h/7 without a rental desk controlling access.

There are several different car sharing setups:

Roundtrip car sharing

After having used the rented vehicle, the user must return it to the same point where they picked it up. This is the service proposed by Renault Mobility in France and Zipcar in the UK.

One-way car sharing

The basic idea is the same, except that the driver can pick up the vehicle from one charging station and return it to another. It’s the case, for example, of the Bluely service in Lyon and the Zen Car service in Brussels.

Free-floating car sharing

The user uses geolocation to find the nearest available vehicle, makes their trip and then leaves the vehicle in any parking location. The service operator picks it up and brings it to a charging station. You might call this “full self-service.”

In Madrid, Zity is also an example of a free floating car sharing operator, with its fleet of 500 Renault ZOEs available for rental. In 2020, Zity also arrives in Paris.

Car sharing in Europe

For several years now, self-service car sharing has seen continuous growth in continental Europe.

In Germany the phenomenon has already won over 1.26 million subscribers, while in Madrid records show that there are several hundred thousand users. In France, more than 20% of drivers in Paris have used the service.

The sector’s major players are scattered across Europe. With its fleet of electric vehicles, Renault is partnering with various operators in Copenhagen (Denmark), Madrid (Spain), Stockholm (Sweden), Palermo, Lecce and Bologna (Italy) etc. Without forgetting France: as well as Paris, where 500 Renault vehicles are currently available on a free floating basis, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Avignon and Grenoble have gone down the car sharing route with the Renault Twizy using the Totem Mobi service.

 

Copyrights : Marco_Piunti, Mikko Lemola, svetikd

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