At ITS Toulouse 2022, MaaS Global CEO Sampo Hietanen together with Voi’s Jasmin Rimmele, UCL Energy Institute’s Maria Kamargianni and TPF’s Clément Brosy took part in a panel titled ‘Mind the gap – perceived value of MaaS vs car ownership’ where they discussed the value perception of cars, how to approach decreasing the amount of private vehicles on the roads and to advance the MaaS ecosystem. As part of the panel, we interviewed the participants on their topics to learn more about their thoughts.
Covid-19 has dramatically changed how we view traveling today. In addition, increasing carbon emissions have become a global concern that has entered every aspect of our lives. Together they have forced us to rethink our travel habits, and while private cars may still sometimes be seen as the all-in-one solution for all mobility questions, they are not sustainable on an ecological or economical scale. MaaS solutions can be the key to changing this mindset, but it starts with the people and how we approach them.
“The most important question to ask is how can we change people’s travel behavior? It’s not just one player’s game, we need everyone in the ecosystem on board. And we have to ensure we can face the obstacles that hinder the regeneration of the ecosystem itself,” summarizes Maria Kamargianni, Professor of Transport Systems Innovation and Sustainability and the Head of MaaSLab at UCL.
“Public transport is the backbone of MaaS, and there are cities that already meet most of the user needs with this offering. Travel time, punctuality, cost, safety, all of these matter. When a good foundation is ready and new things are launched on top of it, people will follow. But you need the foundation,” she continues.
This foundation is dependent on the ecosystem as well. In order to create a MaaS system that works, radical measures have to be taken. Government, cities and authorities must all come together to ensure up-to-date and coherent legislation as well as a strong vision to cover the integration of MaaS. And according to Kamargianni, it all starts with the customer.
“In cases like these, a MaaS operator’s first customer is the city. The true customers, the citizens, require so many things from mobility that you cannot provide them without the city. You may need to change the whole image of mobility to invite people in, but when you do it successfully, the way they view mobility from there on will be completely different.”
She details the feedback she has received from people for her study on what successful mobility looks like. What shows most in the feedback is how an ecosystem can make public and shared mobility something users navigate to when it is organized well and its image has been thought through. And for most, the same routes that are a piece of cake with public transport or micromobility can sound like a nightmare to cover with a car.
And for the most part, a car is only a means of transport that sits unused 96 % of the time. But there are still times when it can be necessary. Starting a family is a time when the car ownership rates often go up, but in certain areas it is too expensive to raise a child and have a car at the same time.
“You always have to think about the city context. If all the services are readily available in a city, you won’t necessarily need your car. But there are also cities, where you might not have a choice,” Kamargianni says.
To ensure mobility services reach scarcely populated areas and areas with long distances, a functioning ecosystem is essential. In order to compete with the car ecosystem, Kamargianni emphasizes the importance of building a functioning MaaS ecosystem first.
“A well-functioning MaaS ecosystem requires a lot of openness. Operators may be worried about losing their identity and brand, and so they prefer to have their own MaaS platforms or services that are only accessible to their own clients. But monopolizing is not fair to the customer,” Kamargianni notes.
This is why she sees many positives in placing EU-wide regulations on MaaS operators. Most importantly, legislation can provide a level playing field for different operators to function for the common good, share their data but also to receive data they can use to serve the most important player of the MaaS ecosystem, the user.