One of the biggest buzzwords in the New Mobility sector is MaaS (Mobility as a Service). MaaS is a new modus operandi where new, sustainable and functional traffic system establishes end user-driven traffic and transport services in co-operation between the private and public sector - while the consumer benefits from digitalisation and the providers of gathered information and added value. In practice, MaaS enables customers to utilise new services and opportunities by a completely new kind of traffic operators.

New Investments Ahead

The new area is growing rapidly and the market is getting bigger and bigger, especially in Europe, which has been the early pioneer of MaaS. There have been several forecasts and studies regarding the increase of the Mobility as a Service market in the future, varying from USD 106.8 billion to an over USD 1 trillion global market by 2030. However, one thing is clear from the forecasts and studies: the market is booming. For instance, a couple of years back it was noted that over 1,700 start-ups were disrupting the automotive industry and it goes without saying that new innovations are in need of capital.

Big players in the automotive and technology industries are involved in exploring the new market, either via investments (e.g. Denso, Veho, Toyota and Karsan have invested in Finnish company MaaS Global who is providing an app called Whim ) and/or doing development of their own (e.g. Tesla's autonomous mobility service).

Forerunners of MaaS

As described in our earlier article in December 2019, the Nordic countries have proven to be well equipped to take on a leading role and shift their transport system due to the legislative environment in these countries around key trends of mobility. For instance, the Finnish Act on Transport Services (Laki liikenteen palveluista in Finnish, also known as Liikennepalvelulaki ) came into force in 2018 and aims to promote the implementation of MaaS, amongst other things. The Nordic countries are not the only well positioned countries in the new mobility industry. France is also at the forefront of the development of new mobility schemes and MaaS models. On November 19th, 2019 the French Parliament adopted the so-called “Mobility Orientation Act”, covering all aspects of terrestrial transportation: individual and shared cars, carpooling, buses, railways, and chauffeur driven vehicles, along with “soft” urban mobility such as rental bikes or electric scooters.

The main objective of the new legislation is to (i) increase the accessibility of medium-sized cities and other territories that are poorly connected to major urban centers, (ii) strengthen the daily travel offering in order to remedy the saturation of city centres’ traffic and public transportation and improve the link between urban and periurban areas, and (iii) accelerate the energy transition and fight against pollution by promoting the shared use of individual modes of transport and facilitating multimodal travels.

To this end, the French legislator wishes to foster the digitalisation of the transportation sector and encourage public and private initiatives to design and implement local MaaS platforms. A specific regulatory framework has thus been created to enable local government to fund and/or set up platforms (multimodal digital services) within their territory, whose purpose would be to provide the public with all available information on the transportation offering within the area, to calculate the best itineraries based on available static and dynamic data regarding traffic, schedules and infrastructure conditions, and to propose combined (multimodal) travel.

To this effect, mobility operators within the relevant area will be invited to join the MaaS digital platform as operated by the public authority or its delegate so that their services and offerings can be visualised and ordered through the platform. This is aimed at improving the users’ knowledge of available travel services within their region and choose the most suitable mode (including a combined mode) from a timing, environmental or financial standpoint with a specific emphasis on “soft” mobility and carpooling.

The extent of the MaaS Platform responsibilities may extend as far as issuing tickets, billing and collecting payments on behalf of the mobility operators (carpooling services, rental bike operators, parking lot managers etc.), or even selling services directly through distribution arrangements.

One transportation ticket to rule them all?

Many local authorities have anticipated the adoption of the French Mobility Act and have already started to work on the design and deployment of their MaaS platform, which they primarily view as a one-stop-shop for users where they would be able to order a range of transportation services through a single pass, substituting their current subscription to each and every service (railway pass/ metro pass/ free float bikes subscription services etc.). This obviously requires a great deal of interaction with all stakeholders and, especially the mobility operators, in order to figure out the principles and methods of data exchange in compliance with data privacy rules, security measures to protect and trade secrets and governance including rules governing the usage of the data generated by the operation of the services, whether for public interest purposes or improvement of the various services provided.

It should also be noted that the French Mobility Act paves the way for future regulation of driverless and connected vehicles. The law allows the government to lay down rules aimed at amending road traffic regulation to take into account the emergence of autonomous cars and to define the associated liability regime.

The government will also be entitled to define the conditions under which certain data recorded or issued by connected vehicles may be shared with road infrastructure managers for risk detection and overhaul purposes, with insurance companies in order for them to determine responsibilities in relation to road accidents and to improve security, and e.g. to car repair and maintenance operators, which benefit from the non-discriminatory access to technical data. The law also enables the French government to take any relevant measures aimed at reducing the territorial divides through the experimentation of new mobility solutions, which could encompass the testing of automated public transportation.

Challenges and Opportunities

While benefits to end-users are becoming more evident, the new MaaS industry faces a wide range of issues and challenges, ranging from classic supply chain, liability and IP matters to more intricate questions about data use, infrastructure change and regulation.

While European forerunner countries are already acting on the challenges and opportunities, there is as of yet no uniform EC-level regulation in the area. Until that point in time, MaaS remains a very interesting but regulation-wise challenging market for operators, cities, local governments and the broader ecosystem alike.