The next big thing in micromobility - MaaS

The next big thing in micromobility - MaaS

The more help we expect from technologies, the more we should pump it up with data. For example, if we want to know precisely when public transport will be the most crowded or at what time a particular street will have the heaviest traffic, we have to provide algorithms with as much data as possible about people’s movements. If we have enough data sources and information that can be easily shared, then it’s not a problem. Data will help to make our lives easier. 

Vehicle sharing and micro-mobility solutions are becoming more popular each year while expanding in more and more cities and countries all over the world. All these platforms and solutions create a certain amount of data. When used properly, it can help to improve everyday life in the city. 

MaaS solutions collects data from several service providers

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) providers are a perfect source of data. MaaS solutions integrate various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand. These different transport forms include public transport, as well as ride, car, and bike-sharing. In some cases, this might include data about taxis and car rental services. 

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The idea behind MaaS is that everything is available inside a single application. So there is no need to pay for each service separately. Moreover, there are different payment plans available – a monthly subscription model with a fixed monthly fee or “pay-as-you-go”, where each leg of the booked trip is priced separately.

In 2021 several interesting and significant MaaS partnerships were announced in Europe. One example is the partnership between the public transport company Arriva Nederland (part of Arriva Group, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn), and Moovit - the MaaS solutions specialist owned by Intel. This collaboration has made a new nationwide MaaS solution available to employers in the Netherlands with the chance to provide their staff with a mobility budget for their commuting, business, and private journeys. The MaaS app is called Glimble and it is planning to expand in Belgium, as well as in parts of Germany. 

Earlier last year, Swiss Federal Railways - public transport operators in Zurich, Basel, and Bern - created a MaaS solution yumuv. It is the first regional MaaS with subscriptions and is powered by Trafi. In less than two months, yumuv was downloaded by almost 1,000 individuals who made nearly 2,000 rides in Zurich alone. Almost 200 subscribers opted for different subscription packages.

This graph by the yumuv app shows how much information can be obtained from one source of the MaaS solution. It is possible to follow people’s movement, the most popular routes to get from point A to point B, as well as the choice of the vehicles along the way. So this data is indispensable.

The more the user is willing to share data, the more he gets in return. This case is no exception. With the development of MaaS, users of the solution get more freedom to choose while moving in the city. Basically, the user can decide on its own terms without the need to switch apps or platforms. Various vehicle options and different service providers are available on one unified interface. The choice between the fastest or the cheapest option is behind the user. As everything is integrated into one app (citymapper, Moovit), it is efficient and fast to also include public transport in the trip. 

Google Maps and Moovit - on their way to becoming MaaS?

Recently all the biggest players in the micro-mobility market have moved to where most people are looking for commuting solutions. It all started with Bird, Lime, Waybots (Skip), and Spin joining Transit app in April 2018. Afterward, In Europe, CityMapper added the two biggest bike operators Ofo and Mobike in June 2018. Soon after, CityMapper announced several integrations for bike, moped, and scooter operators, such as Jump, Lime (at that time separate), and Nextbike; Spin, and Bird scooters; and Cooltra, Coup, and ZigZag mopeds. 

The next big thing that happened was the exclusive partnership between Google Maps and Lime that started at the end of 2018 and lasted 2,5 years. It was the integration for short-distance trips, only eight months after Lime started to provide e-scooter services. The company announced that the app shows scooters and bikes nearby in the “transit” tab, as well as via “walking” and “cycling” tabs. The app displays information about each vehicle - distance, price, and battery range. 

Moovit was the first MaaS company to add routes for cyclists and it happened back in 2018. The company started its partnerships with GoTo, Donkey Republic, Mimoto, Mobike and Bird, Circ, Hive, and several others in 2019. Moovit added more partnerships in 2021 - Beryl in February, Beam in May, and Voi, Tier, Spin, and Getaround the following months ending with Lime in July. This latest deal affected 20 countries and 117 cities including the United States, South America, Australia, and Europe.

FreeNow started first with the integration of its own Hive brand (now defunct), as well as VOI, BOND, Emmy, and MILES in 2020. In the first half of 2021, it continued with adding Tier and Cooltra, in 2022 - Zipp Mobility. 

With big players constantly joining Google Maps and Moovit, these platforms have become MaaS trip planning solutions. The only difference is that it is not possible to pay for the trip via these services so they are not classical MaaS solutions. However, they offer a huge benefit in the form of an extensive user database, as well as users’ habits to plan their trips via these platforms. More reach means more customers. And another important benefit for micro-mobility service providers using MaaS solutions is cross-promo possibilities.

GBFS data - future of city planning 

It is in the interests of many parties involved to make micro-mobility data available, so there are organizations that focus on that. What this means for you as a service provider - you can spend weeks integrating with each app-aggregator such as Google, or you can use the standard approach by GBFS. This offers the opportunity to join any app aggregator (Google, Movit, city apps) in a few days with no coding at all. And it doesn't matter what micro-mobility service you are providing.

What is GBFS? It is a leading global initiative created by NABSA - North America Bikeshare and Scootershare Association. GBFS is General Bikeshare Feed Specification. A team of bike-share system owners and operators, application developers, and technology vendors developed GBFS and it was later adopted by over 600 bike-share and scooter systems worldwide. The latest version was released in April 2021.

GBFS defines a common format to share the real-time status of a shared mobility system. The purpose of data specification is to enable the exchange of information between multiple parties in a manner that ensures that all parties agree on what the information represents. The GBFS format allows mobility data to be used by a range of software applications for trip planning, research, analysis, visualization, and regulation. This publicly available data allows regulators, researchers, and community members to gain insights that have helped municipalities meet their goals.

GBFS includes information about vehicles (bicycles, scooters, moped, and cars), stations, dock locations, and availability. There is also information about vehicle characteristics including their type of power and the distance that can be traveled on the remaining charge. Geofenced areas are also included in this set of information, i.e. data about rules related to speed, parking, and prohibited zones.

So what's in the data available for the city? If we specifically talk about information about cars, it is now possible to quickly convert car trips to electric vehicle trips. Questionnaire data in the US shows that this occurs with approximately 30% of all rides. If this is too specific for you, bear in mind that any insights are potentially going to provide the opportunity to optimize the city’s infrastructure and help to make the city more user-friendly and sustainable. And as we all know, this and any other innovations will most likely help to grow the city’s reputation worldwide. 

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