In terms of differences in MaaS offerings, one of the main factors is regulation is made on a national basis but the tendering of a service is done on a local level, meaning cities are responsible for the deployment of MaaS,” he explains. “The national government can say ‘we want to go to the right’ and the cities can say ‘well, that's nice but we want to go to left and we can do that, because we are responsible for MaaS and we are responsible for accessibility to MaaS’.”
Hellemans’ insistence that MaaS must remain user-centric is clear.
“How can we provide users with a proposition to go from A to B? What mobility providers’ services are there? If there's public transport, that's great, but how can we influence public transport to make sure that people are using it, or to lower the barriers to using it? We need to create accessibility to mobility for everyone but the real question is, what do you want to achieve with the output of MaaS?”
Just as pressing an issue for Hellemans and the MaaS Alliance is the ownership of MaaS.
How can we provide users with a proposition to go from A to B? What mobility providers’ services are there? If there's public transport, that's great, but how can we influence public transport to make sure that people are using it?
“Who owns MaaS is a big question - we believe that public authorities should take the lead, to make sure that they can achieve what they're responsible for and that's creating a better accessibility in and to cities. All mobility providers, all service providers and all partners who are linked into the MaaS ecosystem should connect in such a way that they can collaborate to achieve these goals. Spain is good example. Spain just launched a new MaaS app and the goal is revenue - they don't want to lose business, they don't want to lose customers, they want to increase the proposition they provide the current customers to make sure that they remain as customers.”
Providing travellers with a wide, yet feasible, set of mobility options is the idealistic but achievable goal for MaaS Alliance.
“We’re talking about full integration between policymaking and the deployment of operations, and that's where you want to be. So for example, if we want to provide mobility to all the people living in a city, to all the people who are going to that city or all the people who are working in the city, the real end users who are making the decision and who are paying for that service, the real output should be offering them the choice of don't go by car, go by public transport, or don't even go by public transport, but go by shared mobility or active mobility or walk, because that's the best way to influence sustainability,” he explains passionately.
The biggest challenge that the MaaS sector has is, perhaps, the creation of a good alternative to the car.
“That's the real issue,” agrees Hellemans. “The transformation from owning a car to not owning one and using the mobility options that are out there is what MaaS should be about. The pandemic showed that we need to improve our services and we need to improve the information on a social level as well, and make it reliable, accessible and easy to use. If it's not going to be that way, people will stay in their cars.”
So, how do the major players in the Mobility as a Service game ensure that they are making a difference, and a positive difference at that?
“We have learned to align to make sure that we can provide a better proposition in all countries. That's also something that's not only in the Netherlands, where I’m from, but I have seen evidence in every country in Europe that they are really working together to make sure that public transport, which is the backbone of MaaS, is a viable option.”
The MaaS Alliance’s mission statement is to continue creating the right output for all players and to keep on facilitating the right conditions to connect, share and exchange knowledge on the Open MaaS Ecosystem.
“We invite all players to collaborate and work together in the open MaaS ecosystem to serve end users,” says Hellemans . “We will keep on collaborating and be the catalyst of the output of MaaS in good times and tough times.”