The idea of MaaS is well-established, a service which integrates multiple modes of transport while focusing on users’ preferences, enabling an end-to-end seamless journey from point A to point B and creating lucrative business opportunities for related players. However, bringing it to life seems a distant reality in India. It demands a leap of faith in public-private symbiosis, modern infrastructure underpinning and policy metamorphosis, write Preetesh Singh, Specialist CASE and Alternate Powertrains, and Raghav Mishra, Senior Consultant, NRI India
Mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) is a term that refers to the integration of various forms of transportation services into a single, user-friendly platform.
MaaS aims to make it easier for people to get from one place to another, reducing the need for individual car ownership and making transportation more convenient, efficient, and sustainable.
At the basic level, MaaS provides information about different transportation options. It allows users to plan and pay for their journeys. This level can include information about routes, schedules, and fares for various modes of transportation. At the next level, MaaS integrates multiple modes of transportation into a single trip, allowing users to switch between modes as needed. This level could involve using a combination of public transit, ride-hailing, and bike-sharing to complete a journey.
The highest level of MaaS integration involves fully integrated transportation systems, where all modes of transportation are seamlessly connected and available through a single platform or app. This level could include using a single payment system to access different ways of transportation or a single ticket or pass to access multiple modes of transportation. Fully integrated MaaS systems have the potential to provide users with a truly seamless and convenient transportation experience, making it easier and more convenient to travel around cities.
One of the main benefits of MaaS is that it offers individuals a more convenient and efficient transportation option. In addition, MaaS offers users cost savings as well. Users can save money on the costs associated with owning and maintaining a personal vehicle, including fuel, insurance, and maintenance. It also has the potential to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.
Another benefit of MaaS is that it can help to increase accessibility for individuals who may have difficulty accessing traditional forms of transportation.
In addition, MaaS can reduce the need for parking infrastructure and free up space for other uses.
Key Issues & Challenge
Owing to early stage of MaaS adoption in India, there are challenges like the need for standardized pricing and payment systems, the integration of various modes of transportation, and the role of government regulation in shaping the development of MaaS. MaaS must be integrated with existing public transit systems to be successful. Integration can be challenging because different systems have different technologies and operating models. MaaS requires significant investment in infrastructure, such as charging stations for electric vehicles and bike-sharing stations. There is also a need for ongoing funding to support operations and maintenance.
There are often regulatory barriers as well in implementation. MaaS relies on collecting and using personal data, which raises concerns about data privacy, the regulatory framework for MaaS in India is polycentric in nature and lacks an overarching framework that can guide & promote sustainable mobility.
One major challenge is the need for cooperation and coordination among different regulatory agencies, as MaaS often involves the integration of various modes of transportation. Another issue is the need to balance the benefits of MaaS with the potential impacts on traditional transportation providers such as taxi companies or public transportation systems. Lack of clarity about benefits can lead to resistance from these groups and the need to address their concerns through regulatory measures.
Additionally, there are often questions about data privacy and security regarding the use of technology in MaaS, as well as concerns around accessibility for users with disabilities.
Readiness In India
One of the key factors contributing to the readiness of MaaS in India is the growth of smartphone adoption and mobile internet usage. According to Statista’s forecast, the number of smartphone users in the country is expected to reach 1341 million by 2030, providing a large potential market for MaaS services. In addition, the Indian government has taken steps to support the development of MaaS. It includes providing financial incentives for deploying electric and hybrid vehicles and investing in developing smart city infrastructure.
There is a strong need for a robust data governance mechanism, supporting institutional structures and coherent data availability. It prompted the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to introduce indicators to help cities assess their preparedness in the above aspects.
The program became known as Data Maturity Assessment Framework. DMAF that we designed to help cities undergo a process of self-evaluation and embrace a data culture. It aims to assess the data readiness of 100 smart cities on a Systematic Pillar across five components – Policy, People, Process, Technology and Outcomes.
DMAF propagates the idea of helping municipalities to be better prepared for periodic self-evaluation through important key urban performance indicator sets proposed by the Government of India (such as the ‘Ease of Living Index’ and ‘Municipal Performance Index’). Of the 100 participating cities in the 2nd cycle of DMAF, 42 cities have been certified; the rest, 58 cities, have been designated as ‘Beginners’. Based on the final scores of the cities, the Government assigned a certification level to each city, with ‘Connected’ as the highest certification, followed by ‘Enabled’, ‘Explorer’, and ‘Initiator’.
Surat, Pimpri Chinchwad, Bhopal and Pune stood out as the top four ranked cities. A comparative study among the cities may be conducted to evaluate the towns based on their existing solutions, future plans and mobility data readiness. Below we discuss a few of the top critical initiatives undertaken in the top-ranked cities.
Surat has implemented a city-wide integrated system – “Intelligent Transit Management System” (ITMS), to manage a diverse set of transportation needs for the city, such as public transport and vehicles related to civic services like solid waste management, drainage, heavy engineering, emergency services and the like. ITMS integrates Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), city bus services, and a Vehicle Location System (VLS). The Passenger Information System (PIS) helps flash dynamic information on bus schedules and ETA.
During the pandemic, Bhopal and Pimpri Chinchwad converted their Smart City command and control center to a war room. Various technology solutions were designed and installed in the war room to facilitate better monitoring and management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Pune, The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has resorted to modern digital tools to prevent encroachment on its properties and to make comprehensive information readily available. Accordingly, the Estate and Management Department has completed the GIS Polygon mapping of 3,100 out of 3,600 properties with their concerned information.
Chennai, New Town Kolkata, Hyderabad, Nagpur and Jabalpur are other cities with a high mobility data readiness based on publishing a Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP), City Traffic Integrated Management System, Smart Cards and the like.
State transport authorities are crucial in determining a city’s operator-level readiness. State road transport corporations/metropolitan officers of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai are some bodies working actively towards a brighter mobility future.
State Transport Undertakings have undertaken various initiatives like cashless payments, integrated journey planners, vehicle tracking systems, common mobility cards and smart parking. In some cities, various government and private institutions work with the STUs/municipal corporations to tackle systemic transport-related issues.
Many international organizations, such as World Bank and Google, are also working on city-level projects. For example, Mysore and Bengaluru, respectively, are harnessing the power of data to develop transforming mobility solutions with the help of these organizations. As more and more public-private partnerships (PPP) are formed, India may expect state-of-the-art mobility solutions to seep into the mobility ecosystem.
One of the main drivers for the growth of MaaS in India has been the proliferation of ride-hailing services such as Ola and Uber. They disrupted the traditional taxi industry and made it easier for people to book rides on demand.
In addition to ride-hailing, the mobility service market in India has also seen the emergence of other innovative transportation options, such as bike-sharing, electric scooters etc. These services offer consumers more flexibility and convenience.
The growth has also been aided by the country’s expanding middle class, by the government the option of alternative modes of transportation through initiatives such as the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan and the FAME India Scheme.
The Mobility Services market includes flights, Ride-hailing & Taxi services, long-distance bus travel and train tickets that are booked online and offline as well as car rental hires, car-sharing, services, bike-sharing services, e-scooter-sharing and public transportation. Carpools, chauffeur services, and ferries are not included in the Mobility Services market.
Potential Business Models
Fundamentally, there could be two primary business models to enter the mobility service market in India. However, the risk uptake and expected returns vary across the business route adopted. Risk uptake is an integral part of business models, as it reflects the willingness of a company to take on risks in order to maximize returns. Companies that may be willing to take on risks are more likely to generate returns in the MaaS ecosystem in the long term. The various factors that can influence a company’s risk update include the nature of applicable MaaS market, the size of the company, and the level of existing competition.
Smart Cities could play a crucial role in developing and implementing MaaS solutions. Smart cities can leverage their advanced technology and data analytics capabilities to optimize traffic flow. They can identify areas where MaaS solutions can most effectively reduce congestion. MaaS can also help smart cities to better serve underserved areas and populations.
Source: NRI White Paper – The Leap towards Mobility as a Services; Service: Identifying the challenges & opportunities in India