Open Transport enables a better approach to MaaS

One (and perhaps the foremost) aim of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is to put the travelling customer at the core of the service and offer them tailor-made mobility solutions based on their specific needs.

2 very different approaches:
To do this effectively MaaS requires one of two approaches to customer data:

  1. An aggregated approach:
    The customer needs to have all their mobility data residing in the same place (e.g. a centralised online service). Meaning that every transport provider in that mobility ecosystem then needs to be part of a single MaaS Platform.
  2. A federated approach:
    The customer allows their data residing in a number of different places (e.g. multiple online transport provider accounts) to share enough so that a complete picture of their transportation purchases and usage can be constructed.

To-date most MaaS efforts and initiatives have used the aggregated approach. This typically means a transport authority selects a single vendor for an entire geographic or legislative region and combines each participating transport provider’s data into a single database. The customer therefore has one account to access, view and use all this data.

However, this aggregated approach has several possible down-sides:

  1. The participating transport providers are mainly restricted to public transit services such as rail, bus and subway.
  2. Private operators, such as taxis, micro-mobility services and commercial cycle hire schemes tend not to be included (either because they do not want to be or because the barriers-to-entry are too high)
  3. The participating providers typically do not have a direct relationship with their customers, they are simply part of a wider service.
  4. Any vendor in a monopolistic position of running a large Maas Platform is less likely to innovate or invest in developing their product
  5. The boundary (area of responsibility) of the MaaS platform is restricted by the reach of the transport authority, not by the journeys the customers want to make.

A different approach
Open Transport, by providing a free standard for mobility account interoperability enables a federated approach instead. Transport providers adopting this Open Standard not only mean their customers can integrate a number of different accounts they own, but can then chose to manage this data in the account of their choice (e.g. the one that gives them the most useful or feature-rich experience).

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