What is MaaS (Mobility as a Service), and when will it start in Australia? Find out more, along with info about our MaaS projects, plus all of our articles and stories on the topic.

What is MaaS?

The easiest part of defining MaaS is that it’s an acronym, the abbreviated form of Mobility as a Service.

Now to the trickier part, describing what it is. Or, perhaps more correctly, what it might be. Though there have been numerous attempts at a partial MaaS, in its ideal form it is still very much an idea. And that is true of Australia. It isn’t here yet, but Australians do have a desire for it, as shown in the iMOVE project, the MaaS and On-Demand Transport – Consumer Research and Report.

But what is *the* ideal form MaaS will take? It will allow a person to easily plan their travel from A to B, via as many, or as few, transport modes as possible. A traveller might have the options of choosing the quickest, cheapest, easiest, or most scenic journey. Perhaps ‘least stressful’ could be an option.

It will be both bookable and payable via a single app, and that one app will guide the traveller on their journey. Although there may indeed be several transit points, and several transport modes, journeys taken by customers put their desired outcome front and centre.

What modes of transport are available in MaaS?

Again, in a perfect MaaS world, all available transport modes will be in the mix for customers. That could be bus, train, ferry, tram, ride sharing, bike sharing, e-bikes, car hire, taxi, on-demand public transport, electric scooter, rickshaw, Segway, walking … the higher the number of modes, the more flexibility there is for customers, and the more attractive the system for both customers and providers.

It will include both public and private transport. Service providers will have to be willing to enter into a shared accounting system in order to be paid for its share of the services provided.

Crucially, these providers must be willing to share their data. If the trip is to be as seamless as possible, if delays or issues along a route need to be conveyed to the customer, if the system is to be of optimal efficiency, effectiveness, and convenience, then data MUST be shared.

Without shared data it is again the separate networks competing for primacy, rather than putting customers as the core concern.

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The Sydney MaaS trial

Sydney MaaS trial - FINAL REPORT

Sydney MaaS trial: Design, implementation, lessons, the future

The MaaS trial in Sydney project, running since April 2019, has concluded, and a final report on the project has been published. That report is downloadable from this link.

How will customers pay for MaaS?

Before we get into payment options, let’s revisit the definition of MaaS. The best one we’ve come across is this, from Cubic Transportation’s white paper, Mobility as a Service: Putting Transit Front and Center of the Conversation:

… a combination of public and private transportation services within a given regional environment that provides holistic, optimal and people-centred travel options, to enable end-to-end journeys paid by the user as a single charge, and which aims to achieve public equity objectives.

That single charge could be:

• A pay-as-you-go charge for a single trip, or a single week/month
• A weekly/monthly subscription charge

The subscriptions could be offered as numerous product bundles, varying from an ‘all you can meet’, to others with a smaller choice of transport modes available.

The benefits of MaaS

As we’ve noted above, the prime benefit of MaaS is to make commuting easy, enjoyable, and efficient for customers. Shared data will also bring efficiencies and custom for providers.

And if all of that is achieved, a major side benefit of MaaS is a reduction in the use of private cars. Particularly that primary driver of traffic congestion, the single occupant car. Other side benefits? Less congestion equals greater road safety, a reduction in air pollution, and reduction in feelings of stress by commuters.

If done well, MaaS will also see an increase in active transport and senses of community. Studies have also shown that where there is a rise in active transport there is an accompanying lift in local commerce.

MaaS will be good for commuters, community, and commerce. It might not be available in Australia yet, but it is coming!

Video: Sydney MaaS trial – Final outcomes

MaaS facts and figures

From the Sydney MaaS trial

  • The majority of the people that signed up for the trial were frequent users of both public transport and private cars. This supports the notion that multi-modal travellers are more interested in MaaS than others, and contradicts the fear that MaaS does not appeal to car owners and frequent car users.
  • Although 82% of the people that registered interest for the trial had daily access to private cars, 17% of the participants reported that the experience of the trial changed their view of car ownership and 82% would have purchased the trialled offering if it became available after the trial. This indicates that the trialled service has potential to reduce car ownership, although the behaviour change was limited during the trial.
  • A will to support the development of a service that might help their employer and make the transportation system more sustainable was a main motivation for signing up for the trial, followed by a curiosity about MaaS and how the trialled MaaS service could increase their awareness of personal travel behaviour and improve its sustainability.

From the ODIN PASS trial

  • Starting in July 2021, by September 2022 10,000 of the passes had been purchased.
  • By May 2023 1 million public transport trips had been taken using the ODIN PASS.
  • ODIN PASS users surveyed said, “With 51 per cent of participants saying they were more likely to use public transport, and 54 per cent deciding to leave their car at home, MaaS has the potential to dramatically change the way Queenslanders access public transport services.”

iMOVE MaaS projects

transport network options diagram

Building trust and collaboration among MaaS stakeholders

This University of Sydney PhD project is investigating the factors that would build and improve trust and collaboration among stakeholders. The methodology involves two key phases:

  • Phase I uses the Constructivist Grounded Theory Method (CGTM) applied to the cases of Whim in Helsinki, Finland and Tripi in Sydney, Australia.
  • Phase II uses Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) building on the constructs and themes explored through phase I.

Find out more about the project at Building trust and collaboration among MaaS stakeholders


ODIN PASS: A Mobility as Service trial at UQ

The Department of Transport and Main Roads and The University of Queensland are actively exploring how Mobility as a Service (MaaS) schemes can enhance personal mobility locally, with a particular focus on increasing public and active transport patronage. The data collected through this project will be used to assess whether a sustainable business model for MaaS exists locally and enable the concept to be explored in further areas across Queensland.

Find out more about the project at ODIN PASS: A Mobility as Service trial at UQ

Sydney transport network map

MaaS business models: Lessons for operators and regulators

This project will produce an evidence-based report that provides a summary of expected outcomes from MaaS under different policy and regulatory scenarios; identify commercial opportunities for different actors in the public and private sector across the MaaS ecosystem; and recommend pragmatic actions for public sector organisations such as Transport for NSW to enable and regulate MaaS.

Find out more about the project at MaaS business models: Lessons for operators and regulators

Sydney George Street tram lines pedestrians cycling

MaaS trial in Sydney

Our second MaaS project. This one is a 6-month trial of Mobility as a Service, in which eligible participants who work, live, and travel in the Greater Sydney area will arrange their everyday travel needs through a MaaS app linked to subscription plans.

Find out more about the project at MaaS trial in Sydney or at the May 2020 update on the project at Mobility as a Service: Progress and new insights from an Australian trial.

ITSA MaaS Project Image

MaaS and on-demand transport – Consumer research and report

iMOVE already has one MaaS-related project, in fact it’s our first completed project. In it we surveyed people, looking to find out only what their desire was for MaaS, but also what they knew about it.

Find out more about the project at:

iMOVE articles and news stories about MaaS