According to the European Commission, the European transport sector has to deliver a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 whilst at the same time providing affordable, accessible, safe and clean transport solutions. Mobility as a Service or MaaS  is acknowledged by the EU Green Deal and recently published Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, as an answer to this demand with its significant emission reduction potential and offering of all-inclusive services to meet European mobility needs. On 4 February, MaaS Alliance organised an online debate with European Parliament and European Commission representatives and stakeholders from the mobility sector to discuss priorities and future steps to implement MaaS across the European Union.

Jacob Bangsgaard, ERTICO CEO and MaaS Alliance President opened the debate presenting an overview of the past, present and future of MaaS.

“Five years ago, when the MaaS Alliance was first created, we had a simple concept put together by a few organisations on how to best serve users in a more sustainable and inclusive manner. Now we see these first real-life businesses taking shape all around the world and we see how much more MaaS can concretely do for greener, more efficient and fairer mobility for all. The fantastic progress made with MaaS in Europe over the past few years is also very much linked to the efforts of European legislators in removing barriers and therefore supporting, on the one hand, the development of integrated multimodal services and, on the other, the interoperability of these solutions. We really hope to continue this productive collaboration.”

He also explained the expectations of the MaaS Alliance, when it comes to regulation; MaaS should set the framework for an open ecosystem to benefit users. In practice that would need fair competition (including access to the resale of tickets); further availability of data and the creation of incentives for data sharing; and support for sustainable mobility behaviour and optimised mobility mix with incentives. He also mentioned also that regulation should remain business model and technology neutral, as also highlighted by MEP Henna Virkkunen.

The event was co-hosted by MEP Henna Virkkunen (EPP), who has greatly supported MaaS from its early days and is currently working with a dense portfolio on mobility, digitalisation and energy  in the Parliament’s ITRE and TRAN committees.

“There is a pressing need to make transport safer, cleaner, multimodal and more efficient. Concepts such as Mobility-as-a-Service, powered by innovation, digitalisation, automation and connectivity, offer huge opportunities for this. If we allow for new ideas and innovations to flourish, Europe can be the world leader in smart, sustainable and multimodal mobility.”

She also mentioned that support for green and digital transition is prioritised now in terms of funding and there are good opportunities available through EU’s Recovery Funds, CEF and Horizon Europe and its missions, encouraging also local level innovation.

From the European Commission, Richard Szostak (Principal Adviser for Digitalisation, DG MOVE) presented the Commission’s strategic priorities in building green, digital and resilient economies; according to Mr Szostak, MaaS is serving all those objectives and therefore it plays an important role in European’s future mobility. The Commission looks to support the development of this novel sector by making more transport data available and with a governance framework that creates a level playing field and directs MaaS towards the Green Deal. From him, there was also a clear message to MaaS sector: the European Commission is on board to create more opportunities for this innovative sector but the industry need to prove the environmental and economical sustainability of the business.

The debate also looked at the business aspects of MaaS with interventions from leading organisations in the MaaS sector: Krista Huhtala-Jenks from MaaS Global, Eric Mink from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, and Carme Fabregas from ATM Barcelona. Krista Huhtala-Jenks presented MaaS in the context of the EU’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and the importance of respecting and serving the needs of the users and that it is also a precondition for wider user uptake. Eric Mink presented the work and progresses carried out in the Netherlands to facilitate cooperation between stakeholders and the creation of ecosystems and data standards for MaaS. Carme Fabregas highlighted the role of public transport in supporting the digital transformation of the sector and expected benefits and challenges for the public transport sector in MaaS.

The session was moderated by Piia Karjalainen, Secretary General of the MaaS Alliance. Her recently published blog post summarises the expectations and priorities of the MaaS Alliance when it comes to creating a functional environment and a good regulatory framework for MaaS in Europe.

In her concluding remarks, she emphasised that the MaaS Alliance will continue its work in supporting mobility innovations and development of the sector, in collaboration with the legislators. This can be done by building trust within the sectors involved with a business  and technology neutral approach; by preparing a guidance for assessment of the environmental impacts of MaaS; by coordinating initiatives towards more interoperable systems and sustainable business models; and finally, by advocating a data-positive regulation that enables innovations and creation of an open and competitive market.

The presentations as available below:

MaaS Alliance resources: