Can Pittsburgh be successful with its new integrated mobility system where Finland, the birthplace of the so-called Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concept, failed?
The experts David Zipper spoke to for Bloomberg CityLab believe there are challenges.
In 2015, Sampo Hietanen founded MaaS Global, the Helsinki-based startup behind Whim, a platform that offers à la carte tickets or packaged mobility subscriptions. But Whim has argued with HSL, the Helsinki region’s transport authority, which has its own ticketing app. Add in the pandemic and the MaaS concept has stalled.
Aside from Whim’s particular problems, Zipper writes that the industry may simply not be viable:
“As I argued in Bloomberg CityLab, it’s difficult to build a viable business that accumulates tiny commissions from individual trips that cost just a few pounds or dollars each. Other MaaS models are possible, such as selling services to employers rather than individuals or licensing a MaaS platform to transport companies. But it is not clear whether these models were more effective in effecting the mode change away from driving. “
Philippe Crist, innovation advisor at the International Transport Forum of the OECD, tells Zipper that MaaS needs a “transparent governance structure that prevents transport companies and private companies from falling into a spiral of dysfunction”.
This could be a benefit for Pittsburgh as the city itself manages the program and has leverage with private sector participants through its exclusive permits. It also helps that Port Authority doesn’t compete with the program.
“Move PGH also offers ticketing for a wider range of mobility services than any previous US MaaS implementation: only the ride-hailing service is currently missing,” writes Zipper.
The Transit app connects Pittsburgh’s traditional public transportation like buses with new modes of transportation like electric scooters and mopeds into a single, easy-to-use system.
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