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The route is built: prospects for the development of MaaS in Moscow and other megacities of the world

December 1, 2020, 11:00 (UTC+3)|

At the beginning of November Moscow authorities announced plans to launch a MaaS-platform (Mobility-as-a-Service, “mobility as a service”) in the city; it will combine all city and several private transport services. By the end of 2021, the concept of multimodality will be implemented, which means that types of transport will be combined in a single digital space, and routes and fares will be personalised for users.

This ambition of Moscow corresponds to the global trend in the field of transport - gradual implementation of MaaS concept in the city. Analysts confirm this. Verified Market Research predicts the growth of the global Mobility-as-a-Service market from $49.7 billion in 2019 to $271.7 billion in 2027, and the forecast of Market Research Future is even more positive: growth at an average annual rate of 38.9% till 2024, when the market value reaches $484.2 billion.

Two years ago ICT.Moscow conducted a study entitled “Smart Mobility today and tomorrow” and identified a number of transport services of the future: route planning using AI, combining different types of trips and personalized loyalty programs. The study of international experience and city plans shows that today these services of the future are gradually becoming a reality.

To understand the current state of things and the prospects for the development and application of MaaS in the world, ICT.Moscow studied the experience of the development of this concept by megacities of the world, and also discussed its key features and barriers with Russian experts. Representatives of the Department for Transport and Road Infrastructure Development of Moscow, McKinsey consulting company, which in 2018 published the “Elements of success: Urban transportation systems of 24 global cities” study, and representatives of specialized companies - Urbantech, Arendata, SPC “BiznesAvtomatika” - shared their opinion.

Not just a trend, but a necessity 

Nowadays MaaS is perceived as a new and promising approach to urban mobility development. On the one hand, this is stated in the current transport strategies of those cities that were on top of the ranking compiled by McKinsey as part of the 2018 study (in particular, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chicago, Melbourne). For example, according to Melbourne’s 2030 transport strategy, “all modes of transport should function as a seamless system through communication technology”.

On the other hand, this trend is also confirmed by experts, representatives of consulting and specialised business.

Of course, the role of MaaS in the development of urban transport systems will only grow. Especially now, during the global pandemic. It is acknowledged that COVID-19 accelerated the pace of digitalisation in all sectors for several years ahead, and urban transport was no exception. MaaS allows, for instance, to plan a trip taking into account all safety parameters.

Vadim Pokotilo 

Partner, McKinsey & Company, head of the expert group for travel, transport and logistics in Russia and the CIS

Roman Dzvinko, Chief Executive of BiznesAvtomatika Scientific and Production Center, a company that develops integrated information systems and information security tools, believes that the introduction of MaaS into the transport infrastructures of megacities is not only an important, but a necessary step.

Large cities such as Moscow, New York, London, Beijing, etc., need a developed public transport infrastructure. For its further development MaaS platform is undoubtedly an important stage.

Roman Dzvinko

Chief Executive of BiznesAvtomatika SPC

One of the advantages of MaaS is the potential benefit both for the operator of such a platform and for the end user. Egor Popov, investment director of Skolkovo Ventures, writes about this in his article for RBC: he says that the company that owns the MaaS system will provide a higher receipt for each trip, while the user’s expenses will be reduced.

Evgeny Nikolaev from Urbantech names the reason why it makes sense to talk about the introduction of MaaS platforms in the transport networks of megacities today - it is the readiness of the IT infrastructure.

It is not just software, but a new organizational model focused on the quality of transport service. Modern solutions for analytics and planning, public transport dispatching, intelligent traffic control systems have reached such a level of development when all those disparate technological solutions and services that are available in the market both in Russia and in the world can interact among themselves and make transport system management more efficient.

Evgeny Nikolaev

Director of Partnerships and Investments, Urbantech

Speaking about the “fragmentation of solutions and services”, we need to understand that within the framework of the MaaS concept, they are divided into two main groups: services developed by cities, and those developed by private companies in the IT sector. Vadim Pokotilo from McKinsey uses Google, Moovit, Whim as examples of private MaaS developments, and also Yandex among the Russian ones. He adds that in almost every large city, especially among those featured in the benchmark study (Singapore, London, Hong Kong), there are popular urban MaaS applications.  Such examples can indeed be found in a number of world megacities: My Transport in Singapore, HKeMobility in Hong Kong, s'hail in Dubai.

Each application has strengths and weaknesses. It is obvious that a technology company has serious advantages, such as the presence of core competencies, development teams, UX/UI (interface design), and the company’s own marketing competencies. These strengths simultaneously act as constraints for urban MaaS systems.

Vadim Pokotilo 

Partner, McKinsey & Company, head of the expert group for travel, transport and logistics in Russia and the CIS

The expert calls the availability of more relevant information (for instance, about the traffic situation), as well as the availability of an integrated payment system, as the advantages of urban MaaS applications.

Unified data platform

A unified MaaS platform of any city is based on a large amount of scattered data from different sources. In particular, Deloitte analysts mention the issue of integrating data from different systems as one of the main issues for developers and operators of MaaS platforms. Experts interviewed by ICT.Moscow, including Elena Ustyugova from Arenadata, vendor of data collection and storage platforms, speak about the same challenge.

To build a route, it is enough to know the schedule and coordinates of the transport. The main challenge here is to promptly receive and process information from motion sensors and transmit this information to consumer systems. The vehicles must be equipped with sensors. The implementation of a more complex scenario, for example, to buy a single ticket from point A to point B will already require the exchange of payment data. If we consider long distance trips, then the personal data of the passenger will be also required.

Elena Ustyugova

Senior System Integration Analyst, Arenadata

The representative of the international MaaS Alliance Garance Lefevre says that for the successful development of MaaS it is necessary to establish data transfer not only from the city to the private sector (within their services), but also vice versa - from private companies to the city. This information will help to more effectively regulate the transport sector: for example, to determine the further development of infrastructure.

Hence, a number of world megacities are focused on creating centralized platforms for data exchange. Hong Kong’s Department of Transport in its strategy initiates the development of an open urban big data platform that collects information from various sources, including transport companies. The use of mobile devices with the HKeMobility application involves the collection of data on user movements, which are then used for more efficient traffic management.

Some strategies imply that the data collection initiative should come from the business and the city should provide a regulatory framework. For example, the authorities of Chicago plan to support the creation of integrated services, encourage developers to create new applications, and also make the creation of such applications an additional condition for licensing carrier companies. They also plan to develop “common, detailed and secure requirements for data exchange” between public and private actors in the transport industry.

The quality of systems of this level is determined by the accuracy of the planned and real time of the route. It increases consumer confidence, no one will use the system if its calculations are far from reality. To implement a system with complex dependencies machine analysis of large amounts of information is required. Such problems are solved by data platforms, where data integrated from various sources are stored, processed and analyzed. Such systems have to maintain a large number of simultaneous connections.

Elena Ustyugova

Senior System Integration Analyst, Arenadata

Simple payment for a difficult route

Another key feature of a successful MaaS platform is a seamless ticketing system.

For the user experience this is an extremely important parameter that IT companies often lack. There are several significant infrastructural, technological, legal and organizational constraints for this. Therefore, almost nowhere a user will be able to use a non-urban application to build a route around the city and pay right away, while city applications allow to do this.

One of the few applications from technology companies in which the payment system is integrated is Whim. It operates in Finland, and there the city has the prerogative of integrating payment with building a multimodal route.

Vadim Pokotilo 

Partner, McKinsey & Company, head of the expert group for travel, transport and logistics in Russia and the CIS

The integration of payment services into urban MaaS is one of the key priorities for many world megacities. For instance, Amsterdam plans to develop MaaS superapp functions by 2023, at first it will not be launched in the entire city, but only in one of the business districts.

At this level, we can already talk about certain personalization, when the system automatically determines the fare for the trip depending on the route and the vehicles used. In Hamburg a system called Check-In/Be-Out is being developed; the amount of payment for a trip in the system will be determined based on the user’s route using geolocation.

Moscow has similar plans. In September, Maxim Liksutov, the head of the Moscow Department for Transport and Road Infrastructure Development, explained how the platform would be developed in the near future.

We are currently trying to provide an opportunity for paying for the trip with a single receipt. For example, you went by metro, then used car sharing - and then you pay the total cost in the application. In the application you will also be able to immediately book a car from different operators. We hope to implement this feature next year.

Maxim Liksutov

Deputy Mayor of Moscow

At the same time, transport tariffs will be personalized in order to enable users to choose routes depending on convenient tariffs. 

The Moscow Department for Transport and Road Infrastructure Development told ICT.Moscow, that in order to implement this concept, the ticketing system had had to be built practically from scratch.

In order for MaaS to operate flawlessly in Moscow, it was necessary to carry out a huge preparatory work - to create IT-infrastructure, integrate many services into it, create new ones. In our case, the entire ticketing system had to be rebuilt. We did all this, but an extremely important and difficult stage is still not finished - the integration only city services, but also services of private transport operators, Internet aggregators, bicycle and scooter rental services into the system. Now each of them has their own application, their own website, which allows them to control the entire process, but for users it is not very convenient to have multiple systems.

Moscow Department for Transport and Road Infrastructure Development

Press service

The Moscow MaaS is currently being built on the basis of the “Moscow Transport” and “Moscow Metro” applications. The principle of multimodality has already been implemented in the first one, this principle implies the construction of complex routes using different types of urban transport, and ticketing system has already been partially integrated (it is possible to recharge the Troika card). Micromobility services are included separately - the ability to rent bicycles and electric scooters and to use car sharing services. However, there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of the development of these functions - not only in Moscow, but also in other world megacities.

The last barrier for adopting MaaS

The integration of the maximum number of participants in the transport segment is also one of the priorities in many strategies of megacities, which is already being partially implemented.

The Chicago program is supposed to create a MaaS-service based on Ventra transport application, to which a bicycle rental network would be connected, and also an electric scooter rental service has already been launched. In Hamburg a combined sharing application Switchh developed by different companies is already operating, and it partially implements the concept of a single MaaS platform. In the future it will be integrated into the official HVV transport application. Some cities are also planning to launch personalized bus traffic as part of MaaS projects. In Hamburg in 2019 Moia project was launched, it combines the functions of a taxi (ordering via the smartphone app) and buses (rides with other passengers).

However, it is still far from full-scale implementation: experts highlight a fundamental barrier that cities and companies will have to overcome to create a full-fledged MaaS.

First of all, it is all about taxis, car-sharing companies, bicycles, bikes, etc. But it is taxi and car sharing, and also reaching agreements with them on building joint APIs and deep integration, that are very important elements of the MaaS system. Deep integration means, for instance, the ability to complete a trip on public transport and change to a taxi without switching to another application.

Integration almost always ends not at a deep level, but within the framework of a link: you can build a route, the algorithm works, but then to travel the last (or first) mile by taxi, you need to switch to another application. The situation everywhere looks like this, and this is a fundamental barrier that limits the development of MaaS.

Vadim Pokotilo 

Partner, McKinsey & Company, head of the expert group for travel, transport and logistics in Russia and the CIS

Roman Dzvinko, Chief Executive of BiznesAvtomatika Scientific and Production Center, shares the same point of view. 

There are certain economic, administrative and technical difficulties. For example, large taxi aggregators already have their own mobile services. Consequently, it is not yet clear how the taxi market participants will react to the initiative of the Moscow Department for Transport and Road Infrastructure Development, because a conflict of interests is possible, and it will cause complications for creating a single application for purchasing public transport services.

Roman Dzvinko

Chief Executive of BiznesAvtomatika SPC

Moscow Department for Transport and Road Infrastructure Development expects to overcome this barrier next year: in early November, the head of the department, Maxim Liksutov, reported that it was planned to complete the integration of urban and private transport services into a single MaaS-platform by the end of 2021. A representative of the Moscow Department for Transport and Road Infrastructure Development told ICT.Moscow what the inclusion in Moscow MaaS platform would give to mobility services companies.

We are ready to consider all the services that provide mobility services in Moscow. We do not introduce any restrictions - the main thing is that the service is technically ready for integration with the MaaS-platform.

Inclusion into the capital’s MaaS-platform will allow development companies to gain access to popular transport services in Moscow using the SaaS (service as a service) model. For example, the service of road traffic network congestion, road closures, forecast of bus arrival at stops and many others. Users of all types of urban mobility services should have common information.

With the help of the city application, operators and carriers can get new opportunities to promote their services to a large audience. Also, due to the quality and availability within the platform, an equal competitive environment for participants will be created.

Moscow Department for Transport and Road Infrastructure Development

Press service

Private transport services from Yandex and Citymobil are gradually being integrated into the “Moscow Transport” application. At the same time, the executive director of Citymobil Vitaly Bedarev in mid-November announced readiness to further integrate with the Moscow public transport.

There are also examples in the world of overcoming difficulties with the integration of private companies into urban MaaS services. Vadim Pokotilo from McKinsey reported about one of the most successful ones to ICT.Moscow. He cited Helsinki as an example, the experience of this city (the success of which is confirmed by the fact that this is where the private application Whim operates with an already integrated payment system) can start a global trend.

Some cities (for example, Helsinki) have legislated these requirements. They issued a law that obliges all actors to integrate into the MaaS platform because it allows to improve the client experience. Therefore, I believe that similar actions can be expected from other cities.

Of course, there is a counterargument from technology companies: there is a threat of losing a share of the business. But if the user experience and the efficiency of the transport system are central focus, then such an ambitious approach as in Helsinki, at the legislative level, can be seen as more efficient due to incentives. The city gives preferences to many companies (for example, the right to free parking for car-sharing services).

Vadim Pokotilo 

Partner, McKinsey & Company, head of the expert group for travel, transport and logistics in Russia and the CIS

According to analysts, no company can overcome these barriers alone. Last year’s KPMG report “Mobility 2030: Transforming the mobility landscape” explicitly states that only the consolidation of companies from different sectors would allow the MaaS concept to be developed. The International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences (IATSS) made the same conclusion in its last year’s trend report on the MaaS regulatory challenges. Using Finland as an example, the authors demonstrate that both the private sector (systems development) and the authorities (regulatory developments) should act as  drivers for MaaS. Analysts also emphasize that for now the implementation of the MaaS concept in the world is at its initial stage, in the future it will change the global approach to urban mobility.

There are no specific forecasts about how the development of MaaS will be affected by COVID-19. Deloitte believes that a significant increase in the presence of the private sector in transport systems through partnerships with the government is one of the possible scenarios: this should also boost the development of MaaS.

You can share your opinion on the prospects of MaaS in Moscow and other cities of Russia and the world by sending it to

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