Post: Reflections on ICoMaaS 2017

Reflections on ICoMaaS 2017

The first international conference on Mobility as a Service (ICoMaaS) took place in Tampere, Finland 28.–29.11.2017. About 130 participants from nearly 20 countries attended the conference. The theme of the conference was identifying knowledge gaps and building bridges, which reflected the event’s mission to bring together business, authorities and scientific community.

The keynote presentations in the opening session by Teppo Rantanen from the City of Tampere, Martina Müggler from PostAuto Switzerland, and Moshe Givoni from Tel Aviv University, Israel, clearly pointed out that the different aspects related to MaaS need co-operation. A holistic view is needed to ensure that customer needs as well as societal needs and business viewpoints are addressed adequately. City of Tampere wants to be a forerunner among smart cities, and smart mobility is seen as an important part of the smart city Tampere. Mr Rantanen presented the many development areas and projects in Tampere in which the light rail route, currently under construction, is one of the backbones. Professor Givoni placed the question whether MaaS is more Mobility as a Business Service or Mobility as a Public Service as these two possibilities clearly have different goals and lead to different outcomes. For instance, car sharing can lead to diminishing use of public transport, which might be a negative outcome of the thought-to-be-positive change. As depicted by Ms Müggler, the experiences from Switzerland from building smooth travel chains are excellent, yet there are challenges in integration as e.g. some of the actors might be afraid of the possibility to compare service level and prices as well as losing a direct sales channel to customers.

The chair of the conference, Assistant Professor Heikki Liimatainen from Tampere University of Technology opening the seminar.

From the conference presentations, it could clearly be seen that MaaS has many definitions and interpretations. MaaS can be seen as an umbrella term and very similar to e.g. the concepts of integrated mobility services, combined mobility and mobility markets or mobility marketplace. For example, MaaS Alliance defines that MaaS “is the integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand”. There are several other definitions which stress partly different things as can be seen e.g. from the two presentations from Transport Research Centre Verne in the conference. Roni Utriainen presented the paper co-authored with Markus PöllänenReview on mobility as a service in scientific literature”. Markus Pöllänen presented the paper by Pöllänen, Utriainen and Riku Viri on ”Challenges in the paradigm change from mobility as a self-service to mobility as a service”.

The presentations of business papers and scientific papers as well as the vivid conversations during the event revealed that there has been a lot of MaaS related research projects and pilots recently. Currently, many services are being launched and even more are prepared to be launched soon. It was also delighting to see that many of these include linked research activities. This means that the experiences are piling up which enables more detailed analysis and assessment of MaaS, e.g. potential of MaaS in different operating environments (e.g. urban and rural areas) and the possible implications for transport systems. Still, there are wide gaps in knowledge, which emphasise the need for sharing the experiences and building a common understanding.

Keynote speakers of the closing session, Anne Berner, Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications and Jacob Bangsgaard, CEO of ERTICO and President of the MaaS Alliance, brought up the Finland’s strong role in MaaS. Minister Berner saw MaaS responding to different challenges, putting the users in a leading role instead of traditional public sector driven development. She also pointed out that MaaS solutions should not only be good for the users, but also for the society as a whole. Minister Berner stressed that legislation is a powerful tool to enable MaaS markets and new Finnish law on transport services, taking action gradually during 2018, aims to create seamless travel chains. Mr Bangsgaard had experienced that e.g. China, Korea and Japan as well as the car industry are very interested in MaaS. He also saw that MaaS has to be a better option than using the private car, and the users cannot be forced to change their behaviour. Additionally, mr Bangsgaard pointed out that MaaS could lead to revival of public transport.

Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner in the closing session of IcoMaaS.

Assistant Professor Heikki Liimatainen concluded the closing session as well as the conference by stating that there is a clear need to bring transport policy more into the MaaS discussions. How could MaaS be one of the tools for achieving more sustainable mobility? As this was the first international conference devoted to MaaS, there was already many wishes for continuing the conference series to a second ICoMaaS. If you have ideas or wishes on this, please contact icomaas@tut.fi.

The organising staff, Transport Research Centre Verne at Tampere University of Technology would like to thank all the presenters, chairs and participants for their contribution at the conference. We would like to thank also the conference committee and the collaborating organisations, Aalto University, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Transport Agency, ITS Finland, Forum Virium Helsinki, Kyyti and MaaS Australia. Special thanks goes to the staff at the Venue, Tampere Sokos Hotel Torni who made event very stylish and pleasant.