The business of Mobility as a Service: A project update


This is an update on the completed iMOVE project, MaaS business models: lessons for operators and regulators, or to give the project its full name, MaaS business models: Emerging business models in the digital economy, and lessons for Mobility as a Service (MaaS) operators and regulators.

Participants in this project were Transport for NSW, University of South Australia, and the University of Sydney.

Main objectives

  1. Examine the opportunities and challenges raised by MaaS in metropolitan and regional NSW from the perspective of consumers, businesses and government
  2. Identify emerging business models for the provision of MaaS
  3. Determine the key barriers to the emergence of MaaS in different contexts
  4. Recommend pragmatic actions for public sector organisations, notably Transport for NSW, to enable and regulate MaaS

The importance of MaaS

Mobility as a Service offers opportunities for consumers, government, and society in general. Public transport will be a key component of any MaaS ecosystem, and operators of public transport and transport infrastructure will play a key role in all facets of the development of MaaS.

In the case of NSW:

MaaS has been identified as a key component of New South Wales’ future transport vision by the 40-year plan outlined in Future Transport Strategy 2056 , and the 10-year roadmap articulated in Future Transport Technology Roadmap. MaaS can also support the six state-wide outcomes identified by Future Transport Strategy 2056 to guide investment, policy and reform, and service provision in the state.

For consumers, there’s the convenience of being able to plan, book and pay for travel using different services through a single app. Along with convenience, cost savings are expected, via discounts and bundles transport offerings. A final point, it is expected that this bundling, connecting, and discounting of the cost of transport will increase transport equity for the disadvantaged.

Last but not least when talking benefits, it is the great hope, expectation even, that a healthy, broad, well-used MaaS will lead to reduced road congestion, and reduced pollution.

Business models

Now we come to the true crux of this project, business models for MaaS. Three broad models of business were identified:

  1. Brokered platform
  2. Walled gardens
  3. Open marketplace

The definitions, attractiveness, and challenges for each of these is laid out in the project’s Executive Summary (see below).

Whatever model, or models go to market, the following is key to any implementation, anywhere:

Trends of declining institutional capacity of the public sector, coupled with resource constraints in urban governance, are prompting cities and regions to support MaaS initiatives that encourage greater interest and investment from the private sector.

However, this has left the development and provision of MaaS to the free market. Consequently, these initiatives alone will not be sufficient to develop a societally optimal MaaS solution, and risk leading instead to monopolies, power asymmetries and impact on societal goals such as sustainability and equity.

Experiences to date indicate that strong government involvement is essential to maximising consumer welfare and achieving societal goals.

Download the executive summary

Information and quotes for this article have been driven by the project’s Executive Summary, co-authored by the project participants.

Click the link below to download a copy of the Executive Summary.


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