“Mobility as a service is the 21st century equivalent to the Ford Model T, which gave people the freedom to go wherever and whenever they wanted,” said MaaS Global CEO Sampo Hietanen. Hietanen stated this before a release of a new study that has found his company, Whim, could have a great chance at breaking the consumer car habit.
“Whim is better than owning your own car,” Hietanen explained.
Hietanen is one of the “fathers” of mobility-as-a-service, or MaaS. The concept dates back to 1996 when the creation of an “intelligent information assistant” was suggested by data scientists during the ENTER tourism conference held that year in Austria. The first steps to make it a reality came after a presentation Hietanen gave at a tech conference in Helsinki in December 2014. Hietanen, then the CEO of Intelligent Transportation Services Finland, a non-profit working on “intelligent” traffic, floated the idea of commercializing a mobility-as-a-service to an audience of 200 – his keynote led to pledges from 24 organizations of €5,000 each. MaaS Global was incorporated in 2015.
“Originally, the [MaaS] phrase was a joint effort,” said Hietanen.
“Before the 2014 presentation I introduced an earlier version of the concept and the guy who was behind the Nokia Communicator [a late 1990s precursor to the smartphone] said that it was like traffic as a service. I can’t take the whole credit for the phrase itself.”
The MaaS idea spread quickly. Evaluating the concept in a standalone report, the U.K.’s House of Commons Transport Committee in 2018 defined MaaS as “digital platforms through which people can access a range of public, shared and private transport, using a system that integrates the planning, booking and paying for travel.”
Read more here