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Mobility as a Service Technology Will Not Solve the Country's Transportation Problems

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) relies on technology to streamline transportation and improve access. But apps are not going to be enough for people to leave their cars behind.
November 21, 2019, 2pm PST | Camille Fink
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Daria Nepriakhina

David Zipper takes a closer look at Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and its potential to shift people from driving to other more sustainable modes. "Boosters of the concept hail it as a means of weaning commuters off privately owned automobiles via technology platforms that allow them to easily book and plan trips across an array of urban transportation services—including transit, bikeshare, ride hail, e-scooters, and more."

The goal is admirable, says Zipper, but he challenges the notion that technology is a mobility solution more than just a tool. Apps can help travelers navigate transportation systems, but they cannot create accessible and robust mobility networks. For that, policy and planning need to address service and infrastructure issues.

Increased transit frequency, improved biking infrastructure, and higher driving costs provide incentives for people to look to alternatives to auto use. MaaS can bring a variety of modes together onto one platform, says Zipper. "But we should be realistic: Without supportive policies and investment decisions, the smartest MaaS technology in the world won’t be able to liberate cities from our reliance on automobility."

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Published on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 in CityLab
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