Insights 24 January 2019 By: Madeleine Funes

How to put the ‘MaaS’ into US Mass Transit Operations

The relationship between the mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) movement and traditional mass transit may not be obvious at first glance, but the interplay between the two is significant. According to our first U.S. ground transportation survey and report, “Modernizing the Passenger Experience in U.S. Ground Transportation”, U.S. transit riders are frequently choosing a combination of transportation modes including rideshare services (Uber and Lyft, for example), and mass transit modes, such as bus or rail, to get to their destinations.

Data from the survey we conducted in September 2018 (including 2,052 consumers and 103 transit operators) illustrates that U.S. consumers want a better overall experience from ground transportation operators—more convenient, more connected, and mobile-ready. The evolution toward MaaS is helping transit operators leverage mobile devices as the primary connector between different modes of transportation. It’s also making it easier for travelers to manage ticketing and payment transactions across bus, rail, rideshare and other ground services they use frequently.

Disruption is already here… What happens next?

Rideshare companies have disrupted the ground transportation industry by connecting drivers and riders through an easy-to-use mobile app. Nearly half of U.S. consumers (45%) now use a ridesharing service, while about a third (37%) use it as part of their multi-modal trips, and 44% often or always use it with public transit. Among those who use ridesharing as part of a multi-modal journey, about a quarter (24%) use it weekly and one in ten (11%) use it daily.

While most ridesharing customers (35%) use the service less than once a month, the experience of using a rideshare app has created new digital expectations among mass transit riders. They want their public transport experience to be more like Uber and Lyft, and less like traditional mass transit. Their expectations have evolved faster than many ground and mass transit operators’ abilities to keep up.

There’s no doubt that better mobile apps can help mass transit operators meet riders’ digital expectations. A well-designed mobile app can ease intermodal difficulties for riders and significantly improve their experience. When we surveyed U.S. riders, an overwhelming number of respondents said that a mobile app with real-time tracking/mapping, the ability to pay for multiple legs of a journey at once, and real-time notifications would make them much happier riders. And that kind of tangible data and feedback from the customers they serve should be enough to get more mass transit operators onto the MaaS bandwagon, stat.

Learn more about what U.S. riders expect from ground and mass transit operators, in our new report “Modernizing the Passenger Experience in U.S. Ground Transportation.”