The cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa are collaborating to develop and test the first Mobility as a Service platform that utilizes a standardized application programming interface, which would enable any public or private transportation service provider to benefit from it. The platform would initially combine public transportation with publicly-funded, social passenger transportation, and could save the cities significant sums of money.
The MaaS platform, now nearing its piloting phase, first tests the possibility of connecting public transportation and social transportation services in the Greater Helsinki area. Social transportation services are publicly-funded passenger services that cities are required by law to provide, for example student and disability transport services. However, the MaaS platform would also be open to transportation services developed in the private sector, including shared transport services as well as operation systems and services.
The project was initiated in 2016, when Helsinki Business Hub involved the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa in the project, started to evaluate different options, define platform criteria and benchmark possible platform providers and solutions. It then considered the possibilities of speeding up MaaS services in the Helsinki area together with Sitowise Oy – a Finnish company specialized for example in infrastructure, traffic solutions and logistics – and Fluidtime GmbH – an Austrian supplier of IT systems for integrated mobility – which had been chosen as the most suitable providers for the project. In addition to these two, Vinka Oy will participate in the development of the needed routing algorithms and optimization engine. Together, the partners launched the MaaS research and development work.
“Helsinki Business Hub enabled the project and coordinated it among the cities and other project partners, and that was instrumental. We are also discussing new ideas for the project,” says Leading Consultant Pekka Eloranta from Sitowise, the partner responsible for the feasibility study of the project.
A swift journey from modeling table to pilot
“We have been first and foremost modeling how different public and private services can be gradually included in the MaaS service and opened to everyone, as well as working on the technical architecture, including IT processes and systems. The main driver of the project is to streamline and optimize public transportation services and bring them on a MaaS platform that will also be open to private transportation services. This will save public costs and increase the amount, quality and flexibility of services available to customers. The project also aims to provide public and private organizations with valuable information on consumer preferences,” Eloranta says.
The MaaS operating model and platform will begin its piloting now in early 2018 in the geographically limited area of Koivukylä, in the City of Vantaa. The aim is to test the functionality of the platform as well as verify its advantages.
“We are currently getting test customers for the pilot project. After the pilot, we will evaluate the geographic extensibility of the service first to the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo, and later, to the entire Greater Helsinki region. The pilot will also help evaluate the content extensibility of the service, that is, how fast private transport services could be integrated into the platform,” says Pekka Eloranta.
“In the end, consumers will hopefully benefit not only from an increase in the quality and amount of travel choices but will also get a single, clear, integrated transportation service.”