Case study Mobility as a Service (MaaS)

The Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concept has been gaining in popularity for a few years now. MaaS focuses on the combined provision of multimodal (demand-driven) mobility services for travellers via a digital platform, such as a mobile app. This is done through tailor-made travel options, real-time information and the possibility of payment and processing transactions.

MaaS users are flexible 'mobilists', with no distinction made between different types of travellers according to modality (such as motorists or cyclists) but according to mobility. Travellers choose a mode of transport that best suits their trip at that time. This might vary between one's own car, a shared bike, public transport or combinations of these. It is expected that people will travel faster, smarter, cheaper and cleaner from A to B. MaaS reduces the dependence on one's own car, which can benefit the (living) environment and accessibility in cities and beyond.

MaaS originated in Finland

The MaaS concept first became known in Finland. 'Whim', a Finnish MaaS app, was rolled out in Helsinki at the end of 2017 and already had more than 70,000 users by 2018. Although the app is available in several countries, the MaaS rollout is nowhere as advanced as it is in Finland. The Finnish Transport Act obliges mobility providers to make their data available to third parties. The result is no more closed systems from mobility providers and the possibility of offering all the different modalities in one app. For example, you can use the Whim app to book a taxi, buy a train ticket and rent a car or a city bike.

Finnish Whim users can choose from several variants ranging from a 'to go subscription' which allows you to flexibly use different services and pay for each service purchased, to an 'unlimited subscription' which allows you to make unlimited use of the different mobility services for a fixed amount per month (€499). In this way, Whim appeals to several types of travellers, from frequent to occasional commuters. An evaluation of Whim shows that users utilise public transport more frequently, are more inclined to take a taxi than non-Whim users and that shared bicycles offer a solution for the first and last mile in particular. Users are clearly flexible in their travel behaviour and the application of MaaS seems successful there. After Finland, the Mobility as a Service concept was also adopted in other countries.

MaaS in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, central government, regional governments and market parties are experimenting with MaaS. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has developed seven MaaS pilot projects with an equal number of regions. In these pilot projects, which also involve the Benelux and North Rhine-Westphalia, the parties involved are testing what works and does not work in terms of behaviour, business case (for the provider) and policy impact. The pilot projects can be scaled up nationwide. In other words, to be a success story it must be possible to roll out a pilot project nationwide.

Each pilot project focuses on different target groups and policy objectives: from accessibility and social inclusion to sustainability, cross-border transport and traffic congestion management. The pilot projects will run from 2019 up to and including 2021. One MaaS provider (market party) is developing a MaaS app for each pilot project.

Overall, the Ministry and the seven regions have the following objectives:

  • Linking travel dates and offering seven very user-friendly apps so the traveller can choose from all combinations of transport options, and plan, book and pay. The traveller's privacy is guaranteed.
  • Gaining and learning from MaaS experiences and expanding mobility knowledge. Good applications and sufficient users are prerequisites.
  • Using MaaS to take the first step towards a sustainable transport future, where ownership is less important and service is more important.

The pilot projects of the seven regions in co-operation with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management are as follows:

1. The Zuidas (Amsterdam) (initiators: City of Amsterdam and Amsterdam Transport Region)

There is heavy traffic congestion on and around the A10 Zuid motorway. It is expected that congestion will increase further in the coming years, partly due to work on the Zuidasdok project. The Zuidas mostly attracts business travellers, so this pilot project focuses on this target group. A future MaaS app must offer a serious alternative to travelling by car and provide the traveller with flexibility and freedom of choice. The aim is to structurally improve the accessibility of the Zuidas.

2. Utrecht Leidsche Rijn, Vleuten and De Meern (initiators: Goedopweg, the Municipality of Utrecht and the Province of Utrecht)

In Utrecht Leidsche Rijn, Vleuten and De Meern, the number of inhabitants is growing rapidly and car ownership and use is high. Substantial population growth is expected until 2030 (+25,000 to 105,000 inhabitants). That is why intervention is needed. The pilot project in this region focuses on stimulating alternatives to the car. The MaaS app should improve accessibility and quality of life in the region. The pilot project will end on 31 December 2021.

3. Eindhoven (initiators: the Municipality of Eindhoven, ASML, Brainport Smart Mobility)

The Brainport region is growing: the economy is on the rise, and with it the need for mobility and living space. Sustainable accessibility of the region is central to Eindhoven, and to this pilot project. The pilot project is focussing primarily on employees of the Municipality of Eindhoven, ASML and Brainport Smart Mobility. In time, other companies in the region will also join.

4. Limburg (initiators: the Province of Limburg in collaboration with Maastricht Bereikbaar)

Limburg is the only province in the Netherlands bordering two other countries. These borders constitute an obstacle to multimodal, cross-border mobility, particularly in public transport. This makes it uncertain and impractical for the user to use public transport to travel across the border. The Province of Limburg therefore wants to simplify cross-border, multimodal travel and thereby reduce car use. In order to achieve this, co-operation with foreign partners is, of course, a prerequisite.

5. Twente (Initiators: eight municipalities and the Province of Overijssel)

Eight municipalities in Twente are joining forces to ensure that mobility is accessible and affordable for vulnerable target groups in the region. This pilot project therefore focuses on the users of customised transport. In the first instance, this specifically concerns social support travellers; in time, it will also concern structural customised transport. Ultimately, the pilot project will focus on all inhabitants and visitors inTwente.

6. Groningen Drenthe (initiators: the Provinces of Drenthe and Groningen, Public Transport Bureau Groningen Drenthe, GR Public Transport Groningen Drenthe)

In large parts of the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe, the public transport offering is small. However, with a concentration of facilities in the population centres (such as Groningen and Assen), there is a great need for transportation. A hub network has already been created in the provinces. This network makes it easier to switch from one modality to another. In order to increase ease of use for the traveller, the entire range of transport needs to be easy to access and integrated.

7. Rotterdam-The Hague (initiators: De Verkeersonderneming (a public-private partnership) in collaboration with Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Schiphol Real Estate, the Metropolitan Region Rotterdam-The Hague, the City of Rotterdam and the City of The Hague)

There is great pressure on the mobility system in the Rotterdam-The Hague region. The aim of the MaaS pilot project in this region is therefore to relieve the pressure and to keep the region accessible to everyone, with every modality. This includes improving the accessibility of Rotterdam The Hague Airport. The airport is now mostly easily accessible by car, the pilot project should contribute to multimodal access.

In addition to the seven pilot projects initiated by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, there are also experiments with MaaS at other locations in the Netherlands. Examples of this are: The Paleiskwartier, Den Bosch, and the project on the Campus Heijdenaal, Nijmegen.

Preconditions for rolling out MaaS

MaaS is not easy to apply at the moment. The following preconditions apply to successful application:

  • Availability of data: open data from all carriers is a requirement. Currently, for example, the NS (Dutch Railways) does not yet have the data of parking operators and other transport providers, and vice versa.
  • The possibility of selling each other's products: for public transport, we have arranged the public transport card, but a door-to-door solution requires many more providers.
  • A good balance between management and market: the market must be given the opportunity to develop the role of service provider, while at the same time avoiding the emergence of an excessive amount of apps or competing mobility services.

In addition, the success of MaaS also depends heavily on the behavior and perception of the final user:

  • Autonomy and flexibility: in order to be a success, the service must at least offer the traveller autonomy and flexibility, be reliable and ideally available anytime and anywhere.
  • Added value: MaaS must offer added value compared to the existing situation. The 'four cs' seem particularly important here: cost benefits, more convenience, more choice and customisation.
  • Experienced mobility problem: current mobility behaviour will determine whether or not travellers are prepared to adopt MaaS. For example, it is important whether people experience a mobility problem or not, and whether they already have experience with modes of transport other than their usual ways of travelling.

It is therefore necessary to think carefully about whether, and if so how, MaaS can contribute to (social) project goals, and in what timeframe. MaaS is not a quick fix measure to improve accessibility or quality of life in an area. At the same time, MaaS has the potential to have a major impact in the medium and long terms. The seven regional, nationally scalable MaaS pilot projects serve as a space for experimentation to gain more insight into these effects and the preconditions.


  • The Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis (KiM) (2019) Mobility-as-a-Service onder de loep
  • Ramboll, MaaS Global (2019) Whimpact – Insights from the world’s first Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) system
  • Verkeerskunde (2018) Al 30.000 app-reizigers in ‘het land van MaaS’
  • Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (2019) MaaS-pilots – Optimaliseren van het mobiliteitssysteem
  • The Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis (KiM) (2018) Meer zicht op Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)