Mobility-as-a-Service platforms

Oliveira Cruz, C., Miranda Sarmento, J.*

The paper “Mobility-as-a-Service platforms” (Oliveira Cruz, C., Miranda Sarmento, J.*) will be presented at the 8th Conference on the Regulation of Infrastructures (20-21 June, 2019).


Urban mobility is experiencing a profound change. On the one hand, the mobility patterns are becoming more complex, and the typical home-work-home travels are no longer the rule, instead of the travels typically connect multiple points in a rather inconstant pattern. This has changed the transport planning approach. The existing transportation planning and operation approaches have been focused on the ability to identify typical home-work/school-home travels and plan the transport system accordingly. The approach has been: forecast -> plan -> deliver.

The traditional transport system itself is changing. Despite being supported on public transport (bus+metro+rail) and private car, new mobility solutions are emerging. They are characterised by greater flexibility, taking advantage of the ‘sharing concept’ (e.g. bicycles, electric scooters, car-sharing, etc.), and, simultaneously, providing solutions with lower GHG emissions. Therefore, the typical forecast-plan-deliver paradigm is progressively being abandoned.

Urban mobility follows a fuzzier pattern, and even the transportation system behaves like a active organism where solutions are often quickly replaced. When a new solution is understood has problematic, it is quickly abandoned. For example, a few years ago seaways seem to be the answer for short-distance urban travels, but if they have been quickly replaced by electric bicycles and/or electric scooters, at a much lower cost and higher convenience to users.

This dynamic and mutating environment raises several new challenges at different levels.

Concerning tariffs, the typical model of monthly passes vs one-travel is no longer able to deal with less stable patterns regarding utilisation and the tariff system needs to integrate different modes and mobility solutions. This means that it is necessary to have an integrated system, that allow the use of different modes, without the need of having different physical tickets. However, it is also necessary to have dynamic systems, that allow sharing revenue between the distinct modes and operators.

The technological development of mobile apps, RFID, Bluetooth, QR codes, among others, and the decreasing cost of these technologies, is facilitating the adoption and development of digital payment solutions.

The answer has been placed on Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) solutions. It transforms the physical transportation system into a commodity, taking advantage of the internet of things (IoT), i.e., communicating real-time information on the transportation system capacity and operation.

However, the emerging of MaaS solutions is anything but linear. Several business models have emerged, different partners, from different industries (e.g. technological, transport operators, infrastructure managers, etc.) have been developing their solutions, often competing. It is not unusual to have different MaaS solutions in the same city, integrating different solutions.

Besides facilitating the payments, eliminating physical tickets, and allowing a genuinely digital utilisation system, MaaS is also producing massive quantities of data. This data is crucial for city and transport planners to be able to understand the dynamics of the mobility system and identify the bottlenecks of the system and at accordingly. From a public policy perspective, this data represents the fundamental basis for informed decision making for city management. But considering that these solutions and primarily developed by private companies, this raises concerns not just over data privacy, but also for data property.

Presentation is available here.


Carlos Oliveira Cruz is an Assistant Professor of Construction economics at the Civil Engineering Department at Instituto Superior Tecnico, University of Lisbon (Portugal). His main areas of expertise include PPPs, concessions, contract design and investment appraisal, in the infrastructure sector. He has worked as a consultant for several public and private entities, in Portugal and abroad, in projects related with PPPs, concessions and regulation. Between 2005 and 2007, he served as an Advisor to the Portuguese Secretary of State for Transportation where he was involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of several transportation projects. Carlos also worked as a Consultant and Member of the Board at private consultancy firms between 2007 and 2010. In 2011, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University), where he focused his research on contract renegotiation.


Joaquim Miranda Sarmento is an Assistant Professor at ISEG – Lisbon School of Economics and Management of the Universidade de Lisboa. Is also an invited professor at Catolica Lisbon School and several national and international universities. Is invited Professor at FGV- Fundação Getúlio Vargas. He holds a Ph.D in Finance, from Tilburg University, and a Master in Finance from ISCTE. Undergraduate in Management from ISEG. Have an executive course in Taxation from IDEFE/ISEG, an executive course in PPPs from Catolica Lisbon School and the “Driving government performance”, at Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. From 2012 to 2016 has served as the President of the Republic Cavaco Silva Chief Economic Advisor. Previously worked 10 years at the Minister of Finance and was also a consultant at UTAO.


* presenting author

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