Urban Mobility

Mobility on Demand (MOD) and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) How Are They Similar and Different?

Mobility on Demand (MOD) and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) How Are They Similar and Different?

In recent years, the growth of on-demand transportation services are reshaping mobility patterns and the way people move and interact with cities. In spite of this growth, however, there is increasing confusion about two commonly used terms: 1) Mobility on Demand (MOD) and 2) Mobility as a Service (MaaS).


Mobility on demand (MOD), as defined by the US Department of Transportation, is a new concept based on the principle that transportation is a commodity where modes have economic values that are distinguishable in terms of cost, journey time, wait time, number of connections, convenience, and other attributes. MOD enables consumers to access mobility, goods, and services on demand by dispatching or using shared mobility, delivery services, and public transportation solutions through an integrated and connected multi-modal network. The most advanced forms of MOD passenger services incorporate trip planning and booking, real-time information, and fare payment into a single user interface. Passenger modes facilitated through MOD providers include: carsharing, bikesharing, ridesharing, transportation network companies (TNCs, also known as ridesourcing and ride-hailing), scooter sharing, microtransit, shuttle services, public transportation, and other emerging transportation solutions. The most advanced forms of MOD courier services incorporate robotic delivery; app-based courier network services (CNS); and aerial services (e.g., delivery drones). With MOD, there is a recognition that every trip has a purpose and that goods delivery may be able to serve as a substitute for some passenger trips. In addition to MOD’s strong emphasis on passenger mobility and goods delivery, MOD also emphasizes transportation systems management to optimize overall operations of the transportation network (i.e., supply and demand).


Girl looking down at her cell phone while riding a scooter


While there are some similarities, MOD differs from the emerging European concept of Mobility as a Service (commonly referred to as MaaS). MOD focuses on the commodification of passenger mobility and goods delivery and transportation systems management, whereas MaaS primarily focuses on passenger mobility aggregation and subscription services. Brokering travel with suppliers, repackaging, and reselling it as a bundled package is a distinguishing characteristic of MaaS. The similarities and differences between MOD and MaaS can be best explained through two case studies, one from the United States and another from Sweden.

Similarities and Differences of MOD and MaaS


A Case of Mobility as a Service: UbiGo in Gothenburg, Sweden

The concept of MaaS evolved approximately a decade ago with a study that sought to develop a business model for a combined mobility provider with partner stakeholders. Despite a lot of interest from vendors and partners, this study concluded that a third party was needed to integrate multiple transportation services. This study ultimately led to the first MaaS deployment, a pilot known as UbiGo to evaluate service concepts and pricing. UbiGo operated in Gothenburg, Sweden between November 2013 to April 2014. UbiGo repackaged existing transportation services (e.g., public transit, taxi, bikesharing, and carsharing) into a one-stop, monthly, paid subscription service for the entire household (including children). This pilot included 195 people (173 adult participants and 22 children under the age of 18 years old). UbiGo subscriptions started at approximately €135 or 185USD per month at the time of the trial, although the average subscription was approximately €200 or 280USD per month. According to Sochor et al. (2016), key findings from the pilot include:


– 20 private vehicles were set aside during the trial, including 17 from single-vehicle households;


– During the trial, the participant group purchased:


/ An average of 904 carsharing hours per month in their subscriptions but used only 620 of those hours;


/ 2,220 daily public transit passes were purchased, with 1,920 being used


/ In November 2013, there were 28 active bikesharing users and in March 2014 there were 80 active users, (the bikesharing system was not available between December 2013 and February 2014)


/ Between November 2013 and April 2014, there was an average of 11 taxi rentals per month; an


/ Based on a self-reported survey of other modes available, 50% of participants walked, 16% used a private bicycle, and 9% used a private vehicle at least three to five times per week.


UbiGo relaunched with another pilot in Stockholm in March 2018. In summary, MaaS is more than just multimodal and smartphone integration, but it also includes the bundling of transportation services into a subscription package, including a range of transportation services.


Messenger delivering parcel, walking in street next to his van


A Case of Mobility on Demand: A Growing Ecosystem of Courier Services

Whether it is a startup (e.g., Instacart, Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash), an Internet-based retailer (e.g., Amazon), or a supply chain and logistics firm, advancements in courier services (technologies and service models) are transforming how consumers access goods and services. In 2018, Kroger began testing driverless grocery deliveries in Arizona using automated vehicles. The pilot allows shoppers to place an order through Kroger’s ClickList ordering system or Nuro’s app and have it delivered same day or the next day for a flat 5.95USD fee. Additionally, Kroeger has entered a partnership with Ocado to improve its online ordering, automated fulfillment, and home delivery capabilities. The companies are working to identify locations for three automated warehouses in the U.S. with up to 20 locations by 2021. Kroger’s automated grocery delivery is just one of many examples of how households can use on-demand mobility to replace mobility trips. Thus, MOD can promote access—whether through physical mobility or delivery.


The key differences between MOD and Maas include:


1) MOD includes passenger and goods movement,


2) MOD incorporates principles of transportation systems management (managing supply and demand), and


3) MaaS emphasizes mobility aggregation and subscription services that bundle multiple services into a pricing package.


For more information on Mobility as a Service, UbiGo, and the initial UbiGo pilot, please see: https://ubigo.me/ and https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.3141/2542-07


Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen co-authored the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Mobility on Demand Operational Concept, available at: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/34258