Making Mobility-as-a-Service: Towards Governance Principles and Pathways
Doctoral thesis, 2020

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is a service concept that integrates public transport with other mobility services, such as car sharing, ride sourcing, and bicycle sharing. The core idea is that intermediary digital services make it easier for users to plan, book, and pay for complementary mobility services, thereby facilitating less car-centric lifestyles. However, although MaaS has gained much interest in recent years, the concept has proven difficult to realize. Accordingly, there is a prevalent demand for knowledge on how to enable and push MaaS developments.

Conceptualizing MaaS developments as an innovation process that might contribute to a sustainability transition, this thesis sets out to improve the understanding of how public sector actors can facilitate action in the early phases and steer the innovation trajectory towards addressing long-term sustainability goals. The public transport authority in Västra Götaland (Sweden), and its attempts to facilitate MaaS developments, is used as a starting point. Three of its MaaS-related activities between 2016 and 2019 are analyzed based on participatory observation and stakeholder interviews. Additionally, the thesis draws on two qualitative studies of MaaS developments situated in Finland and Australia.

The thesis’ contribution to the research field of MaaS is threefold. Firstly, it explores expectations of MaaS. A majority of the actors involved in the studied MaaS developments reckoned that MaaS will support a modal shift away from private car use. Still, while some actors were confident that this will lower the negative externalities of personal mobility systems, others feared that it will reinforce social and environmental problems. Of note is that none of these views are yet backed by any extensive empirical evidence, the shortage of which is an ongoing challenge for MaaS developments. Secondly, the thesis identifies institutional factors that shape MaaS developments. The studied developments were enabled by novel information technologies and motivated by the need to lessen the negative impacts of private cars. Yet, the developments brought together actors that had not previously collaborated and challenged models of collaboration, business, and customer relations, which made them contingent on complex modifications within and beyond personal mobility systems. Thirdly, the thesis examines how the public sector governs MaaS developments. The governance approaches varied across Sweden, Finland, and Australia in terms of leading actors, methods of intervention, and underlying motivations, but were yet to deliver much tangible results for citizens in all three countries.

Based on these findings, the thesis proposes principles and pathways for MaaS governance. The principles advocate a broad set of activities to address all the institutional factors that impede MaaS developments. In contrast to the observed governance approaches, this includes activities aimed at strengthening mobility services and active mobility, and at weakening the private car regime. The pathways describe four roles public sector actors can take in MaaS developments – MaaS Promoter, MaaS Partner, MaaS Enabler, and Laissez-Faire – and illustrate how the method(s) of intervention can be adjusted between innovation phases. The principles and pathways thereby provide a comprehensive tool for understanding and enhancing public-private dynamics in MaaS developments.


Collaborative innovation

Sustainability transitions

Opponent: Professor Glenn Lyons, UWE Bristol, United Kingdom


Göran Smith

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design and Human Factors

Mobility as a Service: Development scenarios and implications for public transport

Research in Transportation Economics,; Vol. 69(2018)p. 592-599

Journal article

Public–private innovation: barriers in the case of mobility as a service in West Sweden

Public Management Review,; Vol. 21(2019)p. 116-137

Journal article

Mobility as a service: Comparing developments in Sweden and Finland

Research in Transportation Business and Management,; Vol. 27(2018)p. 36-45

Journal article

Perceived action spaces for public actors in the development of Mobility as a Service

European Transport Research Review,; Vol. 11(2019)

Journal article

Intermediary MaaS Integrators: A Case Study on Hopes and Fears

Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice,; Vol. 31(2020)p. 163-177

Journal article

Towards a framework for Mobility-as-a-Service policies

Transport Policy,; Vol. 89(2020)p. 54-65

Journal article

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is a service concept that helps users plan, book, and pay for multiple mobility services (such as public transport, car sharing, and bicycle rental). Ultimately, by making it simpler and more appealing for users to combine mobility services, the vision is that MaaS will offer a competitive alternative to private car ownership and use. However, the MaaS concept has proven difficult to realize in practice. To understand what public sector actors can do to promote the realization of MaaS and steer its development trajectory towards addressing transport’s most pressing sustainability problems, this thesis analyzes empirical evidence gathered from recent MaaS developments in Sweden, Finland, and Australia.
The thesis explores how involved actors expect MaaS to affect transport, identifies institutional factors that drive and hinder MaaS developments, and examines how public sector activities influence the development processes. Based on these findings, the thesis proposes a set of principle activities for public sector actors that want to promote and steer MaaS developments. Broadly, to pave the way for MaaS, the public sector must directly assist MaaS developments in multiple ways, as well as address the webs of tangible and intangible factors that favor private cars and disfavor mobility services, cycling, and walking. The thesis moreover outlines four roles that public sector actors can take in relation to MaaS developments: MaaS Promoter, MaaS Partner, MaaS Enabler, and Laissez-Faire. The principles and roles can thereby support policymakers in drafting and analyzing MaaS governance strategies.

Institutional Frameworks for Integrated Mobility Services in future cities - IRIMS

VINNOVA (2015-03551), 2015-10-15 -- 2018-02-22.

Combined Mobility Roadmap Sweden - KOMPIS

VINNOVA (2017-02468), 2017-05-04 -- 2020-12-31.

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology


Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Transport Systems and Logistics

Public Administration Studies



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 4764





Opponent: Professor Glenn Lyons, UWE Bristol, United Kingdom

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