I’ve been predicting the arrival of the TSP – a single provider of transportation services, rather like a Shaw or Telus offering a suite of communications options, from cellphone to cable TV.  In the case of a Transportation Service Provider, a single monthy bill will give you information and access to all forms of transit, train, car- and bikeshare, rentals, pre-paid tolls, road pricing charges, parking and maybe even maintenance for your increasingly less-needed private car and bike.
Peter Ladner discovered that in some places, the TSP is already here:
Transport for West Midlands and Whim set to pioneer MaaS in the UK
A new era of transport is about to begin in the United Kingdom, where West Midlands will become the first region to pilot Mobility as Service (MaaS) to its residents. The pioneering service, Whim by the MaaS operator MaaS Global, will be launched in the West Midlands metropolitan area in early 2017. The launch follows a freshly signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the West Midlands Combined Authority, transport service providers National Express and SilverRail, Birmingham City Council and MaaS Global. Other transport companies will be welcomed onboard the Whim service in the future.
A single service for all transport
The MaaS concept means looking after people’s daily mobility needs with a single service, which can be used either on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis. …
The world’s first capital region MaaS service is already in operation in Helsinki, Finland, where MaaS Global has launched the Whim mobile app – initially for a limited group of test users. Whim, which will be released in Birmingham and West Midlands metropolitan area in spring 2017, will integrate public transport, rental cars, taxis, trains, bikes and more to take people door to door as easily as possible. It has proven immensely popular in Finland, with a growing list of users on the waiting list before next year’s public launch.
Shaping tomorrow’s transport together
The MoU commits all the signed parties to develop MaaS in West Midlands, with a shared goal to build an attractive, comprehensive and convenient service with long-term viability. Councillor Roger Lawrence, lead member for transport for the WMCA, see MaaS as a great idea to encourage people to consider how they get about other than with the private car.
“Mobility as a Service can transform how people get about this region and by doing so help free up our roads and tackle the scourge of congestion which costs this region billions of pounds a year,” he says.


  1. Gord, if you recall when you were on TransLink’s Board in the early 2000’s we spoke about a multi-modal webtool to allow people to get to where they want to go at a given time and the tool would provide the best options (this gave me the justification to lease a webserver to host the GVTA.ca domain back then, so thanks!). Because TransLink was designed as a multi-modal agency, it was a natural path for TransLink to go towards, which is a transport service provider. Not just a Transit service provider. So I was quite pumped by the fact that we had an innovative institutional and governance model which I think is the blueprint for modern agencies, and effectively “MaaS-ready”.
    That is why I use the term “modally agnostic” (more on this later) because that reinforces the fact that we need to see transport for what it is: a means to an end. If that is the primary goal, then how we get there, in terms of mode, isn’t as important as getting there with the greatest “utility” (be it perceived utility). This is the fundamental benefit of MaaS, in that it tailors suggestions based on your concept of utility which includes preferences of perceived time, cost, safety/security, comfort, etc. It helps one “cut to the chase” which is what most people want.
    Only those who are biased towards certain modes feel MaaS and it’s little brother, Uber (and big brother, Autonomous), are a threat. And this is normal, because if i’m a bus/taxi/truck driver, or I’m the head of such an operating agency, it’s not pleasant to hear about these things (and there are solutions to help these folks! more on this later). But I don’t think we should be surprized about this because it’s been talked about and even lectured at local universities for the past two decades (i.e. ITS, ATIS), only to be brushed away as pro-car when it’s more pro-reality in an ever increasing technologically-dependent world. One could argue Steve Jobs is to blame.

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