Online marketplaces enable in the travel context the dynamic matching of supply and demand. The shared economy can revolutionize urban mobility by blurring the traditional division between private and public transport, shifting from an ownership model to Mobility as a Service (MaaS). As already experienced in Amsterdam with Airbnb, the shared economy can not only be a blessing and can also introduce substantial externalities if not regulated. Since MaaS breaks the conventional division between individual (ownership) and collective (usage) travel alternatives, existing theories and models of travel behaviour, transport network and operations cannot explain the behavioural dynamics, interactions and evolution of both supply and demand in the marketplace.

CriticalMaaS is devoted to the development of network, operations and behavioural concepts, theories and models for the emergence of Mobility as a Service.

A 5-year CriticalMaaS project: What will the future of urban mobility look like?

The shared economy has the potential to revolutionize urban mobility by blurring the traditional division between private and public transport, moving from an ownership model to Mobility as a Service (MaaS). The term MaaS encompasses here a wide-range of on-demand and flexible services that do not require owning a vehicle, including ride-sharing, ride-sourcing, e-hailing and demand responsive transport. Several pioneering companies started offering in the last few years multi-user ride-sourcing services. MaaS is expected to become significantly more affordable and applicable at large scales with the anticipated arrival of fully-automated vehicles, i.e. driverless level 5 SAE standard.

Key research questions include: What is the potential market share of MaaS under different conditions? How large does a fleet need to be when introducing a new on-demand service? How will such new services co-exist with conventional public transport? Will they compete or complement each other? How should conventional public transport evolve in response? How can MaaS services be best accommodates and steered to meet societal goals related to accessibility and equity?

“On-demand transport is both an opportunity and a threat to urban mobility and public transport in particular. New transport solutions can complement existing options but cannot fully substitute them due to the geometrical and economical properties of transport service systems. We need to create the best conditions for them to be part of an integrated transport planning and management.”

Oded Cats

Co-Director of the Smart Public Transport Lab

The CriticalMaaS research program develops and tests theories and models to explain and predict the performance of (potentially fully-automated) flexible on-demand transport services offered by Mobility as a Service providers at strategic, tactical and real-time operation levels by identifying key determinants of level-of-service, including the consideration of travel demand patterns, traveller and operator behavioural preferences, service design and fleet allocation and management with a special focus on system-wide accessibility, efficiency and equity effects.

The research performed in CriticalMaaS is composed of three thematic clusters: (i) Behaviour: Individual consumers’ and suppliers’ preferences and behavioural dynamics in the era of MaaS; (ii) Network and Operations: Network-wide supply-demand interactions and the management of MaaS systems, and; (iii) Mass effects: Evolution of collective patterns and market adoption of MaaS.

These questions are of great relevance for the future of (public) transport in the Amsterdam area, which is a leading area in embracing new mobility solutions and characterized by limited ability to expand infrastructure capacity.

CriticalMaaS is funded by a European Research Council (ERC) grant under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant number 804469 and supported by co-funding from Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute).

  • January 2019 - December 2023

Project members