Mobility-as-a-Service and the role of multimodality in the sustainability of urban mobility in developing and developed countries

Chinh Q. Ho*, Alejandro Tirachini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


Mobility as a service (MaaS) is an emerging framework that integrates multiple transport services into a single and intuitive platform. This paper contrasts the urban passenger transport markets in developed versus developing economies to understand the challenges of integrating mobility services using the MaaS framework, with a focus on decarbonization and sustainability as societal goals. In addition, we conducted a Life Cycle Assessment of carbon emissions and energy requirements of travel alternatives in the city of Santiago, Chile, to shed light on the effects of multimodality as an environmental tool. A summary of findings follows. Data sharing and open data are new in developing countries, and thus more investment in data infrastructure is required so that MaaS can leverage digital technology and network optimization. If the scalability of MaaS is an open question in developed countries, it is more so in developing countries, owning to institutional and financial constraints that are present in the latter. The lack of public subsidies to support formal public transport is a key limitation for the implementation of MaaS schemes and multimodal frameworks in the developing world. Regarding formality, in countries with an informal public transport sector, a potential implementation of MaaS will be spatially constrained to those locations where public transport operates formally and frequently (BRT and rail lines), limiting its spatial coverage and posing social equity issues. In countries with scarce or no public funds available for the transport sector, MaaS could be used as a catalyst for a broad environmental and equity-seeking transport pricing reform which requires a direct involvement of public sector in both regulation and financial backing. We conclude that the formalization and general improvement of the public transport sector, the regulation of shared-mobility platforms including the formalization of the work of drivers, and the setting of proper pricing and subsidization instruments in the direction of internalizing the social costs of motorized traffic, are all prerequisites for any MaaS system that aims to improve economic efficiency, social equity, and sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-176
Number of pages16
JournalTransport policy
Early online date31 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


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