Mobility as a service and sustainable travel behaviour: A
thematic analysis study
Elena Alyavina, Alexandros Nikitas
, Eric Tchouamou Njoya
Department of Logistics, Marketing, Hospitality and Analytics, Huddersﬁeld Business School, University of Huddersﬁeld, HD1 3DH Huddersﬁeld, UK
Received 10 February 2020
Received in revised form 2 July 2020
Accepted 5 July 2020
Mobility as a Service
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a novel brand of transport that promises to replace private
cars with multimodal personalised mobility packages enabled by a digital platform capable
of integrating travel planning, booking and ticketing, and real-time information services. It
is an intervention that through its digitisation, connectivity, information and sharing mer-
its intends to inspire and support the transition to a more sustainable mobility paradigm.
Recent research suggests, however, that the potential uptake of MaaS might not be over-
whelming; current car drivers could face considerable difﬁculties in bypassing their per-
sonal car for it and, more worryingly, future MaaS users may substitute not only
personal car trips but also public transport journeys with car-sharing and ride-sharing ser-
vices. This means that MaaS might not be able to create travel behaviour change, and even
if it does, the changes may not be always towards the right direction. Through conducting
40 semi-structured interviews in three different UK cities, namely London, Birmingham
and Huddersﬁeld, and employing a robust Thematic Analysis approach, this study explores
the factors underpinning the uptake and potential success of MaaS as a sustainable travel
mechanism. The challenges and opportunities reﬂecting and affecting potential for respon-
sible MaaS usage refer to ﬁve core themes Car Dependence; Trust; Human Element
Externalities; Value; and Cost, each of them with distinctive and diverse dimensions.
Policy-makers and mobility providers should realise that MaaS success relies on changing
people’s attitudes to private cars (something very challenging) and thus they should incen-
tivise responsible MaaS use, promote public transport as its backbone, use public engage-
ment exercises and trials to expose people to the concept and somewhat demonise private
car ownership and car use.
Ó2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY
A car-centric transport paradigm has been the foundation of urban growth on a worldwide scale for decades now, which,
despite its ‘user convenience’ merits, has been associated with severely adverse effects on the grounds of social, environmen-
tal and economic sustainability (Nikitas, 2018). Hence, planning bodies are embracing innovative ways for enabling people
to travel more responsibly. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a novel concept that could facilitate a shift in individuals’ travel
behaviour away from private car dependence. According to the MaaS paradigm, privately owned vehicles will be replaced by
personalised multimodal mobility service packages on a contract or ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis (Kamargianni & Matyas, 2017;
1369-8478/Ó2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (A. Nikitas).
Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Transportation Research Part F
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/trf
Nikitas, Kougias, Alyavina, & Njoya Tchouamou, 2017). MaaS is predicted to contribute to sustainability by increased sharing
of mobility resources, reducing the number of vehicles needed as well as simplifying multimodality through integration
(Strömberg, Karlsson, & Sochor, 2018). MaaS allows access to transport services (which themselves could be new) via mobile
apps and represents a window of opportunity to establish the age of sharing economies in transport (Bardhi & Eckhardt,
2012). To enhance the reaches of public transport, MaaS relies on shared use alternatives to private car, such as taxi, car-
sharing, ride-sharing, ride-hailing and bike-sharing (Jittrapirom et al., 2017). Recent research suggests, however, that the
potential uptake of MaaS might not be overwhelming (Ho, Hensher, Mulley, & Wong, 2018); current car drivers could face
considerable difﬁculties in bypassing their attachment to personal car (Storme, De Vos, De Paepe, & Witlox, 2020), and future
MaaS users may substitute not only personal car trips but also public transport journeys with car-sharing and ride-sharing
services (Hensher, 2017) - a phenomenon called ‘‘Uberisation” of MaaS. This means that MaaS penetration, contrary to
expectations, may lead in numerous cases to unsustainable travel practices among its users and to limited results in terms
of modal shift and car ownership reduction. At present, there is a scarcity of research trying to understand the drivers of the
observed behaviourial (or in most cases intentional behavioural) patterns with MaaS. Therefore, this study makes its purpose
(1) Explore the factors underpinning the potential uptake of MaaS and its pathway for being established as a mainstream
(2) Identify challenges and opportunities in creating genuinely sustainable travel behaviour with MaaS.
The next section of this study provides a more detailed background justifying the need for this study. This is followed by a
detailed description of the methodology used. Then, this study’s key ﬁndings are presented. Finally, the paper provides a dis-
cussion section that integrates the key messages of this study and initial policy recommendations that would be necessary
for those with the task to build effective and widely acceptable MaaS schemes that create more sustainable and liveable
2. Literature review
This section aims to provide a background for the primary ﬁndings of this study. Relevant points from an emerging, yet
underdeveloped, literature are identiﬁed and synthesised to support the study’s primary research contributions.
2.1. Introducing MaaS trends
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a concept still in its infancy that aims to integrate multimodal transportation options into a
single on-demand mobility service accessible via a single digital interface. Propelled by global trends such as digitalisation
and servitisation, MaaS has rapidly grown in popularity and hype but, due to its novelty, large-scale scope, unprecedented
coordination and collaboration needs and disruptive nature, represents a challenging transition (Smith, Sochor, & Karlsson,
2019). MaaS is a natural ﬁt with a lifestyle emerging among younger generations, who nowadays drive less, are more
enthused about the latest technological products and alternative forms of mobility and are less likely to learn to drive or
own a car (Lyons, Hammond, & Mackay, 2020; Mulley, 2017). Wireless connectivity, technology savviness but also, as
Lee, Circella, Mokhtarian, and Guhathakurta (2019) suggested, the impact of the economic crisis and fundamentally different
travel preferences from those of older birth cohorts led the younger traveller to open up to digitally enabled multimodal
mobility. Yet, those transport services are unimodal in their nature, and create barriers to older users and others discouraged
by the complexities (and uncertainties) associated with such procedures (Kamargianni, Li, Matyas, & Schäfer, 2016), and to
those still resistant to abandon the era of the privately owned vehicle (Nikitas, Njoya, & Dani, 2019).
2.2. MaaS uptake
One of the most prominent examples of operational MaaS platforms is Whim, developed by Finnish start-up MaaS Global
and introduced in Helsinki in 2016. The Whim user can combine, plan, and pay, both in pay-as-you-go or monthly subscrip-
tion forms, for public transport, taxi, car rental, car-sharing and city bike trips. By July 2018, operational for over two years,
Whim had been used by around 45,000 Helsinki residents, which accounts for only 7% of the city’s population (House of
Commons Transport Committee, 2018). Put against Uber alone, Whim appears to be falling behind. Whim is now up and run-
ning in West Midlands, UK, and despite being piloted twice since August 2017, the latest launch of the app received just
around 500 downloads (House of Commons Transport Committee, 2018).
Ho et al. (2018, 2020) studied the potential uptake and willingness to pay for MaaS among 252 transport users in Sydney,
Australia and 290 transport users in Tyneside, UK. The participants, who were ﬁrst introduced to MaaS by viewing a video
explaining the concept, were then to make a distinction between the proposed mobility packages, evolving around their
demographics, personal circumstances and travel patterns, pay-as-you-go option, or no subscription. Interestingly, as many
as 53% of participants in Sydney and 55% of participants in Tyneside chose not to subscribe to MaaS even on a hypothetical
E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381 363
Fioreze, de Gruijter, and Geurs (2019) looked at the willingness to use MaaS in the city of ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.
A survey, which introduced a concept of MaaS through MaaS app screenshots and asked a series of questions focusing on
attitudes towards different transport modes and the intention to use MaaS, was completed by 568 residents of Paleiskwar-
tier, a district of ’s-Hertogenbosch. The ﬁndings indicated that only 20% of participants were, to some degree, willing to use
MaaS be it available to them. As many as 60% of respondents had no interest in using MaaS, while another 20% remained
neutral towards the concept. Another study (Caiati, Rasouli, & Timmermans, 2020), conducted in Netherlands, explored,
through the use of a panel survey, the willingness to subscribe to MaaS among 1078 residents of Amsterdam and Eindhoven.
The study revealed that only in 17% of all choices the participants demonstrated an interest in the MaaS subscription.
2.3. MaaS and travel behaviour
The industry and academia both express excitement about the MaaS approach, due to its promise in facilitating sustain-
able travel behaviour (Matyas & Kamargianni, 2019). Inappropriate consumption of MaaS and the integrated car- and ride-
sharing services, can, however, aggravate transport related sustainability issues. Hensher (2017), for instance, notes that car-
sharing services, rather than making car owners switch to sharing, give access to cars to those who are not in possession of
one, therefore increasing car agglomeration. Rayle, Daia, Chanc, Cervero, and Shaheen (2016) revealed that many car owners
became ride-hailing users simply to avoid the hassle of driving and, otherwise, would drive themselves or take a taxi, while
the study by Shaheen, Cohen, and Zohdy (2016) stated that 75% of ride-sharing users were previous public transport riders.
Fioreze et al. (2019) argued that the people most likely to use MaaS are not frequent car drivers, but people primarily using
public transport; there is, therefore, a risk that by facilitating the use of other modes, such as car-sharing and ride-sharing,
MaaS may induce an adverse effect leading road users to give up public transport, and not their cars, in favour of ride-sharing
trips as it has been the case for Uber and Lyft in major cities. Any shift from public transport to car-centric solutions however
is not in line with what MaaS, in theory at least, is set to achieve, in terms of sustainability gains (Nikitas, Michalakopoulou,
Njoya, & Karampatzakis, 2020).
Kamargianni, Matyas, Li, and Muscat (2018) studied the attitudes of 1570 car-owning and non-car-owning Londoners
towards car ownership and MaaS, and the potential of MaaS to alter their travel behaviour. The respondents did not show
prominent willingness to alter their travel behaviour if equipped with MaaS. Only 33% of car owners agreed MaaS would help
them depend on car less. Even when offered unlimited access to car-sharing with MaaS, 61% of the car owners remained
reluctant to sell their cars, while 64% of non-car owners would not delay buying a car. As many as 22% of all respondents
were willing to substitute public transport trips with taxi when equipped with MaaS. Integrated within MaaS car-sharing
was an attractive public transport trips’ replacement for another 11% of respondents.
Hartikainen, Pitkänen, Riihelä, Räsänen, Sacs, Sirkiä, and Uteng (2019) looked at the potential commonalities and differ-
ences in travel behaviour of an average Helsinki resident against the Whim app user. Whim users appeared to ride public
transport 15% more often than an average Helsinki resident. Yet, the Whim user combined taxis with public transport three
times more often and used taxi alone 2.1 times more often than a typical Helsinki resident, while also showing an increasing
interest in incorporating car rentals into daily trips.
UbiGo was the MaaS web interface piloted to 195 car-owning residents of Gothenburg, Sweden between November 2013
and April 2014. The platform offered its users access to combinations of various transport modes in a form of monthly pack-
age, for a subscription fee starting at
135 per month. At the end of the pilot, 64% of all participants used private car less.
Abnegating personal car use, though, was the precondition of participation in the UbiGo experiment. The reduction in private
car use caused an increase in the use of bus and tram services, local railways and bike-sharing with accordingly 50%, 18% and
23% of participants using the services more often. However, non-private cars faced even greater interest: as many as 57% of
participants used car-sharing services more frequently and another 20% of participants reported the increase in the use of
taxi (Karlsson, Sochor, & Strömberg, 2016; Sochor et al., 2015, 2016).
Another pilot study (Storme et al., 2020) took place in Ghent, Belgium with 73 car owners using a MaaS application for
two and a half months. Study participants were given free access to MaaS packages of value varying between
and were asked to minimise their car use to the largest possible extent, with it being penalised at
0.50/km and deducted
from the value of their MaaS package. Despite the strict rules, participants demonstrated rather unsustainable behaviours: a
third of all MaaS budget offered to participants was spent on the use of personal cars whilst another third was used to access
car-sharing services. Over the study period participants purchased a total of 545 bus and tram tickets and 162 train tickets,
which refer roughly to just four public transport trips per participant per month.
2.4. Research gaps
While the number of studies on the potential uptake of MaaS and its impacts on travel behaviour is slowly developing,
there is little research examining the reasons behind such low rates of MaaS acceptance and shift to public and active trans-
port. Some of the recognised-to-date underpinnings of MaaS acceptance on user level include: added value (Fioreze et al.,
2019); car convenience and the associated comfort, ease of planning, and the need to chauffer dependants (Fioreze et al.,
2019; Polydoropoulou, Pagoni, & Tsirimpa, 2018; Storme et al., 2020); perceived usefulness and ease of use of MaaS platform,
the hedonic motives, previous experiences, and the motivation to achieve autonomy, competence and relatedness to like-
minded people (Schikofsky, Dannewald, & Kowald, 2020); social inﬂuences (Caiati et al., 2020); digitalisation in the popula-
364 E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381
tion, reliance on internet and mobile devices, integration, personalisation, compatibility and trust in monetary transactions
(Polydoropoulou et al., 2018); and cost (Caiati et al., 2020; Ho et al., 2020; Karlsson et al., 2020). Our study will focus on gen-
erating more insights about the expected consequences MaaS may have on the ability to travel more sustainably, exploring
the determinants of sustainable MaaS uptake on user level that the existing literature has not yet identiﬁed or paid enough
attention to, and offer recommendations on how to promote sustainable travel through MaaS.
3. Research methodology
3.1. The choice of semi-structured interviews
This study aims to explore the barriers and facilitators of MaaS acceptance and uptake on the user level and to generate
insights about the expected consequences MaaS may have on the ability to travel more sustainably, which implies the use of
a qualitative approach. Qualitative methods have been scarcely used in the MaaS literature despite the important role these
can play in travel behaviour analysis grounds (Matyas, 2020). Individual semi-structured interviews, based on an interview
guide but at the same time allowing some ﬂexibility in the questioning approach, were chosen over other qualitative meth-
ods as they, although laborious, allow researchers to get rich data (Walle, 2015) and understand the reasons for the decisions
individuals make by capturing their attitudes and opinions (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2016, p. 394). The interview guide,
a data collection instrument designed to improve consistency between different interview sessions, had six parts: introduc-
tion; individual demographics; current travel practices and attitudes towards different transport modes; familiarising with
MaaS through an infographic; attitudes towards MaaS; and summing up. The interview guide is available in the Appendix A.
The interviews were fully recorded and transcribed solely by the authors to ensure accuracy of the insights given by each
3.2. The use of infographic
In order to explain the concept of MaaS to our study participants and aid the interviewing process, a literature-infused
infographic (Fig. 1) was developed adopting key MaaS characteristics as presented in Jittrapirom et al. (2017) and Mulley
(2017). Infographics provide an engaging visual display communication tool that offers to researchers the ability to present
intense and sophisticated information on a certain subject in a more comprehensible manner (Dur, 2014). The infographic
contains the textual conceptual description of MaaS as well as some graphic MaaS elements, such as a hypothetical app
mock-up. Similar methods aiding data elicitation were previously applied in MaaS related research. For example,
Schikofsky et al. (2020) used a conceptual description of MaaS to make focus groups participants aware of MaaS and its func-
tionalities. The authors then enhanced conceptual description with MaaS app mock-ups to aid the data collection through a
survey. Similarly, Fioreze et al. (2019) used conceptual description and MaaS app mock-ups to explain the concept to their
We aimed to be value-neutral in the way we presented MaaS features in our infographic. MaaS as a concept was
explained using four conceptual features, each supplied with a brief description in the infographic: consolidated transport
offering; all-in-one digital platform; payment options; and effective cooperation. We then also described the MaaS experi-
ence as a ﬁve-step process of: creating account; planning the journey; booking and paying for travel; accessing transport
modes; and resolving on-route issues. During the interview, participants were given an opportunity to ask questions in case
something in the infographic appeared ambiguous to them.
3.3. Study locations
This study focuses on three geographical areas in the UK, namely London, Birmingham and Huddersﬁeld (see Fig. 2). With
its population being close to 9 million in 2019 (ONS, 2019) London is the largest city in the UK. Despite the highly developed
transportation system in place and the introduction of congestion charging and Ultra Low Emission zone, London remains
the most congested city in the UK with 227 h lost in congestion per capita on annual basis (INRIX, 2018), and also one of
the most car-centric cities with 2.66 million privately owned cars registered to its residents (Statista, 2020). Birmingham
is the second largest British city by population with over a million inhabitants (ONS, 2019), and the 12th most congested
city in the country with 134 h lost in congestion per capita in 2017 (INRIX, 2018). Birmingham is of particular interest to
this study because it currently serves as a pilot ground for Whim app, the most well-known active MaaS scheme. Hudder-
sﬁeld is Kirklees’ biggest town in West Yorkshire, with close to 150,000 inhabitants (Kirklees Council, 2019) and is home to
the fourth most congested transport corridor in the UK outside London, the Huddersﬁeld Road (INRIX, 2018). So, located in
the South, the Midlands and the North of England, these geographical locations differ signiﬁcantly in size and transportation,
offering a study cohort that includes a metropolis, a city and a town, all suffering from high levels of congestion, largely inﬂu-
enced by residents’ car-centric behaviours. This choice facilitates capturing a diversity of views on MaaS and how these
potentially align with key built environment speciﬁcs and urban planning considerations.
E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381 365
3.4. Sampling approach and recruitment
Given the explorative nature of this study and, thus, needlessness of statistical inferences about the characteristics of
studied population (Saunders et al., 2016, p. 276), non-probability sampling was used. The participants were not incentivised
in any way to take part in this study. The prerequisite for participant selection included the residency in one of the chosen
study locations and daily travel activity. Achieving a diverse sample in age, gender, family status, educational background,
Fig. 1. Infographic explaining MaaS.
366 E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381
employment types, levels of income and, obviously, household car ownership was also a consideration. Self-selection tech-
nique, where individuals chose to take part in the study on their own accord once the latter was advertised to them via social
media platforms and e-mail distribution lists, was used to recruit 21 of the participants. The other 19 participants were
recruited through a snowballing technique: the already recruited participants suggested future participants from among
their acquaintances. Saunders et al. (2016, p. 297) suggest that the minimum non-probability sample size for semi-
structured interviews should be between 5 and 25, which this study has signiﬁcantly exceeded. It is important to note,
though, that it was not the number of participants the interviewing process focused on but rather reaching the point of sat-
uration where the collected data began to provide little, if any, new information. Prior the interview, study participants were
contacted via e-mail and were provided with a participant information sheet explaining the nature of the study, a consent
form that would allow us to record, store, transcribe and use the interview output solely for academic and research purposes,
and the MaaS infographic. In this pre-interview correspondence, our participants were also given an opportunity to select
the convenient date and time for the interview as well their preferred means of communication: face-to-face, skype or
Table 1 lists the key characteristics of the participants providing their demographic information, and the presence of car
within household. Participant ID consists of the location identiﬁer (L for London, B for Birmingham, and H for Huddersﬁeld)
and the associated participant number. Thereby, this qualitative study is based on interviews with 40 road users living in the
UK, 14 from London, 12 from Birmingham, and 14 from Huddersﬁeld. The study largely focuses on car-owners, though, non-
car-owners also took part for enabling a better identiﬁcation of possible unsustainable side-effects referring to people that
may actually see MaaS as an opportunity to access cars on a more frequent basis.
Fig. 2. Study locations.
E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381 367
3.5. Method of analysis
Inspired by the six-step Thematic Analysis approach proposed by Braun and Clarke (2006) this work adopts the system-
atic line of work of Nikitas et al. (2018, 2019). Thematic Analysis is a method for identifying, organising, and offering insights
into patterns of themes across several items of qualitative data. It provides the mechanics of systematically coding and ana-
lysing data and linking it to broader theoretical concepts.
Sample characteristics of study participants.
ID Gender Age Marital Status Children Driving
Household Income (Monthly
L01 Male 28 Single None Yes None Master’s Employed FT £3,200
L02 Male 50 Married 2 Yes 1 Bachelor’s Employed FT £5,500
L03 Male 48 Domestic
5 Yes 4 Secondary
Employed FT £4,600
L04 Male 35 Domestic
None Yes 1 Bachelor’s Employed FT £6,500
L05 Female 39 Domestic
1 Yes 2 Master’s Employed FT £6,500
L06 Female 36 Married None No 1 Secondary
Employed FT £4,600
L07 Female 28 Single None Yes None Master’s Employed FT £1,800
L08 Male 53 Single None Yes 1 Bachelor’s Employed FT £3,600
L09 Male 31 Domestic
None Yes 1 Master’s Employed FT £3,200
L10 Female 34 Married None Yes 2 Secondary
Employed FT £6,500
L11 Male 35 Married 2 Yes 1 Master’s Employed FT £5,000
L12 Male 48 Married 2 Yes 1 Secondary
Employed FT £5,500
L13 Male 27 Domestic
None Yes None Master’s Employed FT £6,500
L14 Male 28 Single None Yes 1 Master’s Employed FT £3,200
B01 Female 27 Domestic
None Yes 1 Secondary
Employed FT £1,500
B02 Male 64 Married 2 Yes 1 Secondary
Employed FT £1,300
B03 Male 32 Single None Yes None Doctorate Employed PT £2,000
B04 Male 29 Single None Yes None Doctorate Employed FT £2,300
B05 Male 27 Single None Yes 1 Secondary
Employed FT £3,800
B06 Female 24 Single None Yes 1 Master’s Employed FT £2,000
B07 Female 29 Domestic
None Yes 1 Bachelor’s Employed FT £3,400
B08 Male 36 Married 2 Yes 1 Doctorate Employed FT £2,600
B09 Male 39 Single None Yes None Master’s Employed FT £2,600
B10 Female 34 Married 3 Yes 2 Master’s Student £5,000
B11 Male 36 Married 3 Yes 1 Bachelor’s Employed FT £2,600
B12 Male 20 Single None Yes 1 Secondary
H01 Female 26 Married 1 No 1 Master’s Student £1,900
H02 Female 36 Married 2 No 1 Doctorate Employed FT £3,000
H03 Female 51 Married 2 Yes 2 Master’s Employed FT £3,000
H04 Female 53 Domestic
None Yes 2 Doctorate Employed FT £3,000
H05 Male 24 Single None Yes 1 Secondary
H06 Male 29 Single None Yes 3 Master’s Employed FT £8,000
H07 Male 56 Single 5 Yes 1 Secondary
H08 Male 41 Married 1 Yes 1 Master’s Employed PT £2,000
H09 Male 28 Married None Yes 1 Master’s Employed FT £2,000
H10 Male 25 Married 1 Yes 1 Master’s Employed FT £1,900
H11 Female 25 Domestic
None Yes 1 Bachelor’s Employed PT £1,000
H12 Male 19 Single None Yes 1 Secondary
H13 Male 24 Domestic
1 Yes 1 Master’s Student £1,500
H14 Male 36 Married 2 Yes 1 Doctorate Employed FT £3,000
368 E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381
The interviews were conducted, transcribed and analysed by the authors. The analysis procedure included: fully tran-
scribing the interviews; familiarising with written data and identifying codes; searching, reviewing and deﬁning themes;
and, ultimately, generating ﬁndings. The coding and theme identiﬁcation processes in this analysis were data-driven to les-
sen analyst-oriented biases. The identiﬁed key themes and their sub-themes were linked to the theoretical literature upon
completion of the analysis and not prior. The coding process was performed manually through repeated reading of and mak-
ing notes on interview transcripts. Therefore, every one of the 40 transcripts were fully coded, with some data extracts, or
quotes, falling under more than one code. Next, an Excel spreadsheet was created for organising the codes and matching data
extracts, with surrounding data kept in order to maintain the context, into a manageable format for theme identiﬁcation. The
codes, and the related extracts, were then scrutinised, and combined to form overarching themes repeatedly to ensure that
the ﬁnal thematic map thoroughly meets the research aims of the study. It is important to note that the themes were not
built by looking for the wealth of textual evidence but, as also approached by Nikitas, Wang, and Knamiller (2019), by iden-
tifying structures within the data that have an explanatory capacity. To ensure reliability and avoid bias, the three authors
analysed the data independently for the coding stage and then compared and synthesised their independent coding analyses
to create a single ‘‘bigger-picture’’ narrative. During the synthesis procedure we reached a 90% consensus on the codes that
were eventually the building blocks of our themes; this very high intercoder reliability helped us triangulate and validate our
During the theme identiﬁcation process, it became obvious that, although some extracts belong to the same theme, they
interpret different, at times contradicting, theme dimensions. Moreover, as on occasion the extracts matched more than one
theme, some of the themes also appear logically interlinked. There were also a few cases where two different sub-themes
both discussed a speciﬁc agenda from an entirely different angle like, for example, capacity and user behaviour risks, using
quotes that might represent two entirely different viewpoints. Braun and Clarke (2006) suggest that the themes and relation-
ships among them do not have to smooth out or ignore but instead retain the tensions and inconsistencies within and across
data, which our study has conformed to.
When writing up, the main considerations were to provide ‘‘a concise, coherent, logical, non-repetitive and interesting
account of the story the data tell” (Braun & Clarke, 2006) and to demonstrate prevalence of the themes by selecting the most
characteristic and convincing individual responses (Nikitas et al., 2018;Vaismoradi et al., 2013). Therefore, the ﬁndings of
this study, presented in the following section, will take a form of a narrative with Themes and sub-themes signposted in bold
and bold italics accordingly and followed by raw data extracts which capture the essence of the point demonstrated in the
narrative. These selected participant quotes are presented in italics so that they can be easily separated by our analysis com-
mentary. The ﬁndings will then be linked to theoretical literature in the Discussion section.
There were ﬁve core themes that our analysis identiﬁed as critical determinants underpinning MaaS acceptance and suc-
cess: Car Dependence; Trust; Human Element Externalities; Value; and Cost. Each of them has distinctive dimensions,
expressed as their sub-themes, that affect and reﬂect user intention to commit to sustainable travel with MaaS.
4.1. Overview of ﬁndings
None of the study participants had previous knowledge about MaaS, yet, the majority had used various travel apps, and
therefore, when reading through the speculative infographic, easily comprehended the nature of the concept. Attitudes
towards MaaS were largely positive with study participants demonstrating willingness to accept, or at least to consider using
MaaS for travel once it is available to them.
B06: ‘‘I think it’s a good idea, and I would use it.”
L09: ‘‘I like the concept of it, though. I think it’s a good idea.”
The acceptance and potential application of MaaS, however, came in many different forms, inﬂuenced by a variety of fac-
tors emerging from car ownership and use, technology intricacies and the nitty-gritty of non-car travel.
4.2. Car Dependence
The theme of Car Dependence in this analysis reveals the effects of MaaS on participants’ bonds with cars and car related
travel decisions. MaaS was viewed for many through the lens of owning a car:
B05:‘‘I like my car, and it is fun. Would you give up your shoes if you were offered a pair of sandals?”
B01: ‘‘I think a lot of people get used to the comfort of cars, and it is very difﬁcult to change this. Now that I don’t have a car, I
would absolutely use MaaS.”
Indisputably, MaaS showed the potential to induce modal shift considerations. Some participants, after familiarising with
possible features that MaaS has to offer, assumed they could cease car use:
L02: ‘‘If MaaS is as good as it says and my personal time isn’t impacted greatly, then it makes sense and I don’t really need a car.”
E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381 369
L14: ‘‘I would consider giving up my car, that’s for sure. MaaS could eliminate the need for car.”
Others, although accepting the possibility to change the way they travel and to reduce car use, pulled out quasi-
L03: ‘‘I would deﬁnitely try and use MaaS more. I guess I’d use more taxis and possibly car-sharing. I never used car-sharing
before, but I would try that. Ride-sharing maybe not as much!‘‘
L07: ‘‘To be honest, if I could use those ZipCars, for example, I would much rather do that than have a car myself.”
Some participants took a stance where their decision to own and use a car could not be inﬂuenced altogether:
B11: ‘‘All things being equal, if my health is okay, and I am not banned from driving, for me MaaS would be a no.”
B04: ‘‘I and a lot of people would not hold back from buying a car, no matter what alternative is presented.”
Yet, while MaaS did not seem to be able to fully substitute car use for every individual, partial substitution was thought
B07: ‘‘I would be interested in using this as well as having my own car.”
H07: ‘‘I would probably reduce the amount of times I use my own car.”
It was practically unanimous that MaaS could not replicate the convenience of a private car:
B03: ‘‘MaaS might affect the frequency of my driving. Yet, it will not change my mind from driving because it doesn’t resolve all
the issues that push me to drive.‘‘
The convenience of car was particularly valued in terms of control over the journey, independence from timetable, and
privacy the car allows its owner to have as well as for family travel, travel with luggage, and cases of emergency:
H10: ‘‘I don’t have to wait around for other transport means. If I go shopping, I have the entire boot to put everything in it. I can
plan my own trip when I want it, so I don’t depend on any other time constraints from other transport means.”
B12: ‘‘If you are in your car, even with friends, you are not sharing with other people, with strangers.‘‘
L09: ‘‘If there was an emergency, whatever that might be, a trip to a hospital or going to see someone quickly, you’ve got your
own car, you can drop everything and go, whereas with MaaS there is always going to be a lag.”
B08: ‘‘I think the convenience and the comfort for my family is more important. For that, I would not want to swap my personal
car for MaaS.”
The car came across as a preferred transport option not only because of the convenience but also because of the general
enjoyment of its ‘‘personal space” aspect as well as of ownership and use:
L13: ‘‘I generally enjoy cars. From a linear point of view, you can view cars plainly as transport, but they can be for enjoyment,
they can be for general social aspects. They are a trend.”
B06: ‘‘I just got my car in January, so it’s like my little baby at the moment, and I love it.”
H08: ‘‘It is also self-esteem to some extent because if you’re driving a car, if you are satisﬁed with the car, if you drive the car you
really like, that becomes the point of it. That’s what we are looking for in our life. It’s a way of treating ourselves.”
The context of morality came up too. Sustainability indifference and misinterpretation of the impacts of car use on soci-
ety and environment were yet another explanation to the pursuit of driving habits:
L10: ‘‘Whilst I am very aware that there is a problem, it’s not a big enough problem for me to say that I’m not going to use my car
B11: ‘‘If everyone uses a car that is environmentally safe in terms of emissions it produces, like I do, then we would have a safer
environment. So, on my part I know that I use something environmentally friendly.”
Car-related sustainability concerns, however, resulted not only in cognitive dissonance in individuals when deciding to
drive but also a change in travel practices:
H08: ‘‘Recently the British government announced that diesel cars are rather dangerous, and because I’ve got one, that makes
me a bit uncomfortable.”
H03: ‘‘I’m challenged quite often because I do have an interest in sustainability, but I also like to drive.”
B10: ‘‘Whenever I go to university, I would call a colleague of mine and tell her in advance that I’m going, say, tomorrow and ask
whether she would like to join. She doesn’t pay me for it, by the way, but I feel good doing it.”
H05: ‘‘Cars are noisy, and pollutants are smelly. It’s not ideal. I try to cycle in cities, or walk, or use public transport.”
Therefore, concerns around diverse sustainability implications were likely to have a positive inﬂuence on the uptake of
MaaS as users saw it as a tool that would help them travel in a more sustainable manner:
L05: ‘‘It would be interesting to actually put something there [in MaaS] that would tell you about the carbon footprint of each
travel mode. I think that would be a bit of an eye-opener for some people and maybe inﬂuence their decision.”
H03: ‘‘Going back to the sustainability thing, using MaaS would make me feel like I was contributing more to maintaining
370 E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381
B09: ‘‘If there was a proper service like this [MaaS], which could locate other users at the same area where I am and match the
destinations, I would rather do that for all the environmental and social reasons.”
Trust in this analysis developed as a factor explaining how perceptions of MaaS’ functionality inﬂuence its acceptance and
viability as a travel mechanism. While on a theoretical level MaaS generated a great deal of enthusiasm among study par-
ticipants, many of them did not trust that the concept could actually work as advertised:
L13: ‘‘It’s the release of a new service, and then how much trust would you have in it to deliver? If it had any sort of issues, then
you’d be left to your old ways of doing things.”
B01: ‘‘If I could just get to work in the morning by, say, Uber, after work take a bus to the train station, get down to London by
train and then travel around there, and it all would be for that one ﬁxed monthly price, it would be great, but I ﬁnd it hard to
believe. I don’t believe it’s possible.”
To make sure that the ‘‘impossible” is achieved and MaaS delivers on its promise some participants demonstrated the
need for trialling the tool:
B04: ‘‘I can actually use this service to test the accuracy in the city I live, with travel routes that I’m conﬁdent of, and if I see it is
very accurate, then I could travel from Birmingham to, say, Leeds, and I’d want to use MaaS.”
Many interviewees doubted the efﬁciency of MaaS. Some participants, certain of their transport knowledge and planning
capabilities, demonstrated a strong sense of self-efﬁcacy and, thus, did not believe that MaaS could do better than them:
L04: ‘‘I can probably work out all my alternative routes quicker in my head than this app can.”
L12: ‘‘The only thing I ﬁnd with using apps is when you’ve got an idea of a system, and you go on the app, and you go ‘‘how am I
getting from A to B?”and the app tells you to go there, and you go there. And I think, well, actually, if I go that way it’s better
because it’s cheaper, but because it’s a minute longer than the other way, the app will tend to give you the quickest time, and it’s
not necessarily as ﬂexible and giving you as many options.”
The above partially occurred as participants doubted MaaS information would be always accurate:
L09: ‘‘I think with the on-route issues often the information that comes through is poor, and that’s exactly the reason why, if
something happens, no one quite knows what’s gone wrong and why. And then you almost end up making that decision
Participants expressed capacity concerns suggesting that MaaS may offer limited alternatives, or reduced capacity in
H08: ‘‘If we imagine that everyone uses MaaS, we then need more public transport in terms of numbers; we need more taxis,
buses, because everyone would use it. I’m thinking about peak times. If you want to book a taxi around school time in the morn-
ing, you won’t be able to do it because it’s so busy. If many people abandoned their cars, such things could become more
H11: ‘‘On the bus or on the train, you’d have to worry if you’d get a seat or not, if it’s a long journey.”
It was acknowledged by participants that trusting the technology could become yet another challenge when travelling
with MaaS. Participants thought of MaaS as an app-based tool, which induced concerns about simple practicalities like
mobile phone battery life, network coverage, and inclusion of all modes under the MaaS umbrella:
H05: ‘‘If your phone is not charged, you can’t get access to it [MaaS], and then you’re lost. You can’t just rely on it.”
H02: ‘‘The only thing is Wi-Fi, the internet connection.”
B12: ‘‘You expect everything to be seamless, but then you turn up on a bus and they say they don’t accept MaaS.”
Some also demonstrated their concerns about possible cybersecurity threats that could affect MaaS systems:
L06: ‘‘It’s asking for payment through the app, and I would want some kind of reassurance that this is ﬁne.”
L07: ‘‘If something goes wrong with it, if payments are charged when they shouldn’t be or if there is overpayment or anything
like that, people might not want to rely on it.”
H07: ‘‘It could endanger lives one way or another if the hackers, terrorists break into this system [MaaS].”
The trust in MaaS and its capabilities were also largely inﬂuenced by the individual state of digital readiness, which
appeared to be shaped by one’s age and innovativeness:
H12: ‘‘I suppose people who are a little bit older would probably struggle with the concept of using a mobile phone app to access
different transport modes.”
B05: ‘‘I don’t think my brother has ever even used Uber. He calls taxis because he is not very good with phones.”
E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381 371
4.4. Human element externalities
The participants worried that MaaS would be operating in a framework deﬁned by negative aspects of human behaviour
that can be traced in the user and provider levels including negligence, discourtesy and disobedience. These issues come
under the umbrella term Human Element Externalities. This is a theme that highlights some of the grey areas for the tran-
sition to a MaaS-based transport paradigm that relate to social environment barriers.
B01: ‘‘The problem is not with the transport itself. The problem is with people.‘‘
Participants worried about receiving honest, safe and reliable service due to having already experienced the negligence of
those who cater for them, which is not guaranteed to be battled through MaaS:
L13: ‘‘Will those offering driving services be malicious and want to go via routes that take longer and cost you more purposely to
get more money?”
B07: ‘‘The reason I would still use a car over this would be independence. With MaaS you’re still reliant on people, you’re still
reliant on someone for a taxi, a bus, a train, and anything can happen.”
L04: ‘‘They [drivers] don’t really care. They, most of the time, just ﬂy about, and not safely, to get you there as quickly as possible.
I think they can cancel on you quite easily, there is no repercussions. You’re completely in their hands. I’ve been in some pretty
scary journeys in different parts of the world, where I wasn’t sure if I was going to live or die because drivers were mental.”
Participants also discussed the negative impact discourtesy of other transport users has on their transport related expe-
riences. A few talked about fellow travellers being inconsiderate of others’ personal space, privacy and the need for peace and
H01: ‘‘And then, there are other people on the bus: some are considerate and think about the fact that they are not alone, and
then others can listen to loud music or talk as if they were on their own on that bus, and everyone has to listen to their plans or
whatever they did.”
H04: ‘‘If the train was nice and quiet, it would be great. But you know, if it’s really busy, you can’t get a seat, and that’s a pain,
and then obviously if it’s full of noisy people you can’t concentrate on reading.‘‘
People abusing the rules and the infrastructure put in place for everyone’s good, thus demonstrating abuse and disobe-
dience, could also become an issue even in the MaaS era:
B07: ‘‘For me buses are just not well looked after, you’ve got a lot of abusive people on there, you’ve got some people smoking in
the back though smoking is clearly not allowed. There are also regular attacks on the bus against women.”
B05: ‘‘Public transport is usually full of young people coming from parties, and they like to swear and smash stuff.”
B12: ‘‘It’s all about the way people behave. People should understand rules, otherwise they will make things inefﬁcient.‘‘
B02: ‘‘A lot of people cannot even drive their own cars, so they are not going to drive nicely somebody else’s car that’s not their
Consequently, many anticipated that travelling by non-private transport could impose danger to their health and well-
being, and even life, which makes them reluctant to sharing the travel with others:
H11: ‘‘At the train station, you get all these drugged, drunk people late at night, and if you’re arriving late and waiting for your
taxi there, then you’re susceptible to harm. Not that you would deﬁnitely get harmed, but it puts that fear in your head, that it’s
really dark, the train station staff are not there, and you might have your possessions with you, like laptops, so you might feel
more susceptible to harm.”
L10: ‘‘I’m not very good with the sole security element, with not knowing who I’m with. I don’t know how I feel about sharing.”
B05: ‘‘The area of my work is not nice, and you wouldn’t want to be on a bus there, unfortunately, unless you’ve got a stab-proof
This theme discusses what users would Value when shifting to a MaaS-dictated travel paradigm; the things that make a
difference and the beneﬁts those could bring to the logistics of their trips.
Whilst being challenging for a few, the appiﬁcation of travel planning with MaaS was what excited many participants and
was even referred to as a major selling point as it was something they were already accustomed to:
L08: ‘‘MaaS being an app is one of its major selling points I would have thought.”
H02: ‘‘It’s easy enough. Anyone these days has a phone that can support it. I already have a few apps on my phone.”
The integration of a variety of transport options with information, booking and payment services in MaaS was perceived
as another value-adding opportunity, making travel easier and more accessible even to those who are older and not techno-
372 E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381
B03: ‘‘It makes things much more convenient because you are able to get everything in one particular point. You are able to get
information, you are able to get payments, and you are able to get tickets for the different services that you might be using.”
L12: ‘‘Trying to ﬁnd out the local bus operator, you might need to ﬁnd their app, or use Google, so that takes time. If there was an
app that gave you the opportunity to easily search for any location, without having to resort to different operators and stuff, that
would be of interest to use. [...] Someone who’s older or not so strong with IT, might struggle with MaaS. But then they would
also struggle to ﬁnd a local bus operator in a different town.‘‘
The integration feature tempted participants to consider a change in their travel routine, thus showing potential to break
H05: ‘‘It might encourage people, if it’s aimed that way, to walk or cycle more, if it could take them through routes which are
more walking- and cycling- friendly.”
L02: ‘‘If you go shopping on a Saturday, instead of parking the car, if you book a taxi normally you would wait for it 10–15 min,
do your shopping, book another taxi, wait another 10–15 min, whereas using this, you could walk a bit to the bus, get a bus, do
the shopping, and then get a taxi because you have stuff to carry potentially. Or by the sounds of it, you could actually have it
saying ‘‘well, you can get a bus now instead of a taxi”. So, I think it might make a more engaged experience, the fact that you can
go ‘‘let’s try that or that or that”.”
B05: ‘‘If I had MaaS and I could ﬁnd a ride share that goes to my work, I would never drive. I could completely stop driving and
ﬁnd an easy way to get there cheaper and simpler.”
Much thought was given to the analytics behind MaaS systems. Participants speculated that the data MaaS gathers from
its users could be employed, one way or another, in improving travel experience. A few spoke about the ability of MaaS to
L05: ‘‘I think, in terms of trains, they could do some research and actually let you know on what train you are likely to get a seat,
or at what time it is going to be less busy. That would probably be quite beneﬁcial because that could inﬂuence your decision
positively if you knew the train that has actually got seats.”
L14: ‘‘It could be useful if this system had all this data about all the individual journeys taking place at the same time, so they
could all be interrelated to each other depending on where everybody is going and where from. Say, there could be a hundred
people trying to get from A to B. It could then start making decisions for everyone, so that not everyone goes from A to B the
same way as that would cause problems. So, by understanding what journeys people are trying to make, this system could elim-
inate bottlenecks potentially.”
Participants also speculated that MaaS could, at least to some extent, eliminate the risks associated with service and other
users by allowing to create accounts and give feedback:
B09: ‘‘It’s the safety the application provides. All the accounts are connected to the user, so there is transparency. If something
happens, you are able to identify and locate the person who was responsible for the issue occurred.”
B04: ‘‘Another positive is that you can use feedback systems to rate your experience with every driver: it is an incentive for the
drivers to be well-behaved because they know that the negative feedback will affect their own service.”
H10: ‘‘I think they should cover everything, not just the car, but also the people you share that car with. You may feel a bit safer
Ultimately, by rationally processing user data, MaaS could become a socially inclusive transport tool and create a more
enjoyable travel experience:
L04: ‘‘MaaS might make transportation become more social, which at the moment is not. So, you end up on trains where every-
one is very passive aggressive, or just aggressive, people don’t really talk to each other. You might end up with more people who
travel together and enjoy their journey a little bit more.”
It was for the purpose of leisure and tourism MaaS was found most useful as it would allow to easily get around unfa-
miliar places and do long-distance trips:
L06: ‘‘This sort of app would be really helpful for me, going to places and destinations I’m not really familiar with.”
H02: ‘‘For a long-distance trip, though, I would use it, and that would be interesting.”
H05: ‘‘If it had points of interest or something like that, the things you could do when you get off that transport. It’s like when
you go into a new city, it could offer you bus tours and include that. Rather than just having transport offering across the city,
you can go here and then see something.”
All of the above, however would mean nothing, as stated by participants, if the level of service provision, for public trans-
port in particular, remains as it is at present:
H13: ‘‘I get where other people come from, like they live in the middle of the town and they could get the bus quite easily, but I
come from quite a rural area, so I am dependant on that car.”
B07: ‘‘If I’d like to get in the centre of Birmingham, I would usually go on a train, not drive, whereas if I was going to the Isle of
Skye in Scotland, I’d drive instead of getting a train if you know what I mean.”
E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381 373
B09: ‘‘At times I would so much rather use the car if I had one, but this thought is highly connected to the quality of public trans-
Thus, the true value of MaaS is in providing users with a robust transportation network that encourages public transport
and meets their everyday needs:
H14: ‘‘On a Sunday there is a bus only every 30 min, so of course I usually use my car. If MaaS offered me the ﬂexibility of the
public transport and a better frequency, then I might use that instead. If on a Sunday it is still difﬁcult to do that, then MaaS
makes no sense. I would want that to be 24/7 the same. Public transport is not the same 24/7. That guarantee that I would have
the opportunity to use public transport whenever I want, that would be something.‘‘
L09: ‘‘Encourage public transport networks that work with each other, that serve what people actually want, that run late in the
night, that run at weekends, a bus that departs 5 min after a train arrives. You can’t do this anymore in this country. We have
lost that ability of actually getting everything to interwork with each other but that would actually make a big difference in
choices people make.‘‘
The Cost of MaaS was projected to be perhaps the most critical factor for its uptake. Although there was a speciﬁc cost
related question within the interview guide, cost as an inﬂuencing factor appeared in the responses long before the question
was asked. So, the following were some of the responses to the question on whether the participants were willing to use
MaaS at the start of the interview:
H01: ‘‘My decision would probably depend on price.”
L11: ‘‘It depends on the cost.”
H14: ‘‘If MaaS was more expensive than what I am doing, I don’t think I would even try it.”
The ways participants expressed their views on what the cost of MaaS should be took many different directions. One of
the ways to express the acceptable cost of MaaS was to do benchmarking against status quo. Some participants wanted to
see the cost of their travel reduced:
H13: ‘‘I would use it if it worked out cheaper than going individually, like if I took a taxi to Huddersﬁeld centre, it would be one
price, but if it was a taxi and a bus ride it would be cheaper. Then I’d be more inclined to use it.”
L01: ‘‘I am topping up my Oyster card £30 a week and that’s to cover all my transport. So, I would want to see that reduced.”
Though it was noted that ﬁxed costs of car ownership and use were often neglected when choosing to drive, car users
speciﬁcally noted that travelling with MaaS should work out cheaper than using their own car:
H03: ‘‘If MaaS didn’t make my trip more cost-effective, then I would question why I am using it really. So, I would expect it to be
less expensive than using my own car. But then, if you were to weigh up all the ﬁxed costs of having your own car, then I think it
will be cheaper because you don’t have to pay for all the outlay of the car, the insurance, and everything that goes with it.”
L03: ‘‘MaaS would need to work out cheaper than the car.”
H12: ‘‘It is like £25 for me to get home on a train. If it was the same with MaaS, I would probably just get in my car.”
Some participants appreciated the fact that MaaS was providing them not only with transportation, but also the bundling,
payment and guidance services, for which they were ready to pay:
L10: ‘‘I think I’d be willing to pay a little bit extra to get the full service.”
B06: ‘‘I think people would pay that little bit more because it does more, and I’d be ready to pay a little bit more.”
Many discussed the importance of time against the cost and would like to see that factored in:
L08: ‘‘Comparing the costs would certainly be interesting as well as comparing the journey times.”
L11: ‘‘Say, I’m going from A to B, and it normally takes me an hour. I can go with MaaS if it takes me an hour and 10 min. I
wouldn’t mind the 10 min as long as it’s cheaper.”
B02: ‘‘If a trip was going to cost me less and take roughly the same amount of time, I would use MaaS.”
While some study participants were ready to pay for the digital services MaaS provided, others considered it unjust and
developed a ‘‘Why to pay? Can do myself”’ attitude:
B04: ‘‘If I see that in the end this works out, say, £10 more expensive than just using Google maps and doing it yourself, like
dealing with Virgin trains and so on, me and other people will just go for a cheaper option, because the more travel is done
by a more cost-effective option, the more you would end up saving as well.”
H04: ‘‘If that was a journey that I could easily do myself and that journey was going to be a lot more expensive through MaaS,
then I perhaps would be inclined to just do it myself.‘‘
A number of proposals to provide MaaS users with ﬁnancial incentives,reliefs and motives within the pricing structure in
order to inﬂuence their travel behaviour occurred. Some spoke about incentivising users through the app:
374 E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381
L05: ‘‘If you were to pick one way, and you had a train, for example, would you get a discount for using the train through the app
because you are choosing to do that over taking your own car? I think that would inﬂuence people.”
B05: ‘‘You could give people bonuses, something like reward points every now and then: a free trip after 10 trips done with
MaaS, or a free mile after every 100 miles travelled. Give people an incentive to use it. Bribe them. Freebies usually work.”
L08: ‘‘If you wanted this to take off in any sort of big numbers, then you have to be very careful of what you offer because a lot of
people only want things that are free.”
The government interference, with both ‘‘push” and ‘‘pull” pricing measures, was also considered a mechanism to inﬂu-
ence participants’ decision to use MaaS:
L02: ‘‘The government should offer credits, where you get your money back, or you’re not taxed as much because you don’t have
a personal car. If you pay £100 for your car emissions, then you’re not paying it, but maybe you should get a ﬂipside where they
say ”ok, because you use MaaS you get some return as an incentive.‘‘
H09: ‘‘If they would make travelling by my own car, like through taxes, extremely, unbearably expensive, then I would be forced
to use public transport, but I wouldn’t like to see that. But it can be an option the government could look at, increasing the cost of
owning a car, and that could push people to use MaaS.”
Our study identiﬁes and analyses the ﬁve key themes that underpin MaaS and its potential to inspire (or not) travel beha-
vioural change. Car dependence, Trust, Human Element Externalities, Value and Cost, each with a number of distinctive
dimensions expressed as their sub-themes, shown on Fig. 3, in cases interlinked and difﬁcult to isolate per se, underpin peo-
ple’s acceptance and potential uptake of MaaS.
Fig. 3. Factors affecting acceptance and uptake of MaaS as a sustainable travel mechanism.
E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381 375
While the idea of MaaS received generally positive commentary, with participants willing to see the system in action,
many still looked at MaaS through the lens of Car Dependence. So, the potential modal shift was not radical: the majority
of participants were inclined to still depend on car by giving preference to modes like car-sharing, ride-sharing and ride-
hailing and/or using their own car as well as using MaaS. All in all, at this point in time MaaS is viewed as a complement
to personal car rather than a substitute for it, which is in line with Storme et al. (2020). Much like Fioreze et al. (2019)
and Ho et al. (2020) suggested, our study revealed that potential users remain dependant on cars due to perceiving MaaS
as unable to beat private car convenience. It has been long recognised, however, that car is more than just a convenient mode
of transport (Steg, 2005). The ﬁndings of our study suggest that cars to this day are viewed as the most enjoyable transport
mode; owning and using the car stimulates self-esteem, serves as a means of representing self and provides a sense of free-
dom, independence and joy on top of removing the complexities and uncertainties of relying on others and on a digital-based
system to travel. These are sensations that MaaS cannot replicate. Sustainability attitudes have been found to have an inﬂu-
ence on driving habits and modal choice (Bamberg & Schmidt, 2003; Gardner, 2009) and the decision to use multimodal tra-
vel applications (Dastjerdi, Kaplan, Silva, Nielsen, & Pereira, 2019a, 2019b). Similarly, our study suggests that people with
limited moral considerations or, in other words, people with the mindset that their unsustainable driving habits are ‘‘a drop
in the ocean” appear the least likely to travel with MaaS sustainably, if at all. Those who voiced concerns about the environ-
ment were more likely to look for ways to reduce their dependence on cars and see MaaS as a means for identifying more
sustainable travel options, at least for some of their trips, and as a way of contributing to maintaining sustainability.
The affection for privately owned cars and personal driving was not however the only reason study participants did not
show much enthusiasm about extensively relying on MaaS. There were a number of Trust issues underpinning incidents of
MaaS disapproval. According to Rogers (2005) Diffusion of Innovations Theory, an individual often expresses the need to trial
an innovation before its full adoption in order to give meaning to an innovation, to eliminate uncertainty and to ﬁnd out how
it functions in real terms. Similarly, our study participants demonstrated the desire of trialling MaaS to test its efﬁciency in
providing timely and reliable information, reasonable itineraries, and alternative routes in cases of disruption. MaaS could
only be as good as the transportation network behind it, thus participants demonstrated their concerns with the potential
MaaS capacity; when today at peak hours, the demand for public transport and shared use mobility can severely outweigh
the system’s capacity, what would happen on the much larger scale of a MaaS paradigm, when most users will abandon their
cars? The latter is closely related to the notion of crowding (Li & Hensher, 2013), associated with a high density of passengers
on vehicles, access ways and stations, which has a signiﬁcant inﬂuence on modal choice (Tirachini, Hensher, & Rose, 2013;
Vedel, Bredahl Jacobsen, & Skov-Petersen, 2017; Wardman & Whelan, 2011). When travelling with MaaS, users would have
to rely on technology and often worry whether the battery of their mobile device is sufﬁciently charged, whether they would
have appropriate mobile network coverage where they are travelling, or whether the device would be accepted as a means of
access to the many transport modes MaaS promises to integrate, an issue previously highlighted by Giesecke, Surakka, and
Hakonen (2016). This means that any MaaS system should also work ofﬂine and offer back-up access options if it is to be
embraced as also suggested by Polydoropoulou et al. (2018). Moreover, the mobile app form of MaaS could be a major barrier
to its uptake as not every potential MaaS user at present is at the desired level of digital readiness (Polydoropoulou et al.,
2018), and older people speciﬁcally, as noted by Pangbourne, Mladenovic
´, Stead, and Milakis (2020), seem to be left out.
While individual data privacy and protection, and safety around monetary transactions within MaaS have been considered
in recent research (Cottrill, 2020), little attention has been paid to the possible cybersecurity vulnerabilities of MaaS and
their mitigation, although cybersecurity and resilience planning have been signposted as areas of priority for years now
for the broader context of public transport (Beecroft & Pangbourne, 2015a). The frequency of fraud and cyberattacks, often
severe, in contemporary times caused our participants to fear relying on not just MaaS but any digital system. In the MaaS
era cyber-attacks may impose a great amount of risk as they could spread over, and endanger, an entire MaaS coverage area
in a very short time.
Reliability, safety on board, and privacy, associated with vehicle occupancy, are the known attributes inﬂuencing user
perceptions of and satisfaction with transport service quality (Beirão & Sarsﬁeld Cabral, 2007; Garvill, Marell, & Nordlund,
2003; Prioni & Hensher, 2000; Spears, Houston, & Boarnet, 2013) and affecting travel behaviour and modal choice (De
Vos & Witlox, 2017). In our study, similar attributes developed for the context of MaaS and, as they appeared to be largely
of human nature, were deﬁned as the Human Element Externalities. Social environments, perceived by some participants
as psychologically and physically hazardous, negatively affected the potential acceptance and uptake of MaaS. Study partic-
ipants reﬂected on their previous experiences and, realising the service in MaaS was still dependant on the responsibility of
its providers, were troubled by the possibility of transport provider staff deceiving them, getting them to their destination
with little consideration for their health and safety, and simply not providing the service at the required time, thus demon-
strating negligence in relation to users. The discourtesy of fellow travellers was yet another worry: inappropriateness of
some conversations, profanity of the language, and the inability of other transport users to keep noise to a minimum was
what made the experiences of sharing transport even with MaaS a non-ideal scenario for some people. Another barrier iden-
tiﬁed was the possible disobedience of safety rules, the misuse of dedicated transportation infrastructure for irrelevant pur-
poses, and the abuse on shared means of transport. Thus, some participants anticipated danger and expected harm when
sharing with others, and, ultimately, generated negative perceptions of travelling with MaaS. The above is in line with
Gardner and Abraham (2007), who argued that the provision of personal space and security pose real challenges to car
reduction schemes, and Beecroft and Pangbourne (2015b) who concluded that personal security considerations tacitly inﬂu-
376 E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381
ence passenger choice. For the MaaS context this agenda is barely touched, with a few exceptions perhaps (e.g. Jittrapirom,
Marchau, van der Heijden, & Meurs, 2018).
While Fioreze et al. (2019) uncovered that the low potential uptake of MaaS was the result of survey participants not
recognising the added value of the service, our study offers an insight on what users consider things of Value when travelling
with MaaS. Although digital illiteracy of some potential users could complicate the realisation of MaaS as a web- or app-
based product, the appiﬁcation was still regarded as a valuable feature as it was something the majority of participants
already had experience with, which goes along with the ﬁndings of Schikofsky et al. (2020). The travel choice making qual-
ities and integration capacity of MaaS were also highlighted by some of our participants, which is in line with the results of
Polydoropoulou et al. (2018). With MaaS, individuals will not have to deal with a variety of apps and webpages but do every-
thing from a single app. Furthermore, the all-in-one service could help breaking existing travel habits by offering the user
more sustainable travel modes. MaaS was found to be a valuable tool for organising short- and long-distance trips with the
purpose of leisure and tourism, conﬁrming the hypothesis of Ho et al. (2020) that tourists may represent the largest market
group for MaaS and be its ﬁrst adopters. Our study suggests that a MaaS feature for creating accounts and giving feedback
about drivers delivering the service and fellow travellers, could make sharing, at least car-based (Casprini, Di Minin, &
Paraboschi, 2019), more transparent and easier to get used to. The sensation of knowing that everyone is registered and
can be easily identiﬁed in case a situation occurs might make sharing public and shared means of transport more pleasant
and trustworthy. Our study participants also recognised that MaaS, having access to individual trip and user data, could use
analytics to help eliminating trafﬁc bottlenecks. This supports the ﬁndings of Milne and Watling (2019). Yet, the transporta-
tion network itself, as it is as present, is far from being able to seamlessly serve user needs and offers no resilience when
dealing with disruption. Signiﬁcant improvements in the level of service provision, however, are of paramount value to users
and tend to induce a positive change in travel behaviour (Redman, Friman, Gärling, & Hartig, 2013).
Our participants considerations about MaaS’ Cost made it clear that travel by alternatives is still considered inferior to car
use. Although valuing some of the features MaaS may potentially offer, only a few, as also recognised by Ho et al. (2020),
wished to pay extra for the MaaS service. Many demonstrated a ‘‘Why to pay? Can do myself”’ attitude and took a stance
where they would rather plan the trips themselves than pay MaaS for creating an integrated offer as there were already free
of charge apps and services in place that they could easily use instead. Some participants were ready to accept a slight
increase in travel time provided the cost of travel with MaaS was lower than what they paid previously, in a way bench-
marking against status quo. Others wished to be incentivised to use MaaS by getting, through the MaaS platform, motives
such as bonus points and discounts for every trip. The latter reward instruments could be successful in promoting sustain-
able multimodal options (Dastjerdi et al., 2019b; Tsirimpa, Polydoropoulou, Pagoni, & Tsouros, 2019) and thereby facilitating
a positive change in individual travel behaviour (Poslad, Ma, Wang, & Mei, 2015). Some car users mentioned, rather reluc-
tantly, that the only way out of driving for them would be the policy makers putting in place environmental laws and exces-
sive charges for personal car use and ownership. Indeed, road pricing schemes, although often challenged by public
resistance, grant more signiﬁcant reduction in emissions as opposed to, for example, shared use mobility schemes
(Cavallaro, Giaretta, & Nocera, 2018), which could be a consequence of reduced car use. Car users were more open to ‘‘pull”
measures such as being offered tax reliefs for switching from their car to more sustainable alternatives. Such policy, also
referred to as tax break or tax exemption, has been successfully utilised to promote the use of electric and more fuel-
efﬁcient cars (Bjerkan, Nørbech, & Nordtømme, 2016; Orlov & Kallbekken, 2019) and appears to also have potential to reduce
overall car use (Gardner & Abraham, 2007).
6. Limitations and future work
The present work responds to a signiﬁcant literature gap and helps addressing the lack of qualitative research studies in
the topic of MaaS and travel behaviour. We need to acknowledge that the qualitative nature of our study might not have the
same potential to offer generalisable results for broader contexts, than the UK cases we studied herein, when compared with
quantitative studies that perform statistical analysis in big datasets. We also recognise that although Birmingham is the
home of the ﬁrst English MaaS pilot and London is a city with one of Europe’s biggest and most versatile and integrated pub-
lic transport networks our study was not about capturing real-life experience from MaaS use since very few of our intervie-
wees had ever heard before about MaaS; however capturing attitudes and intentional travel behaviour is of crucial
importance too. Studies experimenting with actual MaaS-related travel behaviour although advantageous are very rare
because MaaS is in an embryonic stage of its development; furthermore, the systems tested might not even be full scale
MaaS systems but MaaS-lite. The next phase of our research will be based on an online quantitative survey and the statistical
analysis of its results. This follow-up study will aim to triangulate, complement and extend our present ﬁndings.
7. Conclusions and recommendations
MaaS as a whole seems to be portrayed as an attractive mechanism, yet it does not guarantee the desired behavioural
change, to the extent, where transport-caused sustainability challenges could be overcome. Car remains the convenient
but also enjoyable option for transport users, who at present also have little consideration for sustainability and, if not
forced, are bound to stick to their existing driving habits. Acceptance and intended usage of public transport services, even
E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381 377
enhanced by shared use mobility modes, is falling well behind the private automobile, meaning that a major reform of these
services and their overall design should happen coupled with travel demand measures designed to push people out of their
cars. Therefore, all MaaS can offer to the potential user at present is the comfort and ease of ‘‘appiﬁed” access which may
reduce the cognitive load for preparing and undertaking a journey, in line with Lyons et al. (2020). The ease of access, though,
is not something transport users are willing to pay for as it only allows them to easily access services that do not work up to
the required standards and, consequently, do not meet their needs.
Moreover, transport users do not trust that MaaS could make the access truly easy and see many issues that could hinder
the provision of transport services via a digital interface. It is also due to the contemporary social environment that the MaaS
paradigm may not develop sustainably: both transport staff and users, according to some of our participants, show little
respect to rules, transport infrastructure, and even each other, which could make the use of shared transport means inefﬁ-
cient, unpleasant and at times dangerous. It appears that the society, although perceiving MaaS positively, is not yet ready to
change their existing travel practices (Ho et al., 2020; Karlsson et al., 2020). Hence, policy makers and transport providers
need to think very carefully of what they offer through a MaaS platform.
The value of MaaS is not in beating the convenience of the private car, which is rather unrealistic, but in creating a mul-
timodal travel option that offers the opportunity to people to be part of an initiative designed to create more liveable, socially
inclusive and sustainable futures. Thus, transport users should be incentivised to travel responsibly with MaaS through
bonuses and tax reliefs, and be persuaded to think ‘big’ and ‘out of the box’, possibly via dedicated awareness, information
provision and social engagement exercises designed to make the concept more familiar to them and highlight its importance
in sustainability terms if used responsibly. Transport providers and policy-makers need to test out and work on improving
MaaS through the use of pilots, trials and living labs; this will give a window of opportunity to users to familiarise with
change and abort negative (usually unsustained) perceptions about risks that a real-life scheme application would make
apparent that they should not exist. Their next and more important step however should be to make public transport the
backbone of any MaaS system by putting major efforts into encouraging integrated, demand-responsive, timely and inexpen-
sive public transit networks where many modes, enhanced with well-timed, reliable and honest information provision, work
together to satisfy the very diverse user needs. Car- and ride-sharing should be less accessible in contrast (via monetary dis-
incentives within the MaaS pricing framework or car-free and parking-free zones) and perhaps provided primarily for emer-
gencies and as neighbourhood feeders to mass-transit systems. But this marginalisation of car solutions embedded in this
sustainability-enhancing approach might go against the usual MaaS rhetoric of ‘‘individual unfettered freedom” (as covered
by Pangbourne et al., 2020). So, the society of the future, and the research community, should be facing a dilemma: ‘‘do we
want a genuinely sustainable MaaS?” or ‘‘one that is more easily accepted but might be uberised?”
CRediT authorship contribution statement
Elena Alyavina: Conceptualization, Methodology, Data curation, Formal analysis, Writing - original draft, Writing -
review & editing. Alexandros Nikitas: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Writing - original draft, Writing -
review & editing. Eric Tchouamou Njoya: Formal analysis, Writing - review & editing.
Appendix A. Interview guide
(1) What is your date of birth?
(2) What is your marital status? Are you single/in domestic partnership/married/divorced/etc.? How many children are in
(3) What is the highest degree or level of school you have completed? If currently enrolled, highest degree received. What
is your current status of employment (employed/self-employed/unemployed/student/ retired/etc.)? What is your job
(4) What is your personal/household income?
(5) Do you have a driving license?
(6) Do you have your personal car (household car)?
TRAVEL BY PERSONAL CAR
(7) How often do you use your own car (either as a driver or as a passenger?)
(8) Every time you make a decision to travel by car, do you compare it to other available options?
(9) What is usually the purpose of the trips that you use your own car for?
(10) Would it be difﬁcult for you not to use your car for those trips?
(11) What beneﬁts of travelling by car do you consider when making your travel decisions?
(12) Are there any drawbacks of the use of your own car which you consider when making your travel decisions?
378 E. Alyavina et al. / Transportation Research Part F 73 (2020) 362–381
(13) Many people think that cars and their excessive use generate problems for society, the environment and even the
economy. What do you think about that?
(14) Do you feel responsible for the above? What actions are you taking to change that?
TRAVEL BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT
(15) How often do you use public transport as a travel mode?
(16) What is the purpose of the trips you use public transport for?
(17) What do you consider beneﬁcial about travelling by public transport when making your travel decisions?
(18) Are there any public transport drawbacks you consider when making your travel decisions?
TRAVEL BY OTHER MODES
(19) How often do you use Taxi or Uber as a travel mode? Why do/don’t you use it?
(20) What is the purpose of the trips you use Taxi or Uber for?
(21) Do you usually use those transport modes as substitute for or in combination with other transport options?
(22) What are the beneﬁts of taxi travel, in your opinion? What are the drawbacks?
(23) How do you feel about the smartphone app experience that services like Uber offer? How easy/how difﬁcult do you
ﬁnd to use those?
(24) What is your opinion on the use of active transportation, such as walking and cycling?
(25) What do you think of sharing a ride with a friend/a stranger?
(26) What is your opinion on car-sharing schemes? Do you see any beneﬁts/drawbacks in using those?
TRAVEL BEHAVIOUR GENERAL
(27) What circumstances make it easy for you to travel the way you do at present?
(28) What circumstances make it difﬁcult for you to travel the way you do at present?
(29) Are there any particular individuals or groups of people who inﬂuence your decisions regarding transport and travel-
ling? In what way?
INTRODUCING THE CONCEPT OF MAAS
Infographic exercise: go through deﬁnitions of MaaS, highlight its features and their functions, and describe the experi-
ence it offers to its users in detail.
(30) Would you be willing to use MaaS for your everyday travel? Why? Why not?
(31) What are the opportunities of using MaaS for travel? What are the barriers to using MaaS, in your opinion?
(32) What do you think about the technological aspects of MaaS, to wit the provision of travel related services and infor-
mation through a single smartphone application? What are the beneﬁts to you? What are the barriers?
(33) To what extent your decision to use MaaS would depend on the cost of the service?
(34) Could MaaS change the way you travel right now?
(35) If people most important to you were in favour of using MaaS, would you be in favour of using MaaS yourself? What
about the inﬂuences of general public?
(36) Having MaaS, would you be willing to give up your personal car? Why do you feel so?
(37) Is there anything transport providers and policy makers could add to MaaS that would help you switch from your car
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