Implications for governance

From the perspective of new transport services, the Swiss approach to organising public transport is a double-edged sword. It is quite easy to do different short-term demonstrations as most of the 26 cantons have resources and willingness to try various new services. The downside is that any countrywide solution requires much resources, especially for small start-ups, when they need to analyse all the different rules and negotiate contracts with each of the cantons. Changes in the legislation in one single canton can also endanger the countrywide service promise. However, the single most significant challenge for new transport service providers to establish themselves in Switzerland is the subsidised and an already existing high-quality public transport. Cooperation with different stakeholders is challenging, as the federal and local natural monopolies have the opportunity to restrict the use of their resources, e.g., infrastructure, timetables, booking systems, and IT. As a result, a pragmatic way to establish a new transport service in Switzerland is to a) sell the concept to some of the large cities (for city-related services) or b) to cooperate with either the Swiss Federal Railways or PostBus, and hope that these companies incorporate the service as a part of their countrywide service portfolio.

On the other hand, Finland has chosen to deregulate the industry and utilise the emerging new businesses and business models fully to make transport provision more efficient with increased flexibility and competition. Finnish ministries and regional authorities are making valiant efforts in providing equal opportunities for all the actors and ensuring compatibility of the mobility offers. However, the fast-paced development in Finland has resulted in a very fragmented situation with many of the companies doing overlapping work when trying to serve the mobility needs of the few genuinely urban areas in Finland. With so many different public authorities tendering or organising local public transport, the result has been that transport operators and companies in Finland mainly have incompatible IT systems in use. Currently, the Finnish Transport Agency has opened all the data it produces, and the new transport code includes measures for supporting the use of open data and IT system interoperability. These steps include making the IT system interoperability through application programming interfaces an important selection criterion in public procurements. However, before all these legislative changes are in effect, organising public transport especially in rural areas remains to be a challenge with continuously diminishing population and passenger numbers, and challenges in combining the legally mandatory transport services into one offering more sustainably.

The regional collaboration platforms, such as the Growth Corridor Finland network, are aiming at enhancing the vitality of the whole region – not just the urban areas. For example, Growth Corridor Finland is actively supporting the electrification of the transport system, emphasising the connections of rural areas to efficient (and sustainable) transport corridors in spatial planning and creating possibilities for innovative mobility solutions to provide cost-efficient mobility solutions for people, goods, and services throughout the region. For these tasks, a Growth Agreement between the Finnish Government and Growth Corridor Finland was signed. This agreement resulted in, for example, extra funding for innovative experiments for the period of 2016-2018. The effects of this Finnish approach remains to be seen on the national level, but interestingly there are already first signs of global scaling of the MaaS business models developed in Finland (e.g. MaaS Global).

The engagement of citizens and stakeholders is one of the critical elements in any regional strategy work. This fundamental duty of local authorities should be enhanced by identifying all the relevant stakeholders and start appropriate, target-group specific processes to engage them. The importance of this process and the introduction of border-spanning, e.g., crossing regional, administrative, cultural, and country borders, innovation platforms is emphasised when dealing with institutional and systemic innovations such as MaaS.

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