Universal MaaS: Toward the realization of traveling assistance services for wheelchair users "Arrangement for seamless assistance"


ANA is promoting Universal MaaS so that people with disabilities, the elderly, foreign visitors to Japan, and others who are afraid of getting around for some reasons can enjoy comfortable and stress-free travel.

What is Universal MaaS?

MaaS stands for "Mobility as a Service," which means that transportation by various means (trains, buses, taxies, etc.) as well as airplanes is considered as a one-service, and everything from route search to payment is connected seamlessly beyond the boundaries of transportation operators.
For example, let's say you are traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto. You have searched for a route to your destination and decided to take a flight to Osaka and a taxi from Osaka to Kyoto. You make reservations and payments for each transportation, such as trains, airplanes, buses, and taxies, that will take you from your home to your destination.
In addition, those who need assistance due to disabilities or other reasons also inform the respective transportation operators of their requests for assistance. Some foreign visitors to Japan have difficulty understanding Japanese and are stressed by the procedures for each transportation system.
Universal MaaS is an initiative aimed at smooth and comfortable travel, focusing on people with disabilities, the elderly, foreign visitors to Japan, and others who are afraid to travel for whatever reason.

Overview of Universal MaaS

This is a one-and-a-half minute, non-narration video that visualizes the future envisioned by "Universal MaaS."

This is an image video of a woman in a wheelchair traveling to Yokosuka Museum of Art using Universal MaaS in the near future 20xx.
Prior to departure, the user sets the destination at home using a smartphone, and this information is then shared via the Internet with various transportation operators.
Now, let's start with boarding the airplane.
The departure and arrival of her flight will be communicated to the next rail operator through Universal MaaS information sharing.
The train operator predicts the time of arrival at the gate based on the arrival time of her flight, and greets her arrival with a smile.
In the same way, she will transfer to a bus to get to her destination.
Be more like yourself, have more fun, and make the wish to travel come true. This is what we express in this image video.

Verification experiment of traveling assistance service for wheelchair users "Arrangement for seamless assistance"

Launched in 2018 as an idea of an ANA Group employee, the Universal MaaS initiatives are making steady progress with the help of numerous partners.
One of the initiatives is a traveling assistance service for wheelchair users "Arrangement for seamless assistance".
With the customers' consent, the necessary information for assistance registered at the time of reservation of ANA airline tickets will be linked to the system with the joint companies. This will reduce the burden on customers to make assistance requests to each transportation operators, while enabling operators to smoothly collect the assistance information needed by customers.
Also, the "Arrangement for seamless assistance" screen seen by the customer is linked in real time to the transportation operators' flight/traffic information, allowing the customers to know the occurrence of delays and early arrivals.

A wheelchair user operating "Arrangement for seamless assistance" with his cell phone.
The "Arrangement for seamless assistance" Experience

The traveling assistance service for wheelchair users "Arrangement for seamless assistance" was selected for the "Japanese Version MaaS Promotion and Support Project" by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in FY2021, and ANA conducted a verification experiment for social implementation from February 3, 2022 to February 28, 2022, in collaboration with East Japan Railway Company ("JR East"), TOKYO MONORAIL CO., LTD. ("Tokyo Monorail") and MK Co.,Ltd. ("MK Taxi").

Verification experiment

In the verification experiment, monitored customers will enter the necessary information for assistance when making airline ticket reservations through the ANA website, and travel routes using JR East, Tokyo Monorail, and MK Taxi will be set up to match the reserved flights. By sharing the necessary information for assistance with each transportation operators in advance, the participants experienced the ability to make arrangements all at once without having to contact each company. On the day of the trip, participants boarded public transportation along a set route. The transportation operators provide assistance to the monitored customers, knowing in advance the route, time, and assistance information for boarding.

Station staff who have confirmed wheelchair user assistance information in advance smoothly guide wheelchair user at transfer gates.
Smooth connections between trains
Checking in at the ANA Special Assistance Counter.
Arrived at the airport on time
Wheelchair user getting into universal taxi from the rear slope.
An arranged taxi stands by for flight arrival time
Wheelchair User taking a photo at the destination.
Arrived at destination!

Comments from participants in the verification experiment

"As a person with a disability, I have always felt the inconvenience of traveling by public transportation, and I was excited to see the attempts to solve this problem together with the operators."
"I felt that the public transportation service system would become a network to support travel, with assistance and support information being communicated in advance and linked to the necessary contacts."
In addition to the evaluation of the service, the following comments were also given.
"It is important that everyone has a choice, and I hope that a system will be built that allows people to enjoy services that meet their individual needs."

Interview with Universal MaaS representatives

We interviewed Mr. Osawa and Ms. Kuroiwa (Mobility As A Service Corporate Planning, ANA), who are in charge of Universal MaaS, about the path to the verification experiment and future prospects.

Mr. Osawa, Mobility As A Service Corporate Planning, ANA
Ms. Kuroiwa, Mobility As A Service Corporate Planning, ANA

What is the story behind the creation of the "Arrangement for seamless assistance"?

It was inspired by the original experience of the Universal MaaS initiator and the knowledge gained by each member learned through the activities of the Universal MaaS project. As we began to travel with friends and acquaintances with disabilities, we became aware of the hassle and difficulty of arranging assistance in advance. As a result of our continuous efforts to promote the concept of Universal MaaS, both publicly and privately, like-minded people have gathered together, and with the involvement of the companies and organizations to which each of us belongs, we have been able to build the partnerships and implement the systems that we have today.

What difficulties did you face in reaching the verification experiment?

Various wheelchair users and each transportation operator had different positions and situations, with their own recognition of the issues and priorities. The task of bringing them together was very difficult. We were able to arrive at this verification experiment through repeated dialogues among the involved parties, sharing the ideal image and concept, and striving for mutual understanding and exploration.

What is your vision for the future?

Universal MaaS is intended to be implemented in society step by step from FY2022 onward. The timing and scope of the implementation of this service have not yet been determined, and will be discussed based on the results of this verification experiment.

ANA will continue to work with customers to realize the ''world where no one gives up on travel'', across corporate, organizational, and industrial boundaries.

SDGs No.11 Sustainable cities and communities