Finland's biggest city is replacing cars with apps

The City Government in Helsinki announced an ambitious plan to create a route-planner app that provides information on all the shared-transportation options in the city. This service will include suggestions such as bike-sharing or sharing a taxi, and it will take into account the weather and other variable factors when offering recommendations.

Most people travelling around Helsinki already use public transport, but the city authorities want to eliminate private cars completely by 2025. In order to achieve this goal, they commissioned a study into feasibility of ‘mobility as a service’, and this smartphone app is the result of this. It is based on a thesis by a transportation engineer called Sonja Heikkilä.

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Although the plan itself is ambitious, it is going to be introduced slowly in stages. The first tests of the app are going to happen next year (2015) in the Vallila neighbourhood which is in the southwest of the city. If it proves successful, it will then be introduced to other parts of the city so that is available everywhere by 2025.

Travel-planning apps are nothing new, but the thing that makes this particular one is interesting is that it is designed to be so comprehensive.

The app will cover all forms of shared-transport, and there is expected to be options like monthly passes or the ability to pay for travel by the kilometre. The information provided will depend on the person’s exact location and the current situation on the roads of the city.

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The use of private cars is already in decline in Helsinki, so this may be the perfect time to introduce this type of scheme. It makes sense to use this technology to make public transport and shared transport easier to use. If it proves to be successful in Finland, the scheme is likely to be copied in other parts of the world as well.