How Helsinki Arrived at the Future of Urban Travel First

Kati Pohjanpalo:

The aim is to eventually make personal cars obsolete by offering people a superior experience. “Your mobile operator can get you all your calls and all the mobile data you need,” said Sampo Hietanen, chief executive officer of MaaS Global Oy, the company behind Whim. “We’re trying to solve the big question in transportation: What do we need to offer to compete with car ownership?”
The cost of cars accounts for as much as 85 percent of personal transportation spending, according to Hietanen, even though the average car is used only 4 percent of the time. That implies a great potential for more efficient allocation: fewer cars shared by a larger group of part-time users. If apps such as Whim can add enough users, optimized trips and increased ride sharing could cut down on single-occupant vehicles and help reduce carbon emissions.

Helsinki seems to have it right: it's not using a dozen -- or even a half dozen -- apps and services to get around. It's tying all the various modes of movement together into a unified experience. Will the U.S. ever get there? I highly doubt it.


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