Adam Greenfield, a senior urban fellow at LSE Cities, recently wrote an article for theguardian.com, about "Helsinki's ambitious plan to make car ownership pointless in 10 years." In the article, Mr. Greenfield discusses that "the Finnish capital has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point "mobility on demand" system by 2025 – one that, in theory, would be so good nobody would have any reason to own a car." The roads through and around the region have become overrun with single-occupancy vehicles in recent years. While this plan would be extremely challenging to implement, a radical reformation of the capital city's urban mobility needs to, at the very least, be discussed.
Read the opening excerpt from Adam Greenfield’s article:
Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time, straight from their smartphones. The hope is to furnish riders with an array of options so cheap, flexible and well-coordinated that it becomes competitive with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use.
Subscribers would specify an origin and a destination, and perhaps a few preferences. The app would then function as both journey planner and universal payment platform, knitting everything from driverless cars and nimble little buses to shared bikes and ferries into a single, supple mesh of mobility. Imagine the popular transit planner Citymapper fused to a cycle hire service and a taxi app such as Hailo or Uber, with only one payment required, and the whole thing run as a public utility, and you begin to understand the scale of ambition here.
That the city is serious about making good on these intentions is bolstered by the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority's rollout last year of a strikingly innovative minibus service called Kutsuplus. Kutsuplus lets riders specify their own desired pick-up points and destinations via smartphone; these requests are aggregated, and the app calculates an optimal route that most closely satisfies all of them.
Finland's capital hopes a 'mobility on demand' system that integrates all forms of shared and public transport in a single payment network could essentially render private cars obsolete.