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Peter Ladner is impressed. From The Guardian:

Helsinki’s ambitious plan to make car ownership pointless in 10 years

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.

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. …

All of this seems cannily calculated to serve the mobility needs of a generation that is comprehensively networked, acutely aware of motoring’s ecological footprint, and – if opinion surveys are to be trusted – not particularly interested in the joys of private car ownership to begin with. Kutsuplus comes very close to delivering the best of both worlds: the convenient point-to-point freedom that a car affords, yet without the onerous environmental and financial costs of ownership (or even a Zipcar membership). …

Providers of public transit, though, have an inherent obligation to serve the entire citizenry, not merely the segment who can afford a smartphone and are comfortable with its use. (In fairness, in Finland this really does mean just about everyone, but the point stands.)

It matters, then, whether Helsinki – and the graduate engineering student the municipality has apparently commissioned to help it design its platform – is proposing a truly collective next-generation transit system for the entire public, or just a high-spec service for the highest-margin customers.

I’m not sure what surprises me the most: that Helsinki is taking on a project of this complexity, or that it’s being done by a graduate engineering student.

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Also, this from Fast Company:

In 2050, You Might Want To Be Living In Helsinki

Over the next few decades, Helsinki expects to add around 250,000 new residents. But the more the population grows, the fewer cars will be on city streets as Helsinki transforms itself into a network of dense, walkable neighborhoods that are virtually car-free. …

Helsinki

Helsinki envisions its busy expressways becoming boulevards lined with new housing, sidewalk cafes, bike lanes, and trams and buses. Residents will run everyday errands on foot or by bike; the city hopes that homes, businesses, schools, and stores will all be close enough together that many people might not even have to commute anymore.

But an expanded network of tram and metro stations will connect the entire city. New services, like a “mobility on demand” app that the city is already beginning to test, will make it simple to call up a bus, taxi, or shared car or bike, exactly when someone needs it.

Full story here.