Amid fast population growth and rising environmental concerns, Helsinki is looking at ways to integrate future transport services to reduce traffic, pollution, and public expenditure. Elly Park reports.
Helsinki commuters have a new option to get around their city. Kutsuplus is a van-sharing service that can be reserved via the internet or mobile phone. Nine-seat minibuses pick up passengers heading in the same direction, selecting travellers via a real-time automated routing system, says program director Kari Rissanen. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROGRAM DIRECTOR KARI RISSANEN, KUTSUPLUS HELSINKI REGION TRANSPORT, SAYING: "The idea is that you tell where you want to go, when you want to go. The people who have pretty similar travel needs they share the vehicle." The fees are paid online in advance and are around a third of the price of a taxi fare. Kutsuplus is the first stage of a major transport system overhaul planned for the Finnish capital. Deputy mayor Hannu Pentila says officials want to reduce the amount of private traffic and make the city greener. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY MAYOR OF HELSINKI CITY HANNU PENTILA SAYING: "Why do you need to own your own car? Are there different kinds of opportunities? Now the discussion about mobility as a service is within the City Hall." One idea is to integrate all transport services, including public transit, cabs and bicycle programs, into a single online platform, says traffic engineer Sonja Heikkila. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TRAFFIC ENGINEER SONJA HEIKKILA SAYING: "So this concept aims to integrate all mobility services, all transport services into one full comprehensive service which will then be provided to users by private companies and for example by applications on smart phones" Changing the entire transport system is a huge task. But Helsinki's political leaders believe they're definitely on the right road.