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Public transit goes on-demand in Helsinki

Posting in Transportation

Sure, there are many cities around the world where you can hail a taxi or hitch a ride in a private car using a smartphone with apps like Uber and Lyft.

But Helsinki is taking that idea to the next level with on-demand public transit.

The capital city of Finland has an on-demand minibus service run by the city's transit agency. Kutsuplus, as the service is called, lets you choose where you want to be picked up by the bus and if you want a private trip (like using Uber) or a shared ride. If you decide to share a ride, an algorithm will determine the best route for getting you to your destination and picking up others, but you're only charged as if you're the only passenger. The minibuses can accommodate up to nine passengers.

The cost of the service is 3.50 euros, plus 0.60 euros per kilometer. That's more than a bus but less than a taxi, but as Wired points out, the point of it isn't to replace either form of transit.

Despite its on-demand nature, Kutsuplus isn’t designed to put cabs out of business. Rather, it’s supposed to make it easier for motorists to switch to public transit. According to Kari Rissanen, a Program Director at the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority, Kutsuplus makes transit more attractive for those whose commutes would require multiple changes of buses or trains.

Kutsuplus is currently running as a pilot program with 10 minibuses. According to Wired, the could soon grow to 100.

Read more: Wired, Kutsuplus

Image: Kutsuplus

— By on October 17, 2013, 6:39 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure