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Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars 276

New submitter NBSCALIDBA writes: Eeva Haaramo reports on Helsinki's ambitious plan to transform city transportation. From on-demand buses to city bikes to Kutsuplus mini-transport vans, the Finnish capital is trying to change the whole concept of getting around in a city. "Under the plan, all these services will be accessed through a single online platform. People will be able to buy their transport in service packages that work like mobile phone tariffs: either as a complete monthly deal or pay as you go options based on individual usage. Any number of companies can use the platform to offer transport packages, and if users find their travel needs change, they'll be able to switch packages or moved to a rival with a better deal."
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Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars

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  • Not a single link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by visionsofmcskill ( 556169 ) <vision AT getmp DOT com> on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @02:15PM (#47713957) Homepage Journal

    No links, Really? in many years of reading his site daily i'm not sure i recall when a story was posted without a single f*cking link to the source material or supporting info.

    Perhaps this thing is entirely made up... i think ill start submitting stories now - or is this a Beta story?

    Come on guys!!

  • by digitrev ( 989335 ) <> on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @02:15PM (#47713963) Homepage
    Thrilling, but can we get literally any information from a source? I know, I know, no one reads the article, but still. This isn't an Ask Slashdot nor is it an interview, so some sort of article would be nice.
    • This was covered []. Apparently the submitter forgot his link.
    • so some sort of article would be nice.

      First you guys complain about broken links in the summaries, and now when there are no broken links in the summaries you're complaining too! Can't an editor catch a break around here?

  • Yeah links are missing, perhaps because the source is finnish only?

    • by Keruo ( 771880 )
      How is this blow against Uber?
      Uber is illegal in Finland as taxis here need a license to operate and they have service obligation.
      Uber would allow the drivers to bypass the service obligation by rating the user with note like "user is in wheelchair" and that would give the driver the option to skip the ride which would be discriminating towards the user ordering the service(although not necessarily directly obvious) and thus bypassing the service obligation.
      • It is a blow to Uber because there is no private car left they can use to provide their service with ;D (regardless of licenses ;D )

        It was meant as a joke anyway (* facepalm *)

  • Expect all sorts of (spurious) legal challenges from the motor industry ... they won't want their business badly dented.

    • I think they will see ripe opportunities make much more money than they do.
    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      Well, if my Ph.D in Wikipedia is any good, there's only one modern manufacturer of consumer-oriented automotive products left in Finland, and they're basically an engineering firm that other car makers go to when they want something special developed and/or manufactured, similar to how ASC modifies stock vehicles into convertibles and the like.

      Given that this one company sells to the luxury market principally, I don't think this change in Helsinki's transportation would affect them very much.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @02:24PM (#47714053)

    To me the plan sounds like you end up with every car you use giving you the reliability of a rental, with the "oops no cars are available now" factor of services like ZipCar...

    But perhaps in a more isolated culture where people do not abuse things they do not own, the cars will be treated well and availability will work out well.

    • No it sounds more like an Uber App but instead of being locked into one transportation vendor they allow you to price compare and shop between multiple competing transportation solutions whether that's municipal bus, car2go, zip car and uber in one hub.

      "The city wants to build a framework for an open market where companies can operate and offer their services in different combinations. The City doesn't want to decree what services are offered, but help to facilitate the establishment of an ecosystem that enables private companies to produce a variety of them," Heikkilà says. "There would be several commercial [transport] operators offering these services, in the same way as in telecommunications today. The customers could choose the operator and the service package they want."

  • Taixs are leases? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @02:33PM (#47714109) Homepage
    I see two basic ways this ends up being implemented (not working). Also there might be some combination of these methods.

    1) You have people pick you up and take you places. This will work reasonably well for pre-planned activities - such as your commute, but be very crappy for spontaneous needs. Just like normal taxis.

    2) You don't "own" the car, but it can and will stay at your home/office with no one watching it for hours before/after you use it. Some other people may use it during the hours you don't - such as while you are at work or late at night. Effectively you are the renting from a place that delivers and picks up.

    Neither of these ideas seem workable to me. Both are not significantly different than existing one time use services, we are simply adding in a long term contract for the Taxis or car rental places (with delivery).

    People like owning cars for many good reasons.

    That said, once we have driverless cars, such a plan COULD actually work, in large part because suddenly your don't need to arrange for people to drop off your car/pick it up, it does it automatically.

    • >> people like cars

      Mostly because they don't smell like other people, or what they ate/drank last night. Figure out how to let me have my own personal compartment that I can maintain to my standard of hygiene and i'll happily give up driving.

      • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @03:08PM (#47714467) Homepage

        Mostly because they don't smell like other people, or what they ate/drank last night.

        You should avoid projecting your own, presumably American public transportation situation on to the rest of the world. Public transportation in Finland is not particularly smelly. Leaving Chicago, where the trains inevitably smell like urine, for Helsinki, I was amazed at how clean the buses, trams and metro are. Finns are big public drinkers, and on a Friday or Saturday night the public transportation is full of drunks, but everything remains remarkably orderly and tidy. That's pretty much true for the whole continent. In Romania, where I now live, things might be a bit run-down because we use second-hand vehicles bought from Western Europe, but they don't smell.

        If in the US public vehicles tend to quickly succumb to vandalism, bodily fluids and the smell of people who don't bathe, that's less a reason to disparage the concept of public transportation than to wonder WTF is wrong with US society.

  • Here's a link to the article [], since the editor didn't see fit to provide one.
  • Communists have been trying to kill private transport since the Communist Manifesto was published. People who can travel without permission are much more dangerous to the State than those who can be forced to walk at any time.

  • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @03:33PM (#47714683)

    Many years ago cities made sense. Factories to make steel, shoes, ketchup, shirts and other goods scaled well to gigantic sizes. Having the workers' living quarters hived up in close proximity to their employment was natural as there was no viable alternative. No one was yet doing more than dreaming of pervasive automation. Cities allowed stunningly great libraries and concert halls and baseball parks to be provided.

    Yo, things have changed. It is not necessary any longer to clump gigantic numbers of people into tiny areas in which it is impossible to efficiently support personal transportation. It is not technically and logistically necessary for us to live in a milieu in which it is necessary to call some agency to take us somewhere. The internet could be extended in non-commercialized ways to fully provide all the resources of libraries and a great deal more.

    I can see a place for a certain supply of centralized areas for those who cannot adjust to living any other way than like cattle. Feel free to phrase it differently. A richness of cultural and service facilities can be provided in built-up areas. But by and large the concept of the city, un-navigable by private conveyance, fighting for innovative ways to move people about efficiently.

    What if these built-up areas concentrated on what they are uniquely suited for? What if people traveled to them (and a few lived there) for the culture? Optimize them for that, and make them pay their way doing that.

    It needn't be whole-hog Asimov Spacers level sprawl, but living with elbow room and not with jammed-up crowds constantly getting in your way.

    Just a thought.

    • The Finnish state has already ensured excellent internet connectivity and cultural infrastructure (regional orchestras, good libraries) in rural areas, but it hasn't stopped the migration to the cities. The north of Finland is being depopulated so rapidly that the Finnish state has had to introduce subsidies to encourage people to stay put, but young people are drawn towards Helsinki and other cities in the south of the country. Drinking is a prominent part of Finnish culture, and when you've had a fair few

  • Finland has about 3 million passenger cars in use by a population of 5.46 million.

    Finland [], Vehicle stock grew in 2012 []

    Helsinki has some 390 cars per 1000 inhabitants. This is less than in cities of similar density, such as Brussels' 483 per 1000, Stockholm's 401, and Oslo's 413.

    Today, Helsinki is the only city in Finland to have trams and metro trains. There used to be two other cities in Finland with trams: Turku and Viipuri (Vyborg, now in Russia), but both have since abandoned trams. The Helsinki Metro, opened in 1982, is the only rapid transit system in Finland.

    Helsinki []

  • Right now society (jobs, business interactions, legal obligations, etc) are generally structured around the common denominator of automobile transit. Your boss expects you to get to work around the basic parameters of what you can do in a car.

    It's great to eliminate the car at some municipal level, now make "the bus didn't show up" or "there were no Uber/Zipcar/Car2Gos available" as some kind of universally accepted, legally unchangeable excuse for missing work, a court appearance, daycare pickup, etc.


    • Right now society (jobs, business interactions, legal obligations, etc) are generally structured around the common denominator of automobile transit. Your boss expects you to get to work around the basic parameters of what you can do in a car.

      American society, maybe. In the Helsinki metropolitan area, the topic of discussion, the usual way to getting to work is the train or metro. Even citydwellers who own a car don't typically use it, it stays in wait for rare outings to one's second house in the country.

  • I can commute farther in the state of California than the entire nation of Finland. Solutions that are workable and even desirable in certain locations are not logistically feasible in others.
    I was very impressed with the public transportation options in GB, but the distances there lend themselves to such.

    • I can commute farther in the state of California than the entire nation of Finland.

      The maximum distance in Finland from north to south is 1,157 km. While it might be possible to commute on a regular basis in California, I doubt that a meaningful proportion of Americans would consider that particularly desirable. While perhaps not embracing public transportation, they'd probably want to be based in a suburb nearer to the commuting destination in questions where they would drive.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.