Finland’s capital, Helsinki, aims to make it unnecessary for any city resident to own a private car by 2025. Since 2016, Helsinki residents have been able to use an app called Whim to plan and pay for all modes of public and private transportation within the city—be it by train, taxi, bus, carshare, or bikeshare. Anyone with the app can enter a destination, select his or her preferred mode of getting there—or, in cases where no single mode covers the door-to-door journey, a combination thereof—and go. Users can either pre-pay for the service as part of a monthly mobility subscription, or pay as they go using a payment account linked to the service. The goal is to make it so convenient for users to get around that they opt to give up their personal vehicles for city commuting, not because they’re forced to, but because the alternative is more appealing.
Helsinki’s vision represents the next revolution in mobility: mobility as a service (MaaS). At its core, MaaS relies on a digital platform that integrates end-to-end trip planning, booking, electronic ticketing, and payment services across all modes of transportation, public or private. It’s a marked departure from where most cities are today, and how mobility has been delivered until now.