This system would allow people to plan transport and purchase rides directly via their smartphones – combining the benefits of ride-sharing (Uber etc.) with the cost-efficiency of public transport. The idea is to provide a wide and flexible variety of riding options available to the general public at a rate so attractive that people are driven away from private ownership of cars. The network will major in expediency and simplicity, with the consequence that people would naturally prefer the new mobility system rather than owning a car.
Of course, the planning and implementation of this mobility network is easier in a city like Helsinki, as almost every citizen owns a smartphone and the relatively homogenous social structure means that most can afford the fares for the rides (which are slightly higher than an average bus ride but cheaper than a taxi ride). The relative wealth and high technology adoption rates have made it easier for the government to design a public transport system that can be used by everyone in the city. However, the question still arises: will this same system work for any other city (think of Mumbai, Mexico City, or Bucharest), keeping in mind the purchasing power of every citizen in the country as well as necessary smartphone penetration rates?
Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor of London for Transport, noted in an interview for this book: “Key goals for any urban transport network are to make it as accessible, safe, reliable and efficient as possible. In London there are twenty-seven million trips a day, often on networks that are reaching capacity – for example, the Tube will start to approach running forty trains per hour in the coming decade. We see advances in technology as a way for us to continue to deliver increases to efficiency and reliability, both within a mode and through multi-modal integration. These changes will happen in part naturally due to the evolution of social media and related tools; the interesting question for cities is what role they will be best suited to play in facilitating this process.”