MaaS concept progreses as Helsinki public transportation joins Whim mobility app


The concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) has taken a major step forward with the announcement that the Helsinki Regional Transport (HRT) board has approved terms for offering its public transport services as part of Finland’s rapidly-expanding MaaS network.

The newly established contract with pioneering company MaaS Global makes HRT the world’s first capital city regional transport provider to offer MaaS services to its customers. MaaS Global’s Whim all-inclusive multimodal mobility smartphone application now includes HRT’s public transport services, as well as taxis and rental cars for a fixed monthly price of €249 (US$265). Whim, which was released in October in the Helsinki region, is initially available for a limited group of test users, as new features will be added throughout the rest of this year. A pay-as-you-go (PAYG) alternative will also be introduced toward the end of 2016, giving Helsinki citizens the opportunity to test the service without commitment.

Based on the Finnish-developed MaaS concept, the Whim app gives people instant access to virtually every kind of transport, from brand new cars to taxis, buses, trains and bike share. Designed to fulfill all people’s mobility needs in one place, the app takes care of everything, from finding the best way to get to a destination, to ticketing and payments. The Whim app syncs with the users’ calendar, helping them plan journeys in advance, and can also be used to find the best places to go to, ‘on a whim’, at the press of a button.

MaaS Global and Whim have been the subject of growing international attention since the app’s launch in June, and the system has received Smart City awards in both Finland and Sweden in the following months. MaaS Global says the next step is fast global expansion, with two more cities to be added this year, and many more lined up to join the system in 2017.

The CEO and founder of MaaS Global, Sampo Hietanen (above), is known internationally as the father of the entire MaaS concept, centered on the core idea that one convenient service fulfills all of a person’s daily mobility needs. “We want to realize people’s dreams of true freedom of mobility,” explained Hietanen. “HRT’s bold and open-minded move confirms Helsinki and Finland’s position as a pioneer in mobility services. HRT is a fine example to international transport providers. Our shared goal is to offer a viable alternative to today’s car owners, which enables them to combine public transport and a car as needed.”

HRT’s executive director, Suvi Rihtniemi, commented, “HRT and MaaS Global have signed HRT’s first pilot contract with a private company to provide door to door mobility services together. It will be fascinating to see what kind of customers these new mobility packages will attract. Hopefully that will include people who haven’t found public transport alone tempting enough to leave their cars at home. Based on this experience, we may expand our collaboration to other mobility service providers, too.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).