The world’s first ever all-inclusive mobility service has been unveiled at the FMS (Forum for Mobility and Society) debate on mobility as a service (MaaS) in Brussels, Belgium. Hosted by MEP Christel Schaldemose, the event focused on the MaaS concept, which promises to change future urban travel options, and has been described as being the 21st century equivalent of the Model T Ford.
MaaS is a service distribution model in which people’s transport needs are met via one interface or app, grouping multiple transport solutions that can be used at any time. Based on the Finnish MaaS concept, the new Whim system is an app that 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. Whim offers both monthly mobility packages and travel on a pay-as-you-go basis. The app syncs with the users’ calendar, helping 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.
Currently in pilot testing, the Whim app will be launched for Finland’s Helsinki region at the end of the summer, with the full nationwide service to follow. The Whim app has been produced by Finnish startup Maas Global, which is led by Sampo Hietanen, a former CEO of ITS Finland and the father of the MaaS concept. The company says the next step is fast global expansion, with two more cities added this year, and many more lined up. MaaS Global was founded in 2015 and serves as an operator between transport services providers, users and third parties; it combines all the existing transport services into a single mobile application on the ‘single-ticket principle’, and offers personalized transport plans tailored to customer needs.
“Whim will change the way we move forever,” said Hietanen at the product’s launch. “It’s the 21st century equivalent to the Model T, which gave people the freedom to go wherever and whenever they wanted. In today’s world, Whim will be better than your own car. It will encourage the use of public transport, which means cleaner cities with fewer traffic jams. There’s huge business potential for transport providers, too, as more convenient mobility will bring them more customers. Our aim is to join forces with as many providers as possible, because together we’ll be able to offer an amazing service.”
Closing the FMS debate, Schaldemose said, “Delivering better mobility to European citizens would result in clear societal and environmental benefits. I am pleased to encourage actors in all sectors to begin the work that will develop on-demand services in transportation.”
Finnish Minister for Transport Anne Berner said, “It’s make or break time. Either Europe can be the hotbed for mobility-as-a-service, or we wait for actors from elsewhere. I hope, and I believe, that we can make it, and we are proud to lead the way in Finland.”