There was a time, a bit more than a century ago, when having a car of your very own put you ahead of the curve technologically and earned you the envy of your peers. Soon enough, it may be just the opposite: The future-forward will be measured by your ability to live without needing a car.
Finland’s capital city, Helsinki, has set a goal of having zero individually owned cars by 2025, according to a thesis project written by transportation engineer Sonja Heikkilä and commissioned by the Helsinki City Planning Department.
According to the plan, Helsinki would have a city-wide mobile application that would guide users from their starting point to the final destination through bikes, trains and ride-sharing, depending on location and weather. The concept is dubbed “mobility as a service” or MaaS.
Here’s a day in the transportation life of a future Helsinki resident, if Heikkilä’s plan were to be instituted: “Piritta boards a tram, alights from it a couple of stops later and hires a bicycle to travel to work. After work, she orders a car of demand responsive transport and travels to the sport hall, where her training equipment already waits for her. Finally after practice, she shares a ride in a shared car and travels home. Piritta uses all services through her personal mobility operator and the use of services is charged directly from her account.”
Payment by Helsinki residents would either be through a single public services card, a monthly bill or the via smartphone.
Part of the communal transportation system would rely on the use of rentable lockers, located throughout the city, for residents to store their belongings, according to the white paper. The lockers could either be rented by the month or for a single period.
Part of what will make Piritta’s day possible is an updated infrastructure. But the other reason Pritta’s day may be possible is because social expectations are changing rapidly right now. “Baby boomers and the generation X pursued freedom through driving cars, but Millennials find freedom through the Internet and other information and communication devices,” writes Heikkilä.