This October, the Finnish company MaaS Global launched Whim, an app that serves as a portal to a wide array of transportation services. Helsinki residents who sign up for Whim pay a flat fee for unlimited access to transit and get points that can be spent on taxi rides or car rentals.
It’s all part of the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications’ effort to adopt a “mobility as service” model. The concept goes a lot deeper than a trip planner or fare payment mechanism on your smartphone. At its core, “mobility as service” is about minimizing car ownership.
Instead of people paying large sums and taking on debt to own a depreciating asset, which they can then drive around cheaply, “mobility as service” connects people to the best option for any given trip. The key is to make this service as seamless, convenient, and economical as possible.
At a TransitCenter panel last night, Finnish officials discussed how they re-wrote the nation’s transportation regulations to optimize the mobility-as-service model.
Before Whim could launch, said the transport and communications ministry’s Krista Huhtala-Jenks and MaaS Global CEO Sampo Hietanan, Finland had to streamline rules that got in the way. Regulations that, for example, treated traditional taxis differently than companies like Uber and Lyft were an obstacle.
This process of “de- and re-regulation,” as Huhtala-Jenks called it, aims to make the mobility-as-service market as attractive as possible for both the transportation providers and the people buying these services. It’s not about creating rules on a case-by-case basis.
“We’re not in the business of putting out fires,” she said. “So we’re not taking separate cases like almost [everyone else] in the world that, ‘Oh, we have this case of Uber, let’s regulate it.’ We don’t want to start spot-regulating. That world is gone already.”