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article imageNew integrated transport app tested

By Tim Sandle     Nov 1, 2017 in Business
A new integrated transport app, from Finland, is being tested out in the U.K. The aim is to enable commuters to combine all their travel needs through their smartphone. The trial is taking place in the West Midlands and it has a strong rail focus.
The new app is called 'Whim' (described as an all-inclusive multimodal transport app) and it was developed in Finland (where the app won the top award in the Best Mobile Service in Finland contest). The app was the result of six years of development, together with and talks between industry, cities and government.
This article follows on from an overview of the benefits of integrated transport, titled “Modern economies need an integrated transport structure.”
The new Whim transport app was tested out in Helsinki in autumn 2016, and it is now being tested out in a second country: the U.K., ahead of an expected European roll-out. The app remains in Beta release.
The main aim is to encourage people to use transport other than their private car. To make this easier the app allows people to make payments for their journeys, be they by bus, taxi, train or tram, over the course of a month. This is on an ‘as-you-need-it’ basis.
To aid would-be commuters, the ‘smart’ app helps the user to establish the best journey routes and deal with tickets and payments, the regional newspaper Express and Star reports. This should make journeys using different modes of transport relatively seamless. As the app syncs with the user’s calendar, it allows people to plan their route in advance and buy their tickets. Moreover, the app will plan the ideal route from the user’s starting point, combining public transport, on-demand services and private hire vehicles.
In terms of how the app works by pulling together travel information from APIs (application programming interfaces) set up by transport providers and public agencies. It also draws upon other routing services to direct users by utilizing pre-existing mobile networks.
Shopping using a smart phone
Shopping using a smart phone
To access the app, commuters must apply via the Whim website. Longer-term, however, MaaS Global intends to make the service freely available through the Apple App Store and Google Play. This should be in place before the end of 2017.
In related integrated transport rail news in a different part of the world, Australia’s rail service has been identified as needing a substantial overhaul. A new report from design and consultancy firm Arcadis has ranked Sydney’s transport network one 51st globally, citing the city’s urban sprawl as a key reason why it features low down on the list. Hong Kong took first place in Arcadis' 2017 Sustainable Cities Mobility Index report, followed by Zurich, Paris and Seoul.
Commenting on the problems facing Sydney, Arcades Sydney City Executive Stephen Taylor described the city’s transport system as “a work in progress.” In terms of solutions, the transport czar puts forward: “There are many great initiatives underway that will help improve Sydney’s ranking, such as the light rail and metro.”
For more on the use of new technology to create more efficient transportation systems, see the companion article “Siemens, data analytics and train efficiency.”
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