Here’s a new idea for getting around cities. Neither a taxi nor a conventional bus service, the Kutsuplus is a sort of hybrid of the two that is now being tested in Helsinki.
To get on this funny transportation mode, a passenger registers online and pre-loads his fare payment. As little as a few minutes ahead, he can then select a departure address, destination, and time. Then, he walks to a pickup point designated by Katsuplus, shows a confirmation number and joins his fellow passengers. The mini-bus, which seats nine people, takes people near where they ask to go. Once at the drop-off point, Katsuplus provides a map showing passengers how to walk to their final destination.
As you would expect from a country that practically invented the cellphone, the technology behind Katsuplus is pretty sophisticated. It’s able to route-plan on the fly as requests come in and clusters passengers going in similar directions. Currently, there are 10 buses operating from 7:30 a.m.to 6:30 p.m., and up to 35 are planned. The price is between a taxi and a bus fare: a 3.50 Euro flat fee, plus 45 cents per kilometer. That works out to about $5 for a 2-mile journey.
Presumably, it’s easier to orchestrate a transportation mode like Katsuplus in a place like Helsinki, (population 603,968), than in a major metropolis. But it’s certainly an idea worth watching. In a sense, it’s bit like the social taxi idea we’ve covered here–but more to the bus side of things. Technology seems to make socializing public transit easier. It’s just a case of whether people will actually go for it.