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Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars 276

New submitter NBSCALIDBA writes: Eeva Haaramo reports on Helsinki's ambitious plan to transform city transportation. From on-demand buses to city bikes to Kutsuplus mini-transport vans, the Finnish capital is trying to change the whole concept of getting around in a city. "Under the plan, all these services will be accessed through a single online platform. People will be able to buy their transport in service packages that work like mobile phone tariffs: either as a complete monthly deal or pay as you go options based on individual usage. Any number of companies can use the platform to offer transport packages, and if users find their travel needs change, they'll be able to switch packages or moved to a rival with a better deal."
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Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars

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  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @02:27PM (#47714069)

    Sure, but not the cars, taxis, buses, etc.

    I'll never live anywhere that won't let me have a car or where for whatever reason cars are uneconomical. I just refuse to live like that. Some people like living in cities where only mass transit is practical. I really don't see why people pack themselves in that tightly. What is the point of doing that in the 21st century. In the pre-digital pre-airplane world I could see the point. But today? Why...

    It makes no sense. Spread out, people. Its a big world. Doesn't anyone want to listen to music without having to worry about whether the neighbors will object? Doesn't anyone want a dog or a garden or just some space that is theirs?

    I think the big cities are anachronisms at this point. I don't see why we bother with them. With the right communications we could run the same economy with employees distributed across the country pretty much where ever they wanted to live.

    This is not an attack on cities... if you really like living cheek by jowl with people then by all means... pack yourself in. It just seems there are increasing problems with the idea.

    Security/crime issues, education issues, political issues, transport issues, economic issues... just lots of stuff. I'm sure it has good qualities but I don't see how the pros outweigh the cons for any but the enthusiast.

  • Taixs are leases? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @02:33PM (#47714109) Homepage
    I see two basic ways this ends up being implemented (not working). Also there might be some combination of these methods.

    1) You have people pick you up and take you places. This will work reasonably well for pre-planned activities - such as your commute, but be very crappy for spontaneous needs. Just like normal taxis.

    2) You don't "own" the car, but it can and will stay at your home/office with no one watching it for hours before/after you use it. Some other people may use it during the hours you don't - such as while you are at work or late at night. Effectively you are the renting from a place that delivers and picks up.

    Neither of these ideas seem workable to me. Both are not significantly different than existing one time use services, we are simply adding in a long term contract for the Taxis or car rental places (with delivery).

    People like owning cars for many good reasons.

    That said, once we have driverless cars, such a plan COULD actually work, in large part because suddenly your don't need to arrange for people to drop off your car/pick it up, it does it automatically.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @02:35PM (#47714129)

    "I really don't see why people pack themselves in that tightly. "

    It's the herd instinct. It's strong in most people.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @02:40PM (#47714179)

    >> it's like your elevator, only horizontal

    Except it's not, because of scale. If your elevator sucks, you can just move to the next building over. If your city's transportation monopoly sucks (or if its workers just want to shut down the system to complain about whatever), you might have to move to a different city for relief.

  • by unimacs ( 597299 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @03:06PM (#47714443)
    Have you ever lived in a city?

    I do. I have a yard and two dogs. Once in awhile we plant a garden. I can even play music. Plus I can walk to local bakeries, breweries, restaurants, hardware stores, beaches, parks, etc.

    A lot of the time, between biking and walking your legs are the only transit you need. If not, there are buses, trains, taxis, and services like Car2go and ZipCar.

    I understand that kind of lifestyle is not for everybody, but the worst thing we can do is spread out more. That has lead to all kinds of problems.
  • by aclarke ( 307017 ) <> on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @04:09PM (#47715041) Homepage
    Wow, so much spewed opinion you seem to think is fact.

    First, air in cities is generally worse than outside cities. You'll be able to find counter-examples, say outside a rural factory, but generally, no matter where you go in the world, city air is worse than rural air.

    You're right that we are mostly a social species. However, this means different things to different people. Maybe you are more social than most. Personally, I have a family I enjoy seeing, and other than that I'm quite happy interacting with just a few other people every week. I neither want nor need more. The difference between the two of us seems to be that I'm willing to let you lead your lifestyle whereas you're unwilling to let me lead mine.

    You're right that cities are easier on the environment on a per capita basis. Of course, there are also plenty of ways that people could be more distributed in a more environmentally advantageous fashion. If you have any interest in the subject and a certain level of intelligence it wouldn't be hard for you to come up with some ideas. Travelling around in other first world countries in Europe would also give you plenty of other viewpoints.

    Additionally, while it's true that cities do in some ways subsidize rural areas, where do you think your food comes from? Other cities? Around here, stickers reminding us that "farmers feed cities" are quite common. Thank you for reminding me that there are people out there like you who need reminding. Finally, it's very rare for roads/phoneline/internet/etc to lead "nowhere". They lead somewhere, just apparently to areas you don't think are necessary.

    Since you're the one painting "small town America" with one wide brush that includes racists, idiots, homophobes and chain store hellscapes, I'll throw that one back to you and state you're the one with the perception problems. The world outside your city is much bigger, and more important, than you seem to make it out to be. There are plenty racists, idiots, homophobes and chain stores in urban environments, and plenty of intelligent, tolerant, and educated people working in small business in small towns and rural communities all across your country.

    For the record, I've spent close to a decade living in the US. I've lived in some of the world's largest cities, and worked in and travelled to many more. I feel very fortunate and privileged to now live on a farm in the country. Overall, my quality of life here is better than anywhere else I've lived.
  • by nblender ( 741424 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @04:31PM (#47715293)

    I live in both. I live in the city on weekdays, and in the country on weekends and holidays.

    Guess which I prefer.

    In the country, I have to travel 20 minutes to the town that has the grocery store, gas station, hardware store, liquor store, and pizza takeout.
    In the city, I have to travel 20 minutes to the grocery store/hardware store, and favourite restaurants. The distance is much shorter but there are more people in the way.
    In the country, I can sit on my porch and listen to birds, frogs, wind, and not much else.
    In the city, I can sit on my porch and listen to wankers with loud diesel trucks, or loud motorcycles, or loud music.
    In the country, the air smells clean.
    In the city, the air smells like.... people/exhaust.
    In the country, if I need emergency medical care, I can drive to the hospital in 20 minutes, and be seen by a doctor in under an hour.
    In the city, if I need emergency medical care, I can drive to the hospital in 30+ minutes and be seen by a doctor occasionally in under 8 hours but usually in under 16 hours.
    In the country, my water comes out of the ground and tastes like water.
    In the city, my water comes from under my street and tastes like bleach.

    Obviously, there are some advantages to living in the city and other advantages to living in the country.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson