Will public transport be the next Uber?

So if you have been living in the Netherlands you noticed a few things about public transport. First the public transport seldom brings you from your house door, to your destination’s door. Secondly the public transport never seems to be on your schedule. For example, if you need to be 9 am at the university, and the distance is just a 30 minutes by car. But the bus only drives by at the nearest bus stop at 8 am and 9 am, you will have to wake up earlier just for that. And let’s be honest, sleep is important.


Beaten down by the alarm

But what would happen if you could decide how late the bus picks you up and needs to bring you at your destination? And what if it was offered for the low prices of taking the bus and not the expesive cab fare? In Finland 2013 Kutsuplus started offering the citizens of Helsinki this publictransport-service-on-demand. Users need a smartphone and the application installed on it. When ordering the ride and filling in the destination, the application shows the busfare. The bus fare is just 5 euros. What is higher than the public transport, but much lower than taking a taxi. Two years later 15 busses are riding in the city and 9000 bus ride are being completed per month and 30.000 useraccounts have been made (Cohen, 2015).

The travellers pay a low price, but right now the service isn’t making a profit. The costs per ride are around 40 euros.These costs are being subsidzed by the city. The chairman of the Kutsuplus says that the service is cheaper than building a railroad or new road. In 2020 they expect to be able to operate in the black numbers. Another reason to keep this project going is the goal of decling car usage in the city.

Helskinki isn’t the only city with this service. In the US bus operator Bridje offers the same service in the cities Boston and Washington DC. And we can’t forget about car sharing services like Snappcar, or carpool services like Bla Bla Car. These services share two main goal for the consumer: lowering the travel cost and delivering a comfortable travel.

Personally I have used Bla Bla Car once and had a good experience with it. Snappcar and other car sharing services are still new to me, but I am willing to try them out. But I think that the public transport will have my preference. I don’t need to negotiate about a carpool price or car sharing price. So I am eagerly waiting for the public transport to transform into an on-demand service. Just the thought of not needing to wake up earlier just to catch the bus, makes me happier in life.

What do you think? Will the public transport evolve into an on-demand service? Or do you think that this is just a phase in Helsinki?


Barry, K. (2013) “New Helsinki bus line lets you choose your own route” [Accesed on 10 october 2015] http://www.wired.com/2013/10/on-demand-public-transit/

Brustein, J. (2014) “Helsinki’s Uber forbuses is stuck in first gear”. [Accesed on 10 october 2015] http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-05-16/helsinkis-uber-for-buses-is-stuck-in-first-gear

Cohen, R. (2015) “Een paal waar op vaste tijden een bus langsrijdt is passé’ [Accesed on 10 october 2015] http://fd.nl/morgen/1121283/een-paal-waar-op-vaste-tijden-een-bus-langsrijdt-is-passe

Wijk van, K. (2015) “Ritje Kutsuplus kost bijna 40 euro” [Accesed on 10 october 2015] http://www.ovmagazine.nl/2015/01/ritje-kutsuplus-kost-bijna-40-euro-1343/


3 responses to “Will public transport be the next Uber?”

  1. oscarchongis says :

    I think that you also have to take the emission and the amount of traffic into account. If many people make use of this system the emission from all the busses will be really high, and the amount of traffic on the road will also be higher. But I’m very curious about this system. Will it take a longer time to go to your destination if the bus is full and everyone has to go to another location?

    • 347015ia says :

      What I understood from the system is that it calculates your destination and gives you a price and your travel time. It also gives you a discount on your bus fare if you are willing to walk a mile to the different pick-up place.

  2. stephanieflorence says :


    Thanks a lot for this post, I didn’t know about this service in Helsinki until now. For me, this is a very interesting topic; about a year ago, I worked full-time in Amsterdam but lived in a small village, exactly in between Leiden and Schiphol. The distance between my house and work was just half an hour by car; however, as I did not own a car at that time, I had to take public transportation. And getting to my work by public transportation took me 2 hours. Imagine that you work for 8 hours a day, plus four hours of travelling – that makes a really long day and waking up very early. Of course, I eventually decided to get a car, just to minimize my daily travel time by three hours.

    The government wants to get as many people on public transport to reduce emission, yet they reach the opposite effect if public transportation is so inconvenient. Let alone costs; driving to my work by car is way less expensive than using public transportation.

    What also strikes me in more ‘rural’ areas; busses drive a very inconvenient route, only to find that at most bus stops no one is waiting. This seems like an unnecessary expenditure; how great would it be if busses can take a more convenient, shorter route, in order to save costs, just by knowing which passengers to pick up where?

    Therefore, to me it seems like a very good idea to increase convenience for the guest whilst decreasing costs for both parties! I definitely hope that public transportation The Netherlands will be evolved like this soon.

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