Electric scooters are racing to the streets and on-demand services return for an agile trial

HSL’s IdeaLab competition winners were announced this Tuesday. The winners are ViaVan Technologies B.V. who are offering on-demand ridesharing services and Samocat Sharing Oy, who are bringing public kick and electric scooters to the streets of Helsinki. The pilot schemes for these new mobility services will start in the HSL area next year.

Soon there will be two new public transport options in the HSL area: an on-demand ridesharing service and city scooters. From next year, HSL and the winners of the IdeaLab competition will pilot both services.

The winners of the IdeaLab competition were ViaVan Technologies B.V. and Samocat Sharing Oy. HSL’s IdeaLab competition winners were announced this Tuesday. The total prize money in the competition was one million euros for developing new mobility services. The competition jury selected the winners and HSL’s Board sealed the deals with their procurement decision on Tuesday.

HSL will immediately start negotiations with the winners on the implementation of the pilots.  If everything progresses as planned, the new mobility service pilots will begin next year. The implementation of the pilots will be confirmed when HSL and the winners sign contracts later this year.

The best qualities of taxis and public transport

HSL and ViaVan Technologies B.V. will trial a new kind of on-demand ridesharing service in the Espoo area. The working title of the pilot is Espoo on Demand.

The pilot complements HSL's public transport services by introducing a flexible ridesharing service to facilitate the travel of commuters and residents in the area. The pilot starts with eight vehicles and according to preliminary plans, rides will cost €5.

 “The service combines the best of different transport modes as rides are available door to door or to the nearest metro station, almost as flexible and fast as a taxi or a private car. Ride-pooling makes the trips inexpensive and the customer does not have to look for parking spaces or pay parking fees,” says Jouni Wallander from Solita Oy, who was part of the IdeaLab jury.

In the Espoo on Demand service, a passenger requests a ride to a target destination on a mobile application. The customer can pre-book a ride or request one when needed. The customer is picked by the vehicle from a nearby virtual bus stop. The system’s back-end algorithms combine passengers and routes so that the passenger reaches the virtual stop closest to their destination as quickly as possible.

City scooters are kicking off next summer

HSL and Samocat Sharing Oy will for the first time bring foldable kick scooters and electric scooters for residents and tourists to test in the HSL area.

 “Lightweight and easy-to-use scooters are a great addition to HSL's public transport services and complement the hugely popular city bike service,” says member of the jury Tiina Kähö from the Smart & Clean Foundation.

Scooters are a great option for short journeys of less than two kilometers.

 “This service is a wonderful example of future micro-mobility services. Scooters are a convenient way to travel the first and last kilometers of a journey. A foldable scooter can also easily be taken into a metro or a bus,” Tiina Kähö says.

According to preliminary plans, 50 scooter stations will be placed in central areas.

During the pilot, the service will be available through its own application.

“People have fallen in love with HSL area’s city bikes. Shared scooters will continue the positive trend: traveling by walking or cycling is enjoyable and healthy, and by sharing we reduce the impact on the environment as people have less need to purchase their own equipment,” says HSL’s Director of Department Mari Flink.

Scooters have already been tested around the world and there was a small trial in Espoo.

“Now we want to test whether this concept would work in the wider HSL area. Maybe this will inspire people to kick off into the summer evening and leave their cars at home more often.”

From a pilot to an established service? HSL is seeking new mobility solutions

Launched in June, HSL’s IdeaLab competition sought for new interesting mobility solutions that would update HSL’s current offering. The competition received 26 entries.

“From the competition we wanted to find services that excite people and make the everyday travel of residents in the Helsinki region easy and convenient. It looks like we achieved this,” says HSL’s Executive Director Suvi Rihtniemi.

HSL’s IdeaLab competition received a lot of attention in Finland and abroad.

“We received versatile and high-quality entries, and hopefully, in addition to the winners, we can work with some of the others to develop their ideas into new services in the HSL area. It seems that framing the competition as a challenge was the right way to give the participants the freedom to suggest new and different mobility solutions that would complement the existing services. We have had lots of positive feedback from companies about the competition,” says HSL’s MaaS Project Manager Jemina Uusitalo, who ran the competition.


 

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