Helsinki Transit Authority

Here’s an innovation in bus usage that’s so smart we’re not sure it can even work: Helsinki’s Kutsuplus lets you select your pick-up and drop-off locations and times, using a phone app, and then sends out a bus to take you exactly where you need to go.

You don’t get the bus to yourself, of course; Kutsuplus cleverly bundles you with other people going the same way. But it beats standing on a street corner forever waiting for a bus that will take a roundabout route to your destination. And while it’s a little more expensive than a standard bus ride — the equivalent of about $5 base price plus $2 per two miles, while most bus rides would be $2.75-$5.50 — it’s still significantly cheaper than a taxi.

Right now there are only 10 Kutsuplus buses in operation, and they run from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Helsinki plans to expand the operation by 35 buses, but we can’t tell whether this would even work at a larger scale or in a larger city — would it be great because of the high likelihood that someone else is going your way, or would it become a logistical nightmare? I guess we’ll find out some of that when Helsinki’s system expands. If it works, please bring it to the U.S.!

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