Kutsuplus, which means “call plus” in Finnish, is an on-demand minibus service run by Helsinki’s public transit authority.
The service lets riders summon a bus with their smartphone and choose a start and end point. The riders can also choose to take a private trip or share a bus with others. A bus can accommodate up to nine passengers. If a rider opts for a shared ride, Kutsuplus uses an algorithm to determine the most direct route for all of the minibus passengers whose destinations may vary.
The service costs a little more than a bus ride, but less than the usual Helsinki taxi fare. Kutsuplus fares are paid for in advance using a Trip Wallet feature. Riders can transfer money to their Trip Wallets from their credit card or bank accounts. Soon, however, passengers will be able to pay for their fares by adding it to their phone bills via SMS.
According a post on Wired, Helsinki Regional Transport Authority Program Director Kari Rissanen said Kutsuplus isn’t meant to replace cabs or the bus, but is meant to help car-drivers transition to public transportation. Kutsuplus is also more appealing to those who need to change buses or routes often in their regular commutes. The service also benefits those who want to save up on parking fees. Those who are fine with the current bus routes should continue riding the bus if it’s easier and more convenient for them.
The minibus service was piloted last year with ten buses, but expansion of the service could extend to a hundred buses.