Inside the RIDE2RAIL demos: Helsinki
Offering a seamless experience of multimodal travel is the key to promote the modal shift towards public and shared mobility and promote sustainable mobility. To verify how and where RIDE2RAIL shall ensure the reaching of these goals, the project will deploy four demonstrations across Europe in both urban and rural contexts. In these demo sites, real commuters and users will be using the solutions developed by RIDE2RAIL.
One of the RIDE2RAIL demos takes place in Helsinki, from August 2021 until late September 2021 (a second pilot takes place in Autumn 2022). The pilot is led by Forum Virium Helsinki. We spoke to Jari Honkonen, Project Manager at Forum Virium.
Can you give a brief description of the pilot and explain how it integrates public transport with ride-sharing?
The RIDE2RAIL, pilot, which takes place in the Vuosaari neighbourhood, demonstrates how the ride-sharing concept improves current mobility services. It is meant to be an additional service on top of existing transport modes. It helps especially to reach the metro station which is the main mobility hub in the area and improves the connectivity between transport modes. Ride-sharing will be tested first in an automated bus service that connects recreational areas to the metro station. The second part of the pilot will test the ride sharing application.
What are some of the mobility challenges in the region and how do you expect the pilot to overcome these?
Vuosaari neighbourhood is the largest district of the City of Helsinki. Despite the densely populated residential area, near the metro station, the area has a lot of diversity. In addition to urban areas Vuosaari has recreational areas like a beach and marinas, also sparsely populated almost wilderness or countryside and harbour and industrial areas. Connected bus lines to metro station and local shopping centre exist but traditional mass transport can’t cover every corner of the vast area. Walking and cycling facilities are good in the area but those are not preference to some of the people. To fill the gaps between mass transport and cycling and walking, this pilot will test automated vehicle, on-demand use case and vehicle sharing. The goal is to find sustainable and desirable ways to deliver mobility services for use cases and areas which are not well covered yet.
What will be done with the outcomes of the pilot?
The pilot will create valuable information for the City of Helsinki about new mobility services. Forum Virium is running technology pilots in order to collect information on how to make better everyday services for residents and what are the best methods for authorities to produce innovative solutions. Pilot outcomes will be part of our knowledge base of the smart mobility and smart city solutions.
What are the next steps for the pilot?
The first part of the pilot in Helsinki is in progress as we are planning to start the pilot in the late summer (2021). Procurement of an automated bus and operational services is going on. The process to select the vendor will start soon. Also, preparations for infrastructure tweaks have started with city administration and local public transport authorities. Running an automated bus pilot and transport arrangements requires permissions and that will be done in the near future. Dissemination activities will also take place.