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Finland's Algorithm-Driven Public Bus

Soulskill posted 1 year,4 days | from the don't-call-it-a-swede-ride dept.

Transportation 123

Daniel_Stuckey writes "Where's the Uber-like interactivity for getting a bus to come to you after a tap on your cell phone? In Finland, actually. The Kutsuplus is Helsinki's groundbreaking mass transit hybrid program that lets riders choose their own routes, pay for fares on their phones, and summon their own buses. It's a pretty interesting concept. With a ten-minute lead time, you summon a Kutsuplus bus to a stop using the official app, just as you'd call a livery cab on Uber. Each minibus in the fleet seats at least nine people, and there's room for baby carriages and bikes. You can call your own private Kutsuplus, but if you share the ride, you share the costs — it's about half the price of a cab fare, and a dollar or two more expensive than old school bus transit. You can then pick your own stop, also using the app."

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Socialism run amok (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45139911)

If Obama has his way, this is what we will wind up with in the USA. Please, please understand that all wealth is created in private industry and the government is a leech on society.

Re:Socialism run amok (2)

Luckyo (1726890) | 1 year,4 days | (#45139983)

In other news, pants are worn on the head.

Re:Socialism run amok (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140119)

While I agree about the govt being a leech this would be a great product for private industry. But very costly if the govt got there hands on it

Re:Socialism run amok (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140267)

Nah, we won't have algorithm-driven busses, just Al Gore-driven busses.

Re:Socialism run amok (3, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140421)

Personally, I'm excited to hear more detail about how mathematical procedures have been turned into a tangible energy source. Those must be some pretty fancy denotational semantics.

Re:Socialism run amok (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140975)

It's easy. As everyone knows, computers generate heat as they execute algorithms. Heat is energy. Therefore computation is an energy source.

And don't complain that the energy is only converted to heat by the computation. Every energy source does that. After all, energy is conserved, so you cannot generate it, just convert it from one form to another.

Captcha: humored -- seems Slashdot has a working humour detector ;-)

Re:Socialism run amok (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141815)

And don't complain that the energy is only converted to heat by the computation.

If I understand the situation correctly, it isn't [wikipedia.org] - it's simply a physical necessity.

Re:Socialism run amok (2, Interesting)

epyT-R (613989) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140305)

State officials would use it to keep a lifetime's worth of movement on every citizen, and then monday morning quarterback the people engaging in activities (even if only the heuristics suggest it) they don't approve of. Same is true with autonomous cars and anything else billed as a public convenience. They would also be used to rake people over the coals if they are late on their treadmill taxes/useless license 'fees' in unrelated areas. Oh, you want to go to work? Sorry, denied, citizen. You didn't renew your 'autonomous transportation safety license.'

It's already bad enough as it is, no thanks.

Re:Socialism run amok (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140801)

The slope is at a small angle from the horizontal.

By the slippery slope fallacy, you'll soon be living AT THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH.

QED.

Re:Socialism run amok (1)

Trepidity (597) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140731)

The Daily Show had a pretty good episode where they traveled to Sweden to film a warning about America's dark socialist future...

Re:Socialism run amok (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140993)

What is socialistic about this? To me, it sounds like a really good thing to have, as bus service in the US is generally really crappy to begin with.

When I read the summary of the article, the first thing that occurred to me is that it sounded really similar to the transportation system that prevails on the island of Efate in Vanauatu (but in Vanuatu there is no cellphone app for it. You just stand by the road and wait for the bus to come by), and when I was there I found it to be more convenient and more effective than any public transportation system that I had encountered before, first or third world.

Re:Socialism run amok (1)

nospam007 (722110) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141575)

"When I read the summary of the article, the first thing that occurred to me is that it sounded really similar to the transportation system that prevails on the island of Efate in Vanauatu (but in Vanuatu there is no cellphone app for it"

I beg to differ. The name is 'phone app', it's even better than Siri, you flap your lips and magically the bus appears at the address you just told to the phone app.

Re:Socialism run amok (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45141351)

You are a moron. Wealth is created by the people doing the actual work, not the private industry.

Re:Socialism run amok (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45141757)

We already have this in many places in the U.S. provided by private operators, a la super shuttle and the like. Public transit is not necessarily publicly funded.

Re:Socialism run amok (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141927)

TFA mentions that they expect the service to pay for itself.

Re:Socialism run amok (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45142101)

Get your facts straight. If it wasn't for Obama/Government we would already have these provided by the free market. Instead they are being stopped by regulations and taxi unions in bed with government.

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2013/05/06/the-legal-battle-over-new-york-citys-taxi-apps/
http://blogs.seattletimes.com/opinionnw/2013/09/06/seattle-city-council-must-change-taxi-ridesharing-regulations/
http://articles.latimes.com/2013/aug/01/local/la-me-ln-rideshare-garcetti-license-taxi-20130801
http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2013/04/12/taxi-commission-will-regulate-rideshare-drivers/

Re:Socialism run amok (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45143375)

Just look at that card-carrying commie! That vile Mona Lisa smile and those prying pupilless eyes!

https://kutsuplus.fi/images/ingress-img.png [kutsuplus.fi]

Hi! (4, Funny)

fyngyrz (762201) | 1 year,4 days | (#45139913)

I'm Jonnie cab!

Re:Hi! (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140019)

Get to da Hakarl!

Re:Hi! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140093)

Unfortunately, the article states that the bus has a bus driver, rather than being autonomous.

Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | 1 year,4 days | (#45139923)

Now, I am not trolling, but can some one tell me what innovation haas come from the USA in recent years? It all seems to come from countries afar!

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (0)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | 1 year,4 days | (#45139939)

It all seems to come from countries afar!

Socialist commies, the lot of 'em.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45139953)

You're trolling and offtopic.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45139963)

well there's.... no wait .... Greece couldn't pay its bill first.....

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (4, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,4 days | (#45139977)

Weapons systems, contractors, aerospace, telco, medical equipment, computer software (with free NSA inside).
The USA has basically settled into a top 10% doing engineering work for top $ and having it "made in China" or Laos or Indonesia.
Great if you have a double degree paid off or generational trust fund. So the products are been created, just not from the USA beyond design.
The US has the software, talent and creativity to rule the world but the world is moving on to more fun things :)
The world dreams of small busses not another export shipment of boondoggled small US tanks for their generals to park at a base.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140065)

Weapons systems, contractors, aerospace, telco, medical equipment, computer software (with free NSA inside).

The USA has basically settled into a top 10% doing engineering work for top $ and having it "made in China" or Laos or Indonesia.

Great if you have a double degree paid off or generational trust fund. So the products are been created, just not from the USA beyond design.

The US has the software, talent and creativity to rule the world but the world is moving on to more fun things :)

The world dreams of small busses not another export shipment of boondoggled small US tanks for their generals to park at a base.

The rest of the world is taking the short bus. Retards.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140147)

AC that small bus could be an export winner. More fun than looking up at domestic surveillance drones, blimps while stuck in traffic and counting the mpg.
Even booking aspect and the flow of busses could be useful for set transport networks.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1)

mjwx (966435) | 1 year,4 days | (#45139999)

Now, I am not trolling, but can some one tell me what innovation haas come from the USA in recent years? It all seems to come from countries afar!

Search Engines?

The US's huge technological power came not from Americans, but the ability to attract the worlds best engineers, scientists and technicians from around the globe regardless of their nationality. The US has let this attraction slide and other nations have capitalised on it.

Of course the US claiming the Iphone is "innovative" makes some of the more backward nations look good.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140009)

Well, let's suppose that the innovation had come from the USA. The first thing the media would want to know is did a black or jewish person come up with the innovation. Next they would want to know what impact this will have on the economically disadvantaged. Next what kind of liability issues this innovation will entail. If this innovation is going to be competing against another well entrenched business, you can bet the entrenched interests will lobby local governments to get the 'innovation' quashed. So yes innovation does not come from the USA.

Heck you can't even really compare the USA to Finland. If Finland were to suddenly be magically transported into the heart of the USA, you would have 10000 lawyer and politicians descending on the new state of Finland, and demanding why the entire states is so backwards and racists. There just isn't enough diversity in the state. There would immediately be enacted a series of laws that would withhold / take away money from Finland untill it became more ethnically diverse.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1)

FloydTheDroid (1296743) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140031)

No, that's a pretty blatant troll actually.

It's not like the idea of ride sharing is new. This is app based and from a year ago - http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/09/my-life-as-a-high-tech-part-time-not-quite-taxi-driver/ [arstechnica.com] .

But maybe you're right and someone in the US invented a time-machine, when to Finland of the future, stole their app idea, and then decided that that was a better way to make money than using a time-machine.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140419)

China is moving to surpass the US in published journal articles. I wouldn't say that the US hasn't been innovative recently, but other countries are passing the US for the lead. Worst of it is if it wasn't researched in the US you guys won't use the information and will re-research it.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140573)

Well, they've already beat us in retraction rate. Maybe that's why we have to "re"-research it.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140837)

I don't know what tiny elite bubble of academia you're living in, but most published journal articles are uninsightful blabbering. I've read more intellectual theological arguments about the number of angels that can fit on the head of a pin.

The explosion in number of academics or number of articles they publish does not amount to a marked increase in scholarship, but to a willingness to turn any remotely original observation into an academic article. And this remark isn't specific to China or America - it applies across the world.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141931)

It's not like the idea of ride sharing is new.

Except that is invention is not about ride sharing itself, this seems to be about the application of combinatorial optimization to the problem of ride sharing.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1)

fisted (2295862) | 1 year,4 days | (#45142045)

But maybe you're right and someone in the US invented a time-machine, [subsequently used his time-machine to make money,] and then decided that that was a better way to make money than using a time-machine.

is what you just said.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140035)

That's a serious question that deserves a serious answer. Wikipedia saves the day! [wikipedia.org]

..."self-proclaimed net sex commentator" George Kranz, who views recent American interpretations of bukkake as a "significant advance in human behaviour", emphasising the lively, almost party-like atmosphere of American bukkake videos compared to the more subdued Japanese style.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140101)

Now, I am not trolling, but can some one tell me what innovation haas come from the USA in recent years? It all seems to come from countries afar!

Hint: an innovative American transportation company is mentioned in the first few words of the summary.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140335)

There is so fucking many the god damn internet cant even hold it all.
Your mother fucking ass will be the first one in line at the hospital the first time you even dont feel well fuck you.
And the mother fucking horse you rode in on.

Your ass is in the best mother fucking place on the planet your just to mother fucking stupid to know it.
I know I just spent ten fucking years defending it in shit holes that your kind deserve.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45141707)

it sounds like an old Belfast Taxi from way back in the days when you lot were ermm 'encouraging' the more rowdier elements to burn all the buses.

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1)

Burz (138833) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141799)

This is the IGT concept -- Intelligent Grouping Transportation -- that was advocated in the UK many years ago.

I think you're right. Americans only try new things if they directly heighten our tendency to become self-absorbed (or otherwise distracted or entertained).

Re:Innovation comes from all places but the USA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45142297)

Patent trolling?

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45139945)

It is a bus, sooner or later someone else will be on board and you get routed anywhere.

Re:Meh (3, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,4 days | (#45139985)

point is, it's cheaper than cab.

do you know how much a cab costs in finland?
EUR â 5.9 for first 0Km(that's right just getting into the taxi is 5.9 euros)
and then EUR â 1.52 per Km (1-2 passangers).

Re:Meh (1)

quenda (644621) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140041)

The scary part is when it says the Kutsuplus is only a "dollar or two" more than a regular bus.
Buses must be very expensive in Finland too, unless they are only talking about very short trips.

Re:Meh (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140185)

Depends on the part of the world. Buy a ticket from a driver, costly.
Swipe a pre paid card, less costly.
Pension and its much reduced. Some countries even have travel free times for eligible seniors.

Re:Meh (1)

durgledoggy (1931480) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140201)

Why do you think I walk everywhere? This idea is unappealing.

Re:Meh (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140269)

The bus fare here in Finland varies between cities (it depends on amount of municipality aid to operator) but generally, single adult fare is 3.8 USD to 4 USD (and price doubles at night) and you may be allowed to use the same ticket again within certain time perioid (1 hour or so).

Re:Meh (4, Interesting)

nospam007 (722110) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140385)

"The bus fare here in Finland varies between cities (it depends on amount of municipality aid to operator) but generally, single adult fare is 3.8 USD to 4 USD (and price doubles at night) and you may be allowed to use the same ticket again within certain time perioid (1 hour or so)."

I'm from Luxembourg, Europe and here too lots of small towns have also a call-a-bus system like that.
But you just use the regular tickets for it, it's 2€ for 2 hours, no matter where.

Lots of people use it to get to doctor's appointments or to places where parking is either expensive or rare.
Obviously lots of seniors use it too.

Re:Meh (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141959)

Such call services are usually buses that run a fixed route on a fixed schedule, and htat will not run if there are no passengers (that is, if no-one called in to say they want to take that bus). This Kutsuplus runs on demand, on the time you ask, the route you ask. It's more like a shared taxi service.

Re:Meh (1)

nospam007 (722110) | 1 year,4 days | (#45143599)

"Such call services are usually buses that run a fixed route on a fixed schedule, and htat will not run if there are no passengers (that is, if no-one called in to say they want to take that bus). This Kutsuplus runs on demand, on the time you ask, the route you ask. It's more like a shared taxi service."

Yes, this is exactly such a service. Every new customer gets entered with their entry point and destination and some traveling salesman application sends the new route to the buses navigator.

We also have a Call-a-Night-Bus more for the youth actually, but there they usually order their bus days in advance for reaching parties, clubs, fiestas and such and a secure way back without drunk driving.
It's more expensive but many communities pay an annual fee on demand for their 50) use that to get to restaurants, to be able to drink wine during the meal, otherwise 2 glasses would get me over the limit.

Re:Meh (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | 1 year,4 days | (#45143555)

Since we're doing comparative bus fairs here
Cambridge, UK. Where I live has no busses so Bus from the next village (30 minute walk) to the city centre is £4.80 for a day ticket(so about $7.7). About 6 miles each way on the bus.
If I want the bus to work then I've got to go two villages over (lift from the wife) at which point it is £5.80 (about $9), That's about a 5 mile bus trip.

Re:Meh (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140595)

well doh. even long range buses are expensive thanks to the system protecting some routes.

generally long range bus is just a bit cheaper than going by train. how is this possible? because trains are hideously expensive.

but then again hey, it's Finland. everything is more expensive. practically the only more expensive place in the world(quality/price ratio, so monaco is straight out) is Norway.

that doesn't meant that loads of people weren't using the bus, train etc - or drinking 10 dollar beers.

Re:Meh (1)

quenda (644621) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140877)

but then again hey, it's Finland. everything is more expensive. practically the only more expensive place in the world is Norway.

You forgot Switzerland, almost as bad as Norway. But there are plenty of countries comparable to Finland in cost of living, including Japan and Australia, as well as your Nordic neighbours. So don't feel so bad. However Australia is only one Chinese recession away from a massive aussie dollar devaluation, while you folks are stuck with the Euro.

Re:Meh (1)

fatphil (181876) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140981)

To go from a Helsinki harbour to an Otaniemi (just across the Helsinki "border" in Espoo) business park is a 4.50e adult single fare. Even with a prepaid travel card it's about 3.50e. Of course, if you stay within the Helskinki area, it's cheaper, but a lot of people have to cross the Espoo/Helsinki border every day, I guess a bus crosses the Länsiväyla (Lansivayla, if my 8-bit gets mangled) bridge at least once per minute on averate at peak times.

Re:Meh (1)

fatphil (181876) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140921)

And that's the daytime rate. Want a cab on Vappu-eve? You're looking at 8.50e before you've even started moving.

Re:Meh (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140167)

That's true in cities...a lot less so in more rural areas. While Europe is lauded(and for good reason, at least compared to the US) for its public transport system, that system mostly exists only in the big cities. When you get to the more rural parts of Europe bus services are incredibly infrequent if they exist at all. As such there are parts of Germany and Finland where a car is almost a requirement. However a bus that can be called on demand and allows people to split the costs can be quite beneficial, esp. when it comes to shuttling people between where they live and the closest rail station.

Thiefs! (0)

aglider (2435074) | 1 year,4 days | (#45139989)

That was put online long ago on Astronomy Picture of the Day [slashdot.org] . Thanks to a bunch of stupid people (you name them) we cannot see that any more!

Expensive Bus? (0)

zippthorne (748122) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140069)

Only a dollar or two more expensive than "old-school bus?"

Numbers weren't in the article as far as I can tell, so where does this come from? How can anything billed at $5 + $0.60/mi be cheaper than a typical bus far? Just the starting price is more than a round-trip in a lot of cities...

Finland must have some cheap cabs if cab fare is only double a dollar or two more than the bus fare for any non-trivial commute.

Re:Expensive Bus? (5, Informative)

Buzer (809214) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140149)

Kutsuplus's price is 3.50 € ($4.73) + 0.45 €/km ($0.98/mile). For cabs, base price is 5.90€ ($7.97) € or 9€ ($12.16) depending on the time and the price per km is 1.52 € - 2.13€ depending on number of passengers ($3.31 - $4.63 per mile). The price for single mass transit ticket (inside Helsinki) is 2.80€ ($3.78) when bought from the driver and it's good for 60 minutes (or 80 minutes when bought from certain busses).

Re:Expensive Bus? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140703)

Meanwhile in 80 km southwards, in Tallinn, mass transit is free for registered inhabitants of the city... and nope, you don't summon buses. In former Soviet Estonia, buses summon you. :P

Re:Expensive Bus? (5, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141343)

In Tallinn, it makes sense to fund the bus network from general taxes, because only local residents are going to use the bus network: the area that tourists confine themselves to (the port and the Old Town) is so small that they don't really need to use buses.

In Helsinki on the other hand, the tourist attractions are quite spread out, so you get a lot of tourists using public transit, and if you have to keep the army of ticket inspectors working to check up on them, you might as well maintain the fare system as it is.

That said, public transportation is heavily subsidized for those who can prove they are Helsinki residents, and a monthly pass for unlimited use costs only around 40â, which I feel is reasonable.

Re:Expensive Bus? (1)

TheLink (130905) | 1 year,4 days | (#45143583)

It also costs money to charge. Setting up and maintaining the systems to charge people money and handle, manage the money, deal with people with payment issues, often isn't that cheap either.

My personal belief is that for some cities or towns public transportation should be free (at least the buses, trains and subways).

Most shopping malls or office buildings don't charge you to use the escalators or elevators. It costs money to run these things, but the malls and office buildings make the big bucks elsewhere.

So same thing for some cities - if they're a thriving city, public transport wouldn't be a major net income source for the city anyway.

Running public transport like subways costs a lot, but as I said - charging for it costs too. Think of all the subway turnstiles, extra guards to catch those who don't pay or escort the cash, ticket booth operators etc.

How much of that cost comes from the maintenance of the necessary transport stuff (including safety and security) and how much is going to the charging part?

So if a lot of cost is due to the charging part and the transport system is not making much or even running at a loss, perhaps the city should consider not charging at all.

After all if turns out you're collecting only enough money to pay for the charging infrastructure and staff then what's the point? The only benefit is "job creation".

so they are cab's (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140103)

but with vans

I have shared many van cab's though out the years, especially in smaller countries, split the cost and used a phone to schedule a pickup. Other than a name change so taxi's cant do anything about being undercut by the government, whats the news?

Re:so they are cab's (1)

hibji (966961) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140567)

Not totally clear from the wired article, but they seem to pickup and drop off only at bus stops.

Good news, everyone! (1)

korgitser (1809018) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140117)

They must have solved the travelling salesman problem.

Re:Good news, everyone! (2)

dgatwood (11270) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140433)

No, not at all. They just assumed that if a bus takes too long to reach its destination, some passengers would get off and say, "Screw it," until the number of endpoints reaches a number for which the computation becomes feasible. :-D

Re:Good news, everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140485)

Wrong. Schedule is fixed already when you order the trip. There is some flexibility, but routes are fitted so that everyone gets to the destination on the promised schedule.

Re:Good news, everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140459)

You can get a pretty good approximates cheaply, and combining this with remembering most popular routes and some heuristics can get You quite far, pardon the pun.

Re:Good news, everyone! (1)

Garridan (597129) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140489)

Nope. This is nothing like TSP. The problem for this is "given a single new user, find the bus whose current route plan would be disturbed least by adding that user". Optimal point-to-point path finding in (nearly-)plane graphs is really quite easy, and these path deformations shouldn't be hard either. Besides... you only need reasonable approximations, not a global optimum.

Re:Good news, everyone! (1)

Ksevio (865461) | 1 year,4 days | (#45142485)

We have a solution to the traveling salesman problem, it involves checking all the possibilities. Given the city isn't that large, and there are likely roads that can be removed because a bus can't go down them, how long do you think a solution would take? Compared to the rate of a bus, it's likely trivial.

No worries, US will catch up! (1, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140125)

With any luck, our government will also tax our gas to the point where paying $10 to wait for a bus in the rain and then ride in it with random strangers for an hour all over the town will make more sense than driving directly there in comfort of your own car in 15 minutes. And who says innovation comes only from the private sector!

Re:No worries, US will catch up! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140411)

With any luck, our government will also tax our gas to the point where paying $10 to wait for a bus in the rain and then ride in it with random strangers for an hour all over the town will make more sense than driving directly there in comfort of your own car in 15 minutes. And who says innovation comes only from the private sector!

Only if you try to get everything wrong wherever you can. Apparently Helsinki is an expensive town regarding mass transit. Mass transit here is available for $2, is faster than by car and all stops have roofs. To summarize:

1) 6:00-21:00 the waiting times are 5min for a single line and less if you can choose from more than one line on your route.
2) Every stop has a roof so you don't need to worry about rain.
3) Most of the time you are faster by feet than car (3 lanes) if you are inside a circle of 5miles radius around the city core and mass transit has their own lanes (one dedicated lane in the middle of the road), too.
4) 3 doesn't include time to search for a free parking lot. You can avoid that be renting your own for 65$/month though (on the cheap end).
5) Running costs, insurance and taxes make a car far more expensive than mass transit's monthly tickets.
6) You can read, play or do other stuff with your smartphone while on the ride.

Just because your government fails at so many levels it doesn't mean the rest of the world needs to follow.

Re:No worries, US will catch up! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140625)

Helsinki #20
Ranked #19 in 2012
Movie Ticket: $16.00
Can of soda: $2.29
Dozen eggs: $4.75
Beer at a bar: $11.66

you can find a beer for 5 dollars if you walk a bit from downtown though.

HOWEVER.. these(custom route) bus services are mainly for older people, who don't have a car or are not in shape to drive or don't have license. Helsinki being one of the few places in Finland where public transportation works and is generally affordable.

Re:No worries, US will catch up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45141527)

Apparently Helsinki is an expensive town regarding mass transit.

It is expensive if you are an occasional user. A one-way ticket that crosses the tariff region border is 4.5 euros (I think) for adults so you almost always have to pay 9 euros if you go anywhere.

For regular users it's quite cheap. I have a year ticket that costs about 1000 euros. That's about 2.7 euros a day for unlimited travel in the area with bus, train, or tram. A ticket that lets you travel within one tariff region costs about half of that.

I have never tried the kutsuplus minibuses, but then again, I'm not in their target audience (and I know that for certain as one of the guys behind the project explicitly said that to me when we discussed the system). The main problem is that kutsuplus operates in a limited area and about 95% of my bus trips either start or end outside of this area. The second is that it's aimed at people who are not already daily users of mass transportation. When you have a ticket that lets you ride in the area with no extra cost, the threshold for paying 4-5 euros for marginally faster trip is much higher than if the other option was to take a taxi or to pay for parking.

Kutsuplus is a rather new system that's still in pilot use. For the whole time that it has operated, there has been exactly one time where it would have made sense for me to take it. However, using it didn't even cross my mind back then since, well, usually the bus is a much better option for me.

Neat (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140245)

They should do the same thing with trains.

Re:Neat (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140353)

OK, but you have to carry your own track.

Why this is news? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140259)

I don't know why this is news, you could do this around 15 years ago, with only exception being that you had to call them instead of using a smartphone app (I actually used similar travel to go to school for couple years around 98/99).

Re:Why this is news? (1)

tkuCheck (2944677) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141463)

Mind sharing a link that describes this service that you are referring to?

Dial-a-ride (2)

Animats (122034) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140333)

Silicon Valley had that from 1974 to 1976. [google.com] It was called "Dial a RIde". It was a popular service, but too expensive to provide. The hope was that there would be enough people going in roughly the same directions that the small buses used would fill up. But it turned out that there wasn't enough commonality of destination. Everybody wanted to go some place different, and the buses often had one passenger.

Most successful van systems have a common source or destination - a school or airport. Without some concentrating factor, cabs or cars are more effective.

Re:Dial-a-ride (1)

Trepidity (597) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140757)

One thing that may help Helsinki is that it's considerably more compact than Silicon Valley. The region covered by this system is about a 5 mi x 5 mi rectangle, which in Helsinki is actually considered a large area, covering most of the city, and about 750,000 people. Silicon Valley, by contrast, has distances frequently in the 20-30 mile range (say, Mountain View to SFO), and there is no 5x5 mi area that has a population as high as 750,000. It's just too sprawling.

Re:Dial-a-ride (1)

fatphil (181876) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140905)

Looking at the map, the region doesn't even cover all of Helsinki, missing out Hertoniemi and anything further east, even if it includes important population centres in Espoo such as Leppavaara and Otaniemi. So I'd be surprised by your 750000 figure. Almost certainly over half a million though. But of course, you're correct about the compactness.

No lead time (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140369)

Actually the lead time is zero. If you're standing at the bus stop, and suitable bus is near, it arrives as quickly it can drive there.

This is discriminating (1, Funny)

Misagon (1135) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140377)

A system can not be "public" if it is discriminating against people who don't carry mobile phones that can run the app that is required.

Re:This is discriminating (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140425)

You've obviously never been to Finland: *everybody* has a cell phone there - preferably from Nokia in the Oulu area ;)

Re:This is discriminating (1)

fatphil (181876) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140911)

And I would add that this has been the case for about 20 years too. There was 98% penetration back in the mid 90s.

Re:This is discriminating (1)

hughk (248126) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141021)

*everybody* has a cell phone there - preferably from Nokia in the Oulu area

You know, that was what told me that Nokia was doomed. Three years ago, I was staying at the Radisson in Espoo, and I (a non Finn) was the only one there with a Nokia (E71, IIRC), about a couple of km from their world HQ. In the Espoo based company that I was visiting, the standard phone was an iPhone. My Nokia lasted until the end of that year when I went Android!

Re:This is discriminating (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45143207)

Well, nowadays you can find a ton of Nokia's again, its one of their biggest markets(FInland) for the WinPhone model, surprised me quite a bit when I arrived at the Vantaa airport and I noticed that it mentioned 'A Flights App for Windows Mobile, Android and Iphone', and not the other way around.

Re:This is discriminating (1)

profplump (309017) | 1 year,4 days | (#45140535)

I'm not sure what you read that said the system wouldn't allow access from any IP-capable device or even by phone. Most bus systems already provide telephone access to dispatchers (for services much like this) and there's no reason to think this service would be excluded from that existing interface.

Re:This is discriminating (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140615)

We have more mobile phones than people (even if you count infants). Many people have work phones and separate private phones when they don't want to be bothered by work outside work hours. Last statistic I recall is 1.4 phones per capita and that's not counting prepaid ones but those are relatively rare.

Re:This is discriminating (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140839)

I'd say go fuck yourself, but your micropenis couldn't even satisfy your hand.

Re:This is discriminating (1)

bluegutang (2814641) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141017)

Anyone can buy a phone. So it's a public system with a relatively high entry cost.

Re:This is discriminating (1)

Dysproxia (584031) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141239)

The required app is called a web browser and as I understand you can install it on most platforms available ever.

Re:This is discriminating (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45141845)

This is Finland, of course they thought about that and they also have a website and you can order them by telephone as well.

You should try it if you visit Helsinki (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45140751)

Disclaimer: I am actually a former coworker of the researchers who created the planning algorithms running the system.
I've used the system quite a lot, and I can tell you that there are several scenarios where it is way more convenient than traditional public transportation and much cheaper than the traditional taxi service. The most common scenario is when you want to travel crosswise related to the public transportation trunk-lines which start from the Helsinki center and go radially outwards. Often in the traditional public transportation this means you need to switch the buss/train-line at least twice and it also takes relatively long time. Another common scenario is when you have multiple people who don't have the local swipe-card for public transportation. In that case, especially on the routes crossing the zone borders, it is actually cheaper to use Kutsuplus. I admit that in countries where taxis (and private/public transportation) are not insanely expensive, unlike in Finland, there is really no need for this kind of service.

I'd say the closest thing to Kutsuplus I have seen anywhere in the world are the airport-cab services that collect people from different hotels and take them to the airport, and in those you usually have to order the cab several hours before the pick-up time.

We have something similar since ages (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141579)

at night when the normal busses dont travel any more you can call a special cab which picks you up at a bus station and drops you off anywhere you want (in the city limits) for a fixed price. However here the lead time is much longer (30 minutes).

I would never program a self driving vehicle (0)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,4 days | (#45141761)

Driving always entails risks.
But if you put 1000 cars/buses on the road, driving under your algorithm, you are going to kill people.They might be your fault, for not programming perfect, or they might be completely unavoidable. Either way, there is no way to estimate how the public (read media) will react and who they will hold responsible. Even if you are completely legally un-responsible, that does not mean your life will not be ruined.

Re:I would never program a self driving vehicle (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45142615)

These are *not* self-driving vehicles, and you're a moron.

I want a transit system ... (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,4 days | (#45142967)

... like the one in Halting State [wikipedia.org] , where I can get on a bus and then outbid all the other riders to direct it where I want to go.

I'm a finn and I read (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#45143165)

...Finland's Alcohol driven public bus... somehow that sounded more likely. And I'm not talking about fuel.

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