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Could Helsinki's transit plan aimed at making the private car pointless work in Metro Vancouver?

METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Politicians in Metro Vancouver love to think of themselves as “on the leading edge” when it comes to innovative urban planning, but they may want to look at a revolutionary concept being considered in Finland.

Planners in Helsinki want to make it almost pointless for people to have a car in the downtown core. An app will bring together all kinds of ways to get around, including ferries, bike sharing, and buses.

The app will plan peoples’ trips and charge them — all in one place. Helsinki is hoping to have the system running by 2025.

UBC transportation expert Lawrence Frank says there are aspects of this — like the coming Compass Card — in Vancouver.

“We have some pieces that would need to be added… but bike sharing is a critical component of this, and we don’t have bike sharing yet,” says Frank.

He adds there is huge opportunity for something like this here, but a lot would need to be done first. “I think we’ll need to invest obviously more in providing better choices for people than the ones we currently have.”

Helsinki has recently added a mini-bus service that allows people to enter into their phone where they would like to be picked up and dropped off. Frank says he doesn’t see that service being a good primary way for everyone to get around, but thinks it could work well as a specialized service for people who would otherwise not use transit.