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Revolutionary transport app set to go live in West Midlands

By Pete Madeley | Business | Published:

A multi-million pound scheme aimed at revolutionising the way people travel will get its UK launch in the West Midlands next month.

Whim has more than 20,000 subscribers in Helsinki, where it launched last November

The region has been chosen to pilot the Whim travel app, which enables commuters to use a combination of different types of public transport and taxis for a set price.

The scheme will also include the rental of ‘Boris bikes’ – 5,000 of which are set to hit the region’s streets this year.

It is the brainchild of Finnish firm MaaS (Mobility as a Service) Global and works by combining reservation and payment services to find the best routes and modes of transport for any journey.

Whim has been launched in collaboration with the West Midlands Combined Authority, Transport for West Midlands, National Express and other transport firms.

Chris Perry, MaaS Global’s UK lead, said the scheme will offer a range of transport options while taking away the hassle of journey planning and buying tickets, with the added benefit of getting people out of their cars.

“We think this will revolutionise the way people buy and use all forms of transport,” he said.

“There are a growing number of people who don’t see the necessity in buying a car and are happy to look at other options.

“We think Whim offers an easy to use service that makes mobility so much easier.”

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It has been running in Helsinki since November and has more than 20,000 subscribers.

The firm has pumped 14 million euros into the project over the last year. Its UK launch comes at no cost to the taxpayer.

Perfect

Sampo Hietanen, CEO and co-founder of MaaS Global, said he wants to launch the scheme in several other European cities later this year and eventually sees it going worldwide.

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He said: “The West Midlands is the perfect place for us to start in the UK because it is such a large sized area with public transport systems that are already established.

“All the relevant players came on board very quickly and we were able to put a plan together that made the West Midlands first movers in terms of smarter transportation.”

Whim will initially be rolled out to 500 people, before going region-wide by summer.

People can choose whether to have an all inclusive monthly contract, which allows travel anywhere around the West Midlands via bus, train, tram, bike and taxi (within a certain radius), or a pay-as-you-go option.

Hire cars will also be available for a set price.

Visit www.whimapp.com/uk for details on the Whim UK pilot.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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