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How Helsinki Arrived at the Future of Urban Travel First

A homegrown app called Whim turns the act of getting around a city—by bus, train, bike, taxi or borrowed car—into a monthly subscription.

Pedestrians and shoppers in central Helsinki.
Pedestrians and shoppers in central Helsinki.Photographer: Tomi Setala

Harri Nieminen decided it was time to replace his car with an app.

He had owned a car in Helsinki for the past nine years but recently found he’d lost the patience for parking on crowded city-center streets, especially in snowy months. His almost-new Opel Astra had been sitting mostly idle, so he decided to get rid of it. This lifestyle shift came about with the help of an app offering unlimited rides on public transit, access to city bikes, cheap short-distance taxis and rental cars—all for one monthly fee.