Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Opinion
Leonid Bershidsky

Millennials Want Apps, Not Cars

Helsinki will test a "mobility as a service" system covering all modes of transportation, proposed by a graduate student. She knows what she's talking about: her generation is more into apps than owning cars.
There's an app for that.
There's an app for that.

Early next year, the Finnish capital of Helsinki will start testing an idea designed to make car ownership unnecessary -- mobility as a service, or MaaS. A single route-planning and payment platform will include all available modes of public transportation, from city bikes to ride-sharing services. It's an ambitious plan that may be the blueprint for the not-so-distant future of most big cities as millennials gain more power, using the consumption model they like and understand best.

Finland is known for its innovative and efficient education system, perhaps the best in Europe. So there's nothing special about the fact that Helsinki's MaaS experiment is based on a master's thesis by Aalto University graduate student Sonja Heikkila. Helsinki's City Planning Department commissioned the thesis, and Heikkila, 24, now works there. So she's not just a qualified transport engineer, she's a millennial, and she understands what's wrong with the current system from her generation's point of view: It relies too much on ownership.