What will you do when Big Brother controls your transport options?

Coming soon to a city near you, perhaps?  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Helsinki has an audacious goal: By 2025, it plans to eliminate the need for any city resident to own a private car. The idea is to combine public and private transport providers so citizens can assemble the fastest or cheapest mode of travel. “The city’s role is to enable that market to emerge,” explains Sonja Heikkilä, a transportation engineer with the Helsinki government.

Bus routes would be dynamic, changing based on demand at any given moment. From planning to payment, every element of the system would be accessible through mobile devices. Citizens could use their phones to arrange a rideshare, an on-demand bus, an automated car, special transport for children, or traditional public transit. They could purchase “mobility packages” from private operators that would give them a host of options depending on weather, time of day, and demand.

The idea is to take a quintessentially physical transportation system designed around vehicles, roads, bridges, subways, and buses, and reverse it to revolve around digitally enabled individual mobility—moving each traveler from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible.

. . .

Urban planners are trying to understand how today’s digitally enabled mobility ecosystem can help advance public policy goals such as reducing congestion. These policies also could yield related benefits such as fewer traffic accidents, better air quality, and a smaller urban footprint for parking. Yet today these benefits go largely unrealized because innovative transportation business models tend to operate in silos.

What’s needed is an entity that can integrate all these different transportation players and innovations. Government transportation agencies are the logical organizations to take on this challenge.

There’s more at the link.

In other words, Helsinki wants its residents to become less self-reliant and more public-services-reliant.  Trouble is, any time I hear anyone, or any organization (particularly a bureaucracy), tell me that a more public-services-oriented or ‘public-spirited’ approach will be good for me, I automatically assume it will be bad for my privacy, independence, and wallet.  So far, experience has yet to prove me wrong.

Rule #1:  Distrust Big Brother.

Rule #2:
 When in doubt, see Rule #1.

And no, I’m not about to give up my own vehicle, any more than I’m about to give up my firearms – and to hell with any ‘urban planner’ or transportation engineer or bureaucrat who tells me I must!



  1. Yep, if one cannot go where they want to when the want to, regardless of the 'reason' – they have lost essential freedom. Period.

  2. Bus routes that change at a moment's notice…. making it completely impossible to plan things ahead of time.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  3. Every time government offers to provide a service look into the details.
    Invariably you will find weasel words that effectively exempt that same government and its employees from any consequence should they fail to provide said service.
    Brings to mind several court decisions that state very clearly that law enforcement has no duty to protect the individual. Their responsibility is only to uphold the law in general and catch criminals after the commission of their crimes.
    Remember that the next time anyone says you don't need personal protection because you can always call 911.

  4. EMP, anyone? I have a recurring fantasy about making a "barn find" of a 1960's Chevy C-10. Manual transmission, straight carburetor, breaker point ignition. Can be maintained with a screwdriver, socket set, and crescent wrench.

  5. This can never replace every application for a personal car. I know big government-types hate the freedom of people coming and going as they please and eco-freaks hate cars with a burning passion, but these things sell because they bring FREEDOM to the masses.

    How do they accommodate people who want to use their car to put skis on the roof and drive to a favorite place to dive off road for some cross country skiing? Are they going to outlaw skiing anywhere other than government approved resorts? I understand cross country skiing is pretty big up there.

    Around here, if I want to get up at any time and trailer my boat down to the ramps, my Exploder allows that. If they implement that sort of traffic planning, they've stolen my boat and my SUV.

  6. Well yeah, them having that ideal is nothing new. And, honestly, they've been doing better than expected with it for decades already – some of the wife's relatives didn't own a car while living in Helsinki and did just fine.

    They're already down to the non-urban municipal edges (well, parts of), other corner cases, and special needs with the strict "need" as opposed to "more cost-effective and practical".

    Some of the edge regions still need a boat more than a car, too.

    Myself, I tend to avoid even visiting the capital area, anyway.

    Btw… SiGraybeard, funny that… getting to publicly available ski tracks with public transport isn't a problem anywhere in Finland – you're allowed to ski pretty much everywhere except on private yards and areas fenced off for a specific reason. (Finland has a public general right of way on foot, skis, horse and bicycle. Not allowed to trample crops but skiing on top of snow over farmers' fields is allowed. Yes, this is different from at least most of the English-speaking countries.) The only problem with that is that Helsinki doesn't get much snow compared to most of the rest of the country, on average. And then they go and remove most of that too from the sidewalks… besides, Helsinki is far enough south even for pet rabbits to go feral and survive the winter, too.

  7. Consider the next time someone brings up going electronic money only. The "planners" aka the "rulers" aka "der fuhrerkasten", can effectively keep you where they want you if your "money" only works where "they" want it to work.

  8. Key words being "eliminate the need", which for most of us is getting from point A to point B to meet a specific end. This is largely impossible to accomplish by public transport in most places in most cases. Hence the need for a private car. I know a lot of city residents that never leave their city. If public transport can fulfil all your needs then a car is an excessive expense. Seriously, try owning and running a car when you're under 25. If your needs involve being government-proof, by all means, keep the car. If your needs involve heading out to the arse end of nowhere or at witching hour or both, then by all means keep your car. Just don't try to cheat me out of a public transport system that works on the grounds of a ludicrous slippery slope fallacy.

    1. But if my needs involve/necessarily require having a private vehicle, and "your" (you said "…cheat me out of…" hence "your") "public transport system that works" requires that possession of private vehicles be made illegal, we would have a problem, wouldn't we? That's the scenario Mr. Grant was talking about, and it's far from a "ludicrous" concern. Either way, this particular scheme doesn't directly affect me or Mr. Grant, but that's really not relevant to the discussion. Just my two cents worth. 🙂

  9. m4:

    ALL public transportation systems in the USA run at a loss. The ONLY way they would ever make costs or a profit is to greatly restrict all other means of transport.

    Mass transit is such a HUGE waste of money in the US. This is especially true if they move on rails.

  10. @Will: That might be, but it's not the case here in the UK, and I'd wager it's not the case in various other places. Perhaps the problem's with the US, not with public transport?

  11. Well. According to their own web pages their objective is that by 2025 half of population-related traffic growth would end up on various forms of public transport. (From https://www.hsl.fi/strategia )

    Half of growth means the other half would still go to private transportation.

    So I guess they're still trying to make public transport a viable everyday alternative, and probably so that folks just leave the car at home when they go downtown for work or whatever. So the cost/benefit calculation for the urban planners involves things like parking spaces, road wear and rush-hour throughput, and for the typical urban/semi-urban person it involves maybe keeping a car they'd only use 1-3 days a week on average.

    Anyway, many European dense urban centers aren't really viable at all without public transport any more, these days. Comes from having been built before proper traffic planning was invented…

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