The future of mobility: Enjoy shared taxi drives and smart home delivery services

In Finland alone, more than 10 000 authorised taxis drive 830 million kilometres annually. They provide freedom of movement 24 hours a day all year round. However, the demand for traditional taxi rides is declining. Taksiliiton Yrityspalvelu Oy has recently invested strongly in the development of smart mobility solutions – the new era of taxi services.

We discussed the fascinating future solutions with Jouni Mutanen, Department Head of Taksiliiton Yrityspalvelu Oy, which represents Finnish taxi entrepreneurs.  

Do you see smart mobility as an opportunity or as a threat? How do you see the new operators offering transport services – do they put your business at risk?

“Smart mobility is definitely an opportunity for us. With new technology, we can put into practice ‘Mobility as a Service’ and rideshare solutions. This improves the utilisation rate of taxis, and encourages new customer groups to choose public transport over car ownership.

I would say new competing solutions are fine. However, it makes me wonder why new operators with unauthorised drivers can offer illegal rides. This kind of a black market would not be allowed in other sectors. Sometimes it seems that talk of brave new technology and clever applications is used to conceal the true nature of the business. Competition, nevertheless, takes us further, too.”

What kinds of business opportunities do you see in smart mobility?

“Taksiliiton Yrityspalvelu Oy sees substantial potential in home delivery services. Lähitaksi Oy is currently testing this together with the Alepa Kauppakassi service where you can buy food online. A taxi brings food items to the customer during a one-hour time slot instead of the normal three-hour slot.

Opportunities for new business also lie in ‘Mobility as a Service’ concepts, and in the development of taxi services purchased by municipalities and the Finnish social security provider Kela. Many remote areas in Finland do not have bus connections anymore, and there taxis can serve as a means of public transport.” 

What kinds of solutions do you have that support the development of smart mobility?

“Our solutions help the society to save money. Kela pays for around three million taxi rides each year. Thanks to the new dual copayment system, the reimbursement is now available for the customer directly in the taxi. Digitalisation of the system eliminates lots of paperwork. It also allows us to smartly combine ride requests from different Kela customers. We even consult the health sector on how they could provide their regular customers living close to each other with coinciding appointments to enhance easy rideshare. Shared rides will lead to savings of 20 million euros this year only.

As for private customers, we have a novel mobile phone application Valopilkku. With Valopilkku it is easy, quick and free of charge to order a taxi, and you can give customer feedback.”

When do you intend to pilot new smart mobility solutions?

“We will pilot a new rideshare system in early 2016. A customer who needs a lift can check the rideshare options available in the area, and their prices. Cheaper prices mean great savings for both private and public customers. At the same time, shared taxi rides bring along a nice sense of community.

Taksiliiton Yrityspalvelu is also preparing pilot projects on ‘Mobility as a Service’ solutions. By the end of 2015, we will launch a technical interface to integrate taxis in mobility chains developed and run by various mobility operators. In the Turku and Helsinki regions, a pilot application provided by Tuup Oy will allow an employee to choose the most suitable form of transportation for daily trips when going to the office, for example. In Hämeenlinna, we collaborate with TeliaSonera to provide passengers with an economic combined train & taxi ticket. Other exiting pilots are now on the go, too.”

Is Finland a good country for developing smart mobility solutions?

“Finland is an outstanding place to test new ideas due to its great variability of operational environment – from the capital area to other towns and countryside. The country offers top technological know-how, good data connections, and an abundance of companies keen to evolve. We combine the power of start-ups and automation with that of traditional business branches.” 

Smart mobility technology already offers lots of possibilities but the challenge often lies in getting people to use the new solutions. How do you think we could encourage people to use smart mobility solutions? 

“Small-scale pilot projects seeking user experience are the key – service design based on customers’ needs and behaviour is crucial. Bringing a large ready-made solution to the market may not end up being a success: if things fail, the costs can be colossal.”

Further information

Eero Lukin