Costing more than a bus but less than a taxi, Kutsuplus is a new public transport service that's just been established in Helsinki, Finland.
The basic idea behind Kutsuplus is that it's a bus service that goes where you want it to go. It thus has all the convenience of a taxi but, in carrying more people, it leads to a lower overall carbon footprint.
As you might expect, to use Kutsuplus isn't a simple case of embarking and declaring your destination in your most stentorian tones. It is, of course, a little bit more complicated than that. Or a lot more complicated than that if you find the world as confusing and frightening as I do.
The Helsinki Transit Authority website explains Kutsuplus using three smiley, friendly and simple drawings. First, using either your computer or a mobile phone app, you book a ride.
All Kutsuplus users must register and set up a “Trip Wallet”. This is a cache of money, rather like an Oyster Card, which you top up in advance. When you book a ride using the Kutsuplus app, money is withdrawn from your Trip Wallet, and in exchange you're given a digital ticket and a walking map to your nearest departure stop.
The Kutsuplus itself is a minibus with enough room for up to nine passengers, with free wi-fi onboard and enough room for a pram or a wheelchair. There are currently ten Kutsuplus buses running in Helsinki between the hours of 7:30-18:30. As many as 35 more buses are planned for the future.
There's no reason to suggest that it couldn't. Kutsuplus runs on an algorithm, triggered when a journey is booked, which determines the most direct route to a passenger's requested destination whilst grouping together passengers going in the same general direction.
This sounds like an extraordinarily complicated calculation, which is why Kutsuplus could only ever work in comparatively contained locations such as Helsinki.
With its static traffic, its myriad of hotspots and its sprawling miles of twisted streets that appear to pay no attention to the laws of physics nor reason, it's hard to imagine a scheme similar to Kutsuplus operating in London. However, perhaps the Kutsuplus could work in urban environments that are just as hectic but a little less bustling, such as Liverpool, Manchester, Nuneaton and Dis.