Helsinki, Finland, is an extremely comfortable city when it comes to public transport. As an avid driver, I never thought I would let go of the desire to jump behind the wheel in the morning. Yet in Helsinki – that simply does not make sense. Public transport is faster, cheaper, more convenient and does not require parking. After moving to Helsinki my car has been sitting quietly on the parking lot, collecting dust and waiting for the next IKEA trip.
That, however, was not enough. Helsinki wants to create mobility as a service, where a smart system would figure out the best way for you to get from point A to point B. They would use everything to do that: public transport, ride sharing, bikes and the recently launched Kutsuplus by Ajelo – a series of minibuses that use an app and are a mix between Uber and Public Transport.
The minibus drives around and picks people up en-route to a destination with minimal detours, using the algorithms of the app. As a result, it is considerably cheaper than a Taxi – €2.80 base fare plus €0.36 per km.
Ajelo was founded as a consortium with Helsinki Regional Transport (HSL, Aalto University and the Finnish Transport Agency to get the Kutsuplus service on the road. The funding was provided by Tekes in 2011 for R&D and Kutsuplus launched in October 2012.
In the second part of last month, the company announced that they have been acquired by the US based Split Technologies Inc in order to use their algorithms to power Split’s vision to do something similar globally. Split seems to be flying under the radar and we were not yet able to get more information about the company other than the acquisition press release and a waiting list landing page.
The amount behind the deal is also not open to the public, but it would seem that this is an acquihire as commented by the Ario Keshani, the CEO of Split: “This acquisition will help drive our goal of providing affordable, convenient shared transportation options to cities. We are excited about the Research and Development talent and value that the Finnish team will bring to Split.”
Teemu Sihvola, the CEO of Ajelo commented that the team is not treating this as an exit per say, but a kickstart for transport revolution, which hopefully means that we will see their technologies in more cities around the world in the near future.