A new integrated transport app that allows people to combine all their travel needs via their smartphone has begun its UK trials in the West Midlands.
Whim is a collaboration between Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), MaaS Global of Finland, and transport providers.
The app made its debut in Helsinki in autumn 2016 and the Midlands is the first area outside Finland to trial the system.
Users are now being sought to take part in the UK Beta release following its unveiling at the recent Bus and Coach show in Birmingham.
Whim encourages people to use transport other than their private car by enabling them to pay for their transport over the course of a month as they need it.
In the West Midlands, users will initially be able to obtain travel on National Express West Midlands (NXWM) buses, Midland Metro tram and Gett taxi services on a pay-as-you-go basis.
The app will establish the best journey routes and deal with tickets and payments.
At this stage commuters need to apply via the Whim website but MaaS Global’s aim is to make the service freely available through the App Store and Google Play by the end of 2017.
Sampo Hietanen, chief executive officer and co-founder of MaaS Global said: “We are really excited to launch Whim in the UK and could not have hoped for better partners with which to launch Whim in West Midlands.”
“Our vision is to make transportation smarter to offer seamless mobility for all people with one service and a single monthly fee - and this way we can offer people a genuine and easy alternative to owning a car.”
“Public transportation is the backbone in realising this vision, and the extensive and comprehensive National Express bus network is a perfect fit. We challenge all of those who signed up for the service to start using it and experience how easy mobility can be.”
Cllr Roger Lawrence, lead member for transport for the WMCA, said: “Mobility as a Service makes the West Midlands attractive for both education, businesses and visitors and I very much hope this next stage of the project leads to its successful introduction as soon as is feasible.
“A lot of hard work by Whim and Transport for West Midlands has brought Mobility as a Service to this significant stage in the project and I congratulate everyone involved.
It is a huge step towards introducing the technology that will integrate all types of mobility choices and present them to the customer in a completely integrated manner that helps get them from A to B as smoothly as possible.”
Martin Hancock, development director for NXWM said the collaboration signalled the company’s ambition to be on the forefront of new developments in the transport and mobility revolution.
“Intelligent mobile technology provides the ideal opportunity for passengers to trial and use our services,” he said.
“By increasing use of our buses, congestion will reduce and air quality improve making the cities and towns of the West Midlands even more attractive as places to live and invest in.”
For more details on how to apply to take part in the Whim pilot go to www.whimapp.com/uk
More details from Mark Langford, media officer, on 0121 214 7278, mobile 07824 626952, email firstname.lastname@example.org
PICTURE CAPTION: Graduate trainee Lucy Gosling of TfWM, left, Chris Lane, head of smart travel for TfWM, Martin Hancock of NXWM, and Stephan Anescot of MaaS Global UK.