A new integrated transport system app that allows people to combine all their travel needs via their smartphone is up and running.
Whim provides a transport package tailored to an individual's needs across a number of different modes of public transport including buses, trams, taxis and hire cars, either as part of a monthly fee or on pay-as-you-go.
It has been launched by Finnish company Maas in partnership with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and transport providers.
Whim will offer three options:
- Pay as you go
- Whim Everyday for £99 per month which includes unlimited public transport with taxis and best-price car hire;
- Whim Unlimited for £349 per month which includes unlimited public transport, all taxi rides within a three-mile radius of your location and up to 30 days car hire per month
The launch event in Birmingham's Brindleyplace saw erect a three-storey house the size of a parking space to underline its message of what can be achieved when cars are taken off the streets.
Whim founder Sampo Hietanen said he was excited to bring Whim to the West Midlands.
“We want to challenge the way people start to think about their journeys and let them see that vehicle ownership doesn’t have to be the only way forward. Whim offers a smart alternative for smart people,” he said.
“On average, cars are parked up unused for about 96 per cent of their lifetime – but we still have pay for them, sometimes in conjunction with other transport options too. Owning a car is actually a burden for many people but there’s been no realistic alternative until now.
"We’re certainly not anti-car - we offer access to cars when needed, via taxis or through hire. But we are showing people that they don’t need to be so reliant on car ownership. Once people realise this, the benefits are huge – less traffic, less pollution, less stressful journeys, more space in our towns and cities thanks to fewer cars parked on the road."
Chris Lane, Head of Transport Innovation at Transport for West Midlands said: “Public transport is at the heart of Whim in providing seamless mobility that is easy to use.
“The benefits this will bring to both consumers and businesses are huge – companies can grow, people can get better access to jobs, and the region will attract more visitors and investment.”
National Express West Midlands, Gett, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, nextbike and other transport providers have already signed up to the scheme with others lined up to get involved.
Martin Hancock, Development Director for National Express West Midlands, said: “We are always looking to innovate to make it easier for people to use our buses and trams, so we are excited to be partnering with Whim. We see the service bringing more freedom and independence to existing and new customers.”
Julian Scriven, MD of nextbike UK, which will operate the West Midlands bike-share service when it launches this summer, said: “Whim has proven itself in Helsinki and the app will give more people more access to our bikes when they arrive in the Midlands later this year.”
For more details on Whim go to https://whimapp.com/uk/
Video interview with Sampo Hietanen here.
Video interview with City of Wolverhampton's Stuart Everton for TfWM here.