Helsinki Smart Mobility Development Moves Forward with On-demand Boat Rides

Uutta Helsinkiä
Photo: Julia Kivelä / Visit Finland

The BOUT peer-to-peer boat ride platform enables a novel water transportation service

The Helsinki archipelago and waterfronts can be accessed from spring 2019 onwards by hiring a private boat from BOUT. The development of BOUT is supported by the Last Mile program as one of several pilot projects testing new mobility concepts in the Helsinki metropolitan area.

“The idea for BOUT came to us when we needed to arrange a ride to a Helsinki island. We couldn’t find a convenient boat service, so we decided to develop one,” says Joonas Sipari, one of the three founding partners and team of four of BOUT.

BOUT is a for-profit P2P platform for on-demand boat rides. The service has been dubbed in the Finnish media as “the Uber of boats.”

Rides can be offered by watercraft owners licensed to carry passengers on a commercial basis. The owners operate as independent entrepreneurs. The service can operate between tens of pickup and drop-off points located inside the sea areas of Helsinki and the neighboring city of Espoo. The cost of a ride depends on the size of the boat and the length of the ride, starting from a few euros for the shortest rides.

BOUT was launched in October 2018 with test rides. The service is expected to be fully operational as the 2019 boating season opens in Helsinki. A free iOS version of the BOUT app is already available from the App Store (search for “the bout”).

The new service will significantly improve access to islands and waterfronts in the Helsinki metropolitan area, which is strongly characterized by its maritime environment: the sea area has 465 islands, many of which the general public is free to roam under everyman’s right. Helsinki develops many islands as recreational destinations.

BOUT is one of several agile pilot projects conducted in the Last Mile smart mobility program in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The pilots use the area as a testing platform to develop commercially viable, scalable mobility concepts. The main project area in Helsinki is Jätkäsaari, an inner-city district under development at the site of a former freight harbor for housing, business, and extensive passenger port operations. Jätkäsaari is an ideal mobility testbed due to the district’s mixed use, high density, demanding conditions for movement, and high demand for public transit services.

“Urban mobility is in transition as a result of digitalization, new technologies, and legislative changes. Moreover, the values and behavior of urban citizens are changing. Helsinki plays an active role in this transition, promoting the development of new, smart mobility,” says Janne Rinne, the Last Mile project manager at Forum Virium Helsinki. Last Mile gathers together local residents, businesses, and universities for co-creation of mobility solutions.

In addition to BOUT, pilots in Jätkäsaari focus on the movement of travelers to and from port terminals, to Helsinki Airport, and in the area. A key goal is to promote the use of sustainable transportation modes, as well as to produce new services.

One pilot promotes car sharing by making low-cost parking available to DriveNow customers with the help of a parking app provided by EasyPark. In summer 2018 pilots, rental e-bikes from Vapaus Bikes and the Route Pepper audio navigation app were combined for audio-navigated e-bike tours, and the NorsöLine water transportation company provided new transit options.

Forum Virium Helsinki is a City of Helsinki unit that develops digital services and urban innovations with partners and citizens. Forum Virium Helsinki also manages the Smart Kalasatama project, which focuses on urban living.

The Last Mile program is supported by the European Regional Development Fund with 1.9 million euros in 2017–2019.



Jätkäsaari smart mobility pilots

City of Helsinki