If only we had some kind of affordable taxi service for major cities. A service that could be accessed via an app, provide a vehicle on demand and take you to where you want to go. Alas, such a thing does not exist.
Except for Uber. A multinational leviathan, which, despite its flaws, is regularly used and loved by tens of millions of urbanites around the world. Ahem.
Nonetheless, plucky Berlin startup Moia, owned by Volkswagen, has come up with this; an electric bus that can carry up to six people across the city in apparent space and comfort. They might be a group of friends, or they could be six strangers. You book it via an app, algorithms do their dance and the minibus with the route that most closely matches your needs comes to collect you.
The marketing strapline for this is ‘one million cars off the road.’ The thing is, people who use services like Uber aren’t often people who would normally drive instead. Either they want to drive and they drive, or they don’t want to drive and they use public transport. The Moia system looks like an appealing alternative to crowded trains and the Tube, so the marketers might be closer to the mark with ‘one million people off public transport’…
The bus is new, all designed in-house by Moia using a Volkswagen Transporter as the rough base. They call it a car, but ignore that. The seats are, or can be, standalone; good for comfort and avoiding the public transport weirdos you always seem to get on buses. Each seat has dimmable reading lights, USB ports and all passengers have access to the on-board WiFi.
It’s set to make its debut in the impressively forward-thinking city of Hamburg next year, where Moia will be trialling various models for commercial viability. Good luck, guys. You may need it.