The transport system in Finland
Today, I discuss the transport system in Finland. I must say that I discuss this because of my admiration for how well it is organised.
Public transport in Finland is generally efficient, reliable, safe and on time. Because of the time-conscious nature of the transport system, usually people do not miss appointments or meetings; often, someone cannot use transportation as an excuse for being late unless the person missed the time to catch the bus or train, for example.
Travelling to places by public transport can be easy and without any worry at all.
Different types of means of transport
There are different types of public transport. For example, Helsinki as the capital city boasts of a network of buses, trains, trams, an underground train (locally called “Metro”), and taxis to carry travellers from one place to the other, in-between suburbs, cities and towns.
All these means of transport are government-regulated or run by the municipal councils. Even taxis are government-regulated (www.expat-finland.com).
These different types of public transport go alongside the private cars, motorcycles, and the countless bicycles that many people own.
Bicycles as environmentally-friendly means
I have noticed something very interesting about the use of bicycles. Although it is very common that people have their private bicycles (even if they own cars) to travel on short distances, public renting of bicycles are becoming quite popular especially during the sunny summer period.
I think many people use bicycles because they see it more as environmentally friendly since bicycles produce no meaningful pollution to the environment when in use.
The Helsinki City Bikes are shared bicycles (that is, bicycles that are displayed publicly for hire) seasonally. The bike hiring scheme is considered one of the most popular city bike systems in the world.
The number of bikes for the hiring is quite high. For example, the 2021 season has 4,600 bikes which are placed at 460 stations or points, and riders (or clients/customers) can hire on a daily, weekly or seasonal basis.
The minimum age for riders is 15.
Technology and public transport information
Today, we live in a technologically-advanced world where accurate information can be shared widely and faster to educate people about various issues or circumstances.
Although someone can purchase a ticket from physical sales points, the Finnish transport system is also supported by a well-developed technological system for purchasing the tickets.
For example, customers can buy tickets from an application which can be downloaded unto mobile technology devices.
The Finnish Transport Agency provides a point-to-point local and long-distance journey planner for Finland. In this way, travellers can easily have accurate information to help them in planning their journeys.
The traveller can type in his or her place of departure and place of arrival or the times for departure and anticipated arrival time for the trip.
Results for such searches are walking routes (such as distance to the bus or train station), the names of the bus stops or train stations and numbers, connection information, etc.
Moreover, most towns have their own websites with timetables, prices and other public transport information (www.expat-finland.com).
Learning from Finland
We in Ghana can learn from Finland and establish a comprehensive and well-organised public transport system.
Finally, maybe one day when we have more funds we can copy the Finnish system and have different types of transportation available for travellers. It is good that we are rebuilding the railway network in Ghana, which has not functioned properly for some years now.
What impresses me more about the Finnish public transport system is the fact that even taxis are government-regulated.
To me, in this way there could be little or no room for irregularities such as driver misbehaviour, personnel apathy, unsystematic planning or manipulation of customers by a private transport owner.
Maybe this can also improve how we organise our own system, especially if one day we can develop the transport system in Ghana. Let’s start thinking about this. Thank you!
GHANA MATTERS column appears fortnightly. Written in simple, layman’s terms, it concentrates on matters about Ghana and beyond. It focuses on everyday life issues relating to the social, cultural, economic, religious, political, health, sports, youth, gender, etc. It strives to remind us all that Ghana comes first. The column also takes a candid look at the meanings and repercussions of our actions, especially those things we take for granted or even ignore. There are key Ghanaian values we should uphold rather than disregard with impunity. We should not overlook the obvious. We need to search for the hidden or deeply embedded values and try to project them.
The writer is a Ghanaian lecturer at
the University of Helsinki, Finland