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Scaling up to 100 vehicles would have increased the efficiency of Kutsuplus threefold, Rissanen says. “There’s a huge difference between mass transit that works in some areas some of the time, and mass transit that works everywhere all the time,” he says.

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The service matched passengers who were headed roughly in the same direction with a minibus driver, allowing them to share a ride that cost more than a regular city bus but less than a taxi.

It was a bit like an Uber for buses or more accurately, like Uber Pool — except that Kutsuplus was running for nearly two years by the time Uber got into the ride-sharing side of its business.

Judging by online reactions, there was something special about Kutsuplus.

Melancholy tweets from riders seemed to lament the loss of a service that was too good for this world.

While fans of Kutsuplus are out of luck for now, transit riders in known as Split merged with Ajelo, the Finnish startup that developed the software behind Kutsuplus.

A team in Washington runs the system’s day-to-day operations while engineers in Helsinki continue to manage the back end.The growth rates matched what the researchers had projected: Eventually the system had 21,000 registered users.“We wanted to verify if Kutsuplus was a service that could compete with private car ownership,” says Kari Rissanen, who managed the project at the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority.For passengers, the system was fairly straightforward.You would log onto a website, top up your account, select the starting and ending points for your journey, and walk to the closest bus stop to wait for the pick up. By comparison, a single ride by bus or metro is €3.Ajelo developed software and a routing algorithm that could take in data about a fleet of buses, traffic and trips requested, and calculate optimal routes.