The Stakeholder Dialogues – First guidelines

The Stakeholder Dialogues or conversations are a central pillar of the March 2021 collaborative enquiry: Examining the prospects for Equity-Based Transportation Practice in Helsinki.  This open dialogue  is hosted by the Helsinki Department of City Planning and Transportation in collaboration with a wide range of local stakeholder groups.

Stakeholder Dialogue Highlights:

  • Dates: 15 – 27 March 2012
  • Invitational  event (See Contact below to initiate discussions)
  • Timing:  Each workshop lasts from one to one-and-a-half hours, at the choice of the Stakeholder Group
  • Address:  Kansakoulukatu 1 A FI-00099 City of Helsinki. Room number: (to follow)
  • Working contact: Taneli Nissinen, Traffic Engineer, City of Helsinki.  (9) 310 37091


This is basically a relatively modest and straight-forward  project.  The goal is to organize these open peer discussions (between 15 and 20 are programmed in all)  looking together at the basic principles of Equity-Based Transportation to see if these exchanges can yield any insights that might be useful for policy, planning or project purposes.

The involvement of a good range of local stakeholders (user groups, transport service providers, academia, government, private sector groups, NGOs) in the fact-finding, dialogue  and decision-making processes is central to improving the responsiveness of transport planning, policy and investments  to a broad set of users, as well as making the best use of limited public resources. These interests range from such traditional concerns as mobility and congestion to a wide range of non-traditional concerns such as climate, social equity, economic development, competitiveness, institutional effects, environment and participatory democracy.

For more we invite you to consult the main website at We particularly  recommend you have a look at the program summary First Helsinki project announcement, along with the Working Papers that are being collected here.  You also may find useful background in the supporting social media site at

Quick comment on the Equity theme:

The basic concept of equity — which is not to be confused with equality, no matter how important that might be —  rather has to do with attributes such as fairness, social inclusion, compassion, decency, dignity and, perhaps above all, equality of opportunity and access.

Finland’s exemplary success with creating an equity-based educational system is appreciated worldwide, and we are hoping to see if this experience can help us to clarify how the same basic principle of equity might be eventually applied to transportation reform and practice.

We need to make the point here at the beginning that the goal of this project is not to “sell” the equity theme as a basic organizing principle for the restructuring of mobility arrangements in the city. What we hope to do is  to get together with a wide range of people and interests, and talk over the concept and its eventual ramifications in our sector, with a view to providing a range of independent visions and eventual guidelines for public policy and own action.

 Workshop Goals/procedures

We propose that each dialogue will  (a) open up with a brief   presentation by the Helsinki City team introducing the project and sketching the main intentions, thoughts and findings on the topic of the equity/transport approach to transportation policy. Again, this presentation is not intended to shape the discussions or conclusions; rather it is meant  to set the stage for the discussions that follow.

Following this introduction, the visiting team is invited to take the floor in order to (b) provide their critical appreciation of local practices and problem areas with examples of both equitable and in-equitable transport practices and arrangements in Helsinki.

Then in the following section, they are invited to (c) present their general views and comment on the equity theme as a possible policy tool or strategy for future planning and investment purposes overall in the sector.  Following that to go on to  discuss (d) what might be better and worse points of public policy and the existing  mobility arrangements as seen from their specific area of concern.

What we hope to gain and share from these exchanges and messages to the policy makers in the city is to give them access to a wide range of views and recommendations on the topic of equity as a policy, which can subsequently be widely shared and further discussed.

2012 Master Class Session Themes:

A main goal of the workshops is to see if the participating group is ready to accept the invitation to participate in the Master Classes which are being held from 21 – 23 March in the auditorium of the Helsinki Department of City Planning and Transportation. Each participating group is invited to make a short presentation to the Master Class of their main findings, recommendations  and position on the subject, followed by an open discussion and questions from the audience and the organizers.

21 March:  People First: User Groups (Facts, inequities, toward equity)

  • Car owners/drivers (+/-)
  • Public transport users
  • Marooned users: Poorly served areas, penalizing economics, unfair travel times, housebound
  • Elderly and handicapped (in a graying society)
  • Cyclists, pedestrians, hawkers, talkers and gawkers (i.e., transport and other uses)

22 March:  Service suppliers – Examples and potentials

  • Cars, streets and parking (The good, the bad and the ugly)
  • Public transport innovations for greater equity
  • Share/Transport: Taxis , carsharing, ridesharing, paratransit
  • Safe streets and social space strategies
  • Movement reduction: Planning and electronic

23 March:  Facilitators (Gov , media)

  • Mayor, city council, local government and agencies
  • Political parties (all)
  • Public interest groups (such as Demos, Dodo)
  • Schools and universities – Creating a culture of equity
  • Media (old and new, including blogging, social media, etc.)
  • How to spread the equity virus in Finland and beyond

 (This listing  is provisional and under continuous updating. For the latest please consult here.)

Short Report by Focus group

Both the visiting team and the Helsinki City team are asked to name co-rapporteurs to help lay the base for the final findings.reflections  and recommendations of the session, which can then e shared with the other groups involved in the project as well as those following the discussions on the web.

At the end of each workshop the rapporteur selected by the group team will be invited to provide a 5 minute oral summary of main findings, observations, reflections and recommendations of the session to the host team from Department of City Planning and Transportation, with the hope that in the following day these points will be summarized in a short paper which also can be used as a working note in support of their presentation and recommendations to the final Master Class session in which they will be participating.

The Helsinki project in brief

The project keys on a series of brainstorming sessions organized over the month of March 2012, with a team working under the aegis of the Helsinki Department of City Planning and Transportation, meeting and exchanging ideas and proposals with a cross-section of individuals and groups, government, private sector and volunteer organizations, to examine together what the transportation system of the city and its surrounding areas might look like, if, instead of distance, speed and vehicles, public sector investments and actions were required to look first and above all to the concept of equity.

One reason for choosing a Finnish city for this first collaborative peer investigation  is directly related to their extraordinary  accomplishments over the last years in building one of the most highly respected educational systems in the world (see the OECD PISA program results over the last decade) based specifically on the concept of equity. Our project will also examine the strategic base of their success in the education sector, to see if there are lessons which can be applied to transportation systems reform.

We are well aware that in many parts of the world the transportation arrangements are grossly unfair to the very large proportion of the population.  Some cities, some projects do better than others, but the broad central trend is there, and it is not good. The systems and services offered are often outstandingly and visibly unfair to the elderly and to the frail, to those who cannot drive and do not have access to cars, those who cannot afford to own and operate a car, including those who may work and own and use a car but who really are not sufficiently well-off to be able to afford the high costs associated with car ownership and use, those who are penalized in their daily and family lives as a result of having to travel long distances in often inconvenient or even absent public transportation, to those who would like to walk or bicycle in safety, to children in many aspects of their day to day lives, to women who by and large are not fairly treated by the existing transportation arrangements, and the long list goes on.

In a word, in most cities on this planet for the great majority of all people the present transportation arrangements are inequitable. The largely unquestioned all-car no-choice transportation paradigm of the 20th century is not doing the job for the transportation majority. The mobility services offered are unfair, inefficient and uneconomic.  So what if we were to turn the situation around and take as a starting point for public policy and investments in the sector not so much those twentieth century values of speed, distance and vehicle throughput, but 21st-century values of equity , social justice and deep democracy.

One of the key pillars behind this program is a belief that, properly engaged, the move to equity-based transportation can lead to greater efficiency and economy both for specific groups and individuals, and also for the city and its region as a whole. That it is to say, it is going to be a step up, and not a step down.  But now let’s have a look and start the discussions.

Contacts: International Eric Britton, Tel. +331 7550 3788    Skype: newmobility

Taneli Nissinen, Traffic Engineer, City of Helsinki. + 358 (9) 310 37091

Helsinki Department of City Planning and Transportation

Kansakoulukatu 1 A FI-00099 City of Helsinki

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