Interview of Arnaud Catherine, councilor of the Urban Community of Le Cotentin about the implementation of the La Saire TAD Demand-Responsive Transport.
In which context was born the project of La Saire TAD?
Originally there was only Cherbourg-en-Cotentin which had a public urban transport network: 6 to 8 regular lines, coupled with some Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) services for people with reduced mobility called Itineo Access. It was a Demand-Responsive Transport service in the very classic sense of the word. It did not use tools based on artificial intelligence. Reservations were made in advance by phone and drivers’ shifts was managed by a dedicated staff.
We structured ourselves to put in place a real travel plan for the whole Cotentin territory. We did a lot of analytical work on some projects such as the BRT, which alone might not be up to our new ambition. Finally, we experimented three new mobility solutions:
- Long-term-lease power-assisted electric bicycle, which was a great success and showed a real desire to move differently.
- Electric, thematic, touristic and free shuttle that we used to experience gratuity.
- Smart and dynamic Demand-Responsive transport in rural areas with Padam Mobility.
How Demand-Responsive Transport adapt to your mobility challenges?
The low density of our territories prohibits us from offering traditional bus transportation. It would allow at best a dozen people to move during the day. Inspired by the example of the Orleans Metropolis, the Padam Mobility Demand-Responsive Transport solution seemed to us the most adapted to our territory: an urban area of 80,000 inhabitants surrounded by peri-urban or rural territories of about 100,000 inhabitants.
Padam Mobility has been a revelation. You have opened our minds to the fact that we cannot put conventional transit lines everywhere, especially when the territories are not dense and the rolling stock is not suitable.
What are the feedbacks?
Once the service launched at La Saire, the success was almost instantaneous. We faced a colossal expectation of the inhabitants to have a flexible transport service that is adapted to their uses. We soon realized that we were not ambitious enough in the delimitation of the mobility pool benefiting from the service.
Why did you begin with La Saire?
This territory has 3 municipalities that touch Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, and therefore touch the conventional network on which we wanted to interface the Demand-Responsive Transport with. It was a way for us to analyze the relevance of our service design. We wanted to know if the users would come to connect to the conventional network.
What are the future developments?
We intend to make the service 100% accessible to People with Reduced Mobility (PRM) throughout the urban area. Regarding the motorization, an ongoing study will lead us to make choices. To give up gas, it will be necessary to arbitrate between electric and biogas motorization. Today we have experimented on a mobility pool that is far too small. Ultimately, all mobility pools must be covered and connected to the structuring network.
We expect to ramp up gradually. There is a huge expectation from our citizens.
Why did you choose to work with Padam Mobility?
We know that we have an essentially urban, diurnal and schoolchildren-centric public transportation network. Being able to move at night, to go to a show requires to propose a global offer.
Padam Mobility is really the brick that was missing in our global transport offer. We had in mind the structuring lines and services we had connected to them (electric bikes, school buses). For the rest we had nothing. DRT with Padam Mobility makes it possible to complement the existing offer and to propose an integrated and global offer, to eventually cover all the needs of the inhabitants. That’s the point.
Padam Mobility would come to finish to mesh completely our territory which is rather rural by offering a transportation service for all. Whether you live in Taillepied, 26 inhabitants, or in Cherbourg-in-Cotentin, 82,000 inhabitants, with Padam Mobility, everybody could benefit from a mobility offer. It’s revolutionary for a territory like ours.
Arnaud Catherine, delegate councilor for urban transportation of the Cotentin Urban Community and 4th deputy of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin in charge of energy and energy transition.
About La Saire TAD, the Cotentin’s Demand-Responsive Transport Service
Launched in July 2019 in partnership with Zephirbus (Keolis group), La Saire TAD DRT service aims to facilitate the access to the heart of the city of Cherbourg from the peripheral municipalities. Its +900 trips per month score an average of 4.9 / 5.