If your DRT tool does not optimise bookings in advance, it doesn’t really optimise your service. An interface that provides relevant routes in seconds in response to a booking request: that’s the promise of the Dynamic Demand-Responsive Transport for users.
A few seconds is the maximum the user is willing to wait for a result. At Padam Mobility, we allow ourselves a delay of 3 seconds, which is already a lot. But there are two ways of optimising a journey:
- In real time, we have 3 seconds to assign a vehicle and insert a new route within a multitude of routes already planned. The exact time of this new booking will be adjusted by a few minutes between the booking and the departure.
- If the reservation is made in advance – at least 24 hours in advance – a new world of DRT optimisation possibilities opens up ahead of the algorithms that calculate the routes.
Demand-Responsive Transport optimisation : exponential calculation times
On a given territory, the time needed to optimise each new route increases exponentially. The 20th journey may take 10 times longer to optimise than the 10th. The 100th will take an unacceptable amount of time to find the perfect route in real time.
This is why opening reservations in advance increases the optimisation capabilities of your service tenfold. The platform will be able to insert the last journeys, those booked in real time, into a service that is already optimised.
For a classic Demand-Responsive Transport service, it is almost mathematically impossible to achieve perfect optimisation. A service that would serve 50 daily trips would take more than a month to define the ideal itinerary with the current algorithms. We carry out our calculations in the days preceding the journeys in order to arrive at a result where the deviation from the optimal result is less than 1%. That is why everything that is booked in advance saves kilometres of travel, thus time for the drivers, for the users, and CO² for the planet.
DRT optimisation : Improving the occupancy rate
It is even useful to encourage users to book in advance when they can, because the more the service is optimised, the more it accepts passengers who booked in real time. According to a study made by Padam Mobility, 38% of Public Authorites and Transport Operators said the main problem with their DRT was the occupancy rate, the benefit becomes decisive. The service will run faster, travel fewer kilometres, and consume less fuel.
Below, you can see a theoretical evolution of the occupancy rate according to the proportion of advance bookings.
It is preferable to avoid reaching 100% to enable users who have no choice to find a place on the same day. A balance must be found to not saturate the service in advance.
Padam Mobility works on all use cases of Demand-Responsive Transport, which can be adapted in various ways according to the reservations. If there are few reservations for night services, as in Padua, the algorithmic optimisation in advance achieves excellent results on services designed with a zonal algorithm (which takes unconditional reservations in a predefined area), or on a feeder service around a station.
If your DRT tool only promises real-time optimisation, your margin for progress, both in terms of occupancy and operating expenses, is immense. Be careful, accepting bookings in advance and optimising them are two different things. Some tools allow them but only process them in real time.
Other tools only offer bookings in advance: we will come back to the gains obtained through real-time optimisation in the near future. A good DRT service should offer both by default.
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