Since 20 January 2023, the “VGI-Flexi” on-demand service of the Greater Ingolstadt Transport Association (VGI) has also been available for the municipality of Denkendorf
To better match the public transport services of the Greater Ingolstadt Transport Association (VGI) to real demand and unify them, a new regional DRT service was launched in June 2022. The first on-demand service under the “VGI-Flexi” brand was introduced in Beilngries, a small town with about 10,000 inhabitants in the district of Eichstätt (Upper Bavaria). Padam Mobility and Hacon provide the technology behind this innovative regional on-demand platform that unites different areas and stakeholders. The different stakeholders each have different roles and access rights to enable a secure and effective workflow.
In Beilngries and the surrounding area, 70 stops are currently served by two minibuses. Thanks to intelligent algorithms, passengers with similar destinations are grouped together in the same vehicle. Bookings can be made up to 30 days in advance or one hour before departure, allowing the algorithms to calculate the best route and vehicle occupancy in advance. In this way, the available resources are used more sensibly, passengers reach their destination more quickly and empty buses are avoided – aspects that are often denounced in fixed-route services in rural areas.
Several providers united on the DRT platform
A few months after its launch in Beilngries, the VGI-Flexi was introduced in Scheyern. In this municipality of just under 5,000 inhabitants, users also benefit from the same conditions. A ride costs 1.50 euros for all passengers over the age of 14, in addition the usual subscription cards apply.
The third service area to be integrated into the platform is the Denkendorf area. Users of the VGI-Flexi app can easily select their desired service area without having to switch the app or struggle to find different tickets. This not only enhances the travel and booking experience but also increases brand awareness or visibility of the public transport offered in the VGI area.
For the Greater Ingolstadt Transport Association, the digital infrastructure provided by Padam Mobility and Hacon means the greatest possible flexibility and, at the same time, full control over the allocated funds and other resources. On the platform, roles are assigned to the various actors according to their area of responsibility, which in turn provide access to specific data.
Despite sharing a platform and price structure, the individual VGI-Flexi models are not dependent on each other but rather, like all on-demand services operated by Padam Mobility, are adapted to the respective requirements of the area. In concrete terms, this means, in the case of the VGI-Flexi, that there are, among other things, different service times. While users in Beilngries can book their trips during the week from 5:15 to 22:30, the service in Denkendorf will operate from Monday to Friday from 4:30 to 23:30. These differences are based in particular on the different service configuration options. In Denkendorf, the on-demand service acts as a feeder and fetcher between Denkendorf and its villages as well as the Ingolstadt Bahnhof Nord stop at certain times, which was taken into account when determining the service hours.
In Beilngries, the service is not bound to a specific itinerary (free-floating), so it transports users to their destination using the shortest route possible. Also, vehicle fleets of different sizes are used in each of the areas. Padam Mobility’s data analysis tool allows the operators in each area to accurately monitor how and when the fleet is being utilised. Initially, the VGI-Flexi in Denkendorf will start with one vehicle. If it turns out that the demand cannot be met in the long term, the municipality may decide to expand the service. This is done in consultation with the project managers from Hacon and Padam Mobility and can be decided independently of the performance of the other VGI-Flexi services.
Regional on-demand platform: the example of Île-de-France
For about four years, Padam Mobility and Île-de-France Mobiltés have been providing the probably largest European on-demand project for the Paris region. The platform has grown significantly within this time and today comprises around 45 service areas with a total of over 600 municipalities. With this uniform and accessible transport offer, the operators are playing an important role in improving the mobility of people in the suburbs and providing a strong alternative to the private car.
One of the most popular use cases for the services is getting to or from one of the about 120 local train stations. From there, people can take the fixed train or metro lines to the centre of Paris. Not only does this make commuting less stressful, but it also reduces car traffic congestion in the city. And the expansion of the regional platform is not yet complete – only recently, in December 2022, the contract between Île-de-France Mobilités and Padam Mobility was renewed.
VGI-Flexi soon available in more areas
Likewise, the regional platform of the VGI will continue to grow. This year alone, three more service areas will be integrated. A beneficial situation for all operators, as they can use the existing platform risk-free to trial on-demand services. Due to the infrastructure provided, including booking channels such as the user app or the call centre, many cost points are significantly lower. In addition, other expenses, such as the operation of the platform and the technical support, are shared between the individual transport companies.
With this approach, the project has the potential to be economically viable in the long term and can thus positively influence the mobility behaviour of the residents sustainably.
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