Best practice in Digital DRT and Community Transport – Q&A


Beate Kubitz, Victoria Armstrong, and Louise Currie discussing Best Practices in Community Transport

The recent webinar on Community Transport and DRT threw up some interesting questions. It focused on The Robin in the Forest of Dean, operated by community transport operator Lydney Dial-a-Ride and was hosted by Victoria Armstrong, CEO of the Community Transport Association (cta). Louise Currie from Lydney Dial-a-Ride provided insight into the community approach to running a sophisticated DRT operation, with metrics provided by independent transport consultant Beate Kubitz. We selected some commonly asked questions from the chat and outlined our replies below.

How did you promote the new service to everyone? We also have an older generation mainly in the area and have already had some passengers concerned about the DRT system to be implemented.

Working with a CT operator has been great for this. Lydney Dial-a-Ride already has good understanding of this group and in the webinar Louise outlined her approach to getting people on board. The data shows that we have seen great uptake from this demographic across app and call centre usage.”

I think a key metric when evaluating DRT is passengers carried per hour (or, to avoid issues with variations in distance, passenger boardings per hour). Would you agree that, if the result is lower than can be provided on a fixed route, the funds would be better spent on traditional fixed route (or timed many-to-one DRT) service?

We look at patronage per revenue our as a metric and want to grow this. However fixed line services would not be able to serve such a diverse range of destinations as the DRT where the virtual stops do not have to be distributed along linear routes and can provide for people across the area. Serving the same stops by fixed route would be very expensive . DRT provides more accessibility for more people. To improve value we try and design systems to carry people to a central hub, allowing them to make an onward journey on a bus or train. Also, in places where there is a fixed route service, there is an option to direct people towards the fixed route and ensure that DRT does not compete with routes served by commercial services.”

How can passengers guarantee a trip for a fixed arrival time, e.g. for medical appointments?

The Padam Mobility software that sits behind the DRT offers both a “depart at” and “arrive by” option when journeys are booked. We approach DRT from a public transport approach rather than a ride-hailing / taxi approach. This means that the arrival time is “locked in” after booking and is the latest time that you could arrive, inclusive of any other users that you share your journey with.”

Why does it have to be to bus stops – why can’t it be door-to-door?

Whilst it’s possible to run a door-to-door service, we’ve found that services with virtual stops work more efficiently. Virtual stops increase patronage rates as you are asking people to congregate at virtual or physical bus stops. Otherwise you could theoretically use a large amount of the flexible journey time stopping at each house on a street rather than a single collective stop. Also stop to stop services helps DRT distinguish itself from other services such as dial-a-ride that may be door-to-door given mobility needs of users.”

Is completely flexible DRT really sustainable? Some commentators suggest that many-to-one services (e.g. Petworth Route 99, Wiltshire Connect (ex-Wigglybus)) may stand a better chance (as has been proven over many years).

Semi-flexible DRT can help drive higher loadings but not all rural areas have population densities that can support this. Flexible DRT does have some place in the more isolated areas of the country, but can operate as a feeder service to key hubs, such as transport interchanges and town centres. The services in Gloucestershire and in Hertfordshire support this observation where 15-20% of trips start or end at rail stations.”


This article might interest you as well: DRT & Transport Consulting – Webinar with Xuefei Wang, Jack Holland and Chris Hillcoat – Q&A 

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Accessing rural bus services – How can we ensure equity? – Q&A

Hertfordshire County Council has been providing the HertsLynx on-demand service since 2021. The service was the first Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) to be funded by the Rural Mobility Fund, with the council receiving a total of £1.4 million in funding from the UK Department for Transport in spring 2021.

The DRT, developed by Padam Mobility, was designed to improve the mobility challenges of the rural area. In north east Hertfordshire, public transport services were infrequent and sparse. A total of 10 neighbourhoods, with a population of around 4,000 people, had no access to a public bus at all, with the deprivation that entails. These people relied on a private car to get to work, go shopping or attend leisure activities, and if they did not have access to one, relied on family, friends and neighbours for all their transport needs.

The newly introduced HertsLynx service was implemented in areas where commercial services do not operate for economic reasons. The 400 km² service area covers six Key Town Hubs connected to the rural areas. Rather than following a fixed route, the on-demand service transports users in a free-floating configuration along the fastest route to their destination. All existing bookings are processed by an algorithm and calculated in such a way that as many passengers as possible are grouped together in the same vehicle.

Rapid uptake of the Hertfordshire County Council HertsLynx on-demand service and its digitised Dial-a-Ride service demonstrates the impact that accessible public transport can have on the quality of life of people in rural areas.

In a recent webinar, hosted in partnership with Landor Links, Alice Missler, DRT/Community Transport Team Leader at HCC, and James West, UK Business Development Manager at Padam Mobility, talked about what sets the HertsLynx service part and what makes it successful. There was great interest in the webinar and the limited time available made it almost impossible to answer all the participants’ questions. The following Q&A answers some of the most frequently asked questions. We are of course also available for a personal discussion if you are interested in our services. Please contact Jack Holland ( or James West (

Q&A from the Padam Mobility Webinar, 10 May 2023, presented by Landor Links and hosted by Matthew Clark, Steer:

Alice Missler, Matthew Clark and James West discussing “Accessing rural bus services – How can we ensure equity?”
The HertsLynx DDRT service
  • Can the current HertsLynx fare allow the service to operate commercially rather than having to be funded?
    • Ticket revenue alone is currently not sufficient to make the HertsLynx service economically viable. The ultimate goal is to reach people without access to a functioning public transport service. The HertsLynx service will continue to rely on funding in the future, but efforts are already underway to make the service more efficient by, for example, combining the DRT with school trips and other use cases.
  • How have you promoted the service (to different target groups)?
    • By increasing accessibility and creating awareness. For example, the service hours were extended at weekends. The HertsLynx evening service runs on Friday and Saturday from 20:00 to 23:30 in the regular HertsLynx area and gives young people, in particular, more freedom in their leisure activities.
  • Is there still an impact of the pandemic on user numbers?
    • The HertsLynx service was launched at the height of the covid19 pandemic, which was reflected in the user numbers at launch. Today, the impact post-pandemic on passenger numbers is hardly noticeable. Passenger numbers have increased significantly since the service was introduced.
  • Has the £2 cap attracted new bus users or only helped existing ones?
    • We have seen a slight increase in ridership, although this cannot necessarily be traced back to the £2 cap. However, making public transport affordable for all is certainly important and impacts how people perceive public transport.
  • How can users pay for a ticket?
    • HertsLynx is a cashless service. When registering in the app, users need to provide their debit/credit card details so that rides can be charged to that card. There is also the option to buy credits.
  • How will users be warned if there is a problem with the vehicle (e.g. a breakdown) and the trip cannot be carried out?
    • We can display current messages both on our website or via the app and inform users about timetable changes on time. We recommend allowing push notifications to receive the latest news directly.
  • How can older people who don’t have a smartphone book a ride with the service?
    • There are several ways to book a trip with the HertsLynx service. Users who do not want to book via the app can alternatively book a journey via phone or website.
  • Is there data (e.g. origin and destination) to show whether services are successfully targeting people with limited access to transport?
    • Yes, we collect movement data that shows at which stops in the service area users get on and off. As the service area was set up to provide non-served or underserved places with a reliable public transport service, we can assess where the service is successfully fulfilling this task. This data analysis is very important to guarantee that the service is deployed in a way that meets the HCC’s objective.

      Area before the introduction of the DDRT and graphic of the HertsLynx service area: It can be clearly seen that the service area serves the previously free area (no public transport stops).
DRT provided by Padam Mobility
  • How does the interchange between DRT services and bus, coach or rail services work?
    • The existing public transport network is of great importance when setting up a DRT service. It is possible, for example, to integrate the regional train timetable into the on-demand platform and create services that are subject to certain time constraints.
  • Who receives the data generated by the service?
    • Padam Mobility’s customers get all the data collected about a service and have sovereignty over the use of the data.
  • What is the difference in booking when offering a service from “point to point” rather than “door to door”?
    • In the case of a door-to-door booking, users can specify their home as a pick-up or drop-off point and be transported from there to a desired point. This configuration is particularly used for paratransit trips to facilitate access to mobility for users with reduced mobility. When booking stop-to-stop or point-to-point, users choose fixed or virtual stops in their proximity from where they want to start or end their trip. Virtual stops are usually set up close together so that users have short walks. They are not physically visible or are usually marked with a small sign or similar. Services running between virtual stops are usually faster as they deviate less from their routes to pick up passengers.
  • How high are the staffing requirements for DRT services compared to scheduled bus services? Considering the shortage of qualified bus drivers, higher staffing requirements could be an obstacle to the introduction of a DRT system.
    • DRT services reduce driver requirements and improve recruitment. DRT services often have a smaller fleet of vehicles than fixed-route buses so fewer drivers are needed to cover the area. In addition, DRT fleets consist of minibuses with about 6 to 16 seats. With the common driving licence class B, it is possible to operate a minibus with up to eight seats.


Learn more about the webinar (article)

Rewatch the webinar (YouTube link) 

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Why does Transport Consulting matter? – A conversation with mobility engineer and transport consultant Xuefei Wang

Business values
Xuefei Wang, Team Lead Transport Consulting at Padam Mobility
Xuefei Wang, Team Lead Transport Consulting at Padam Mobility

There is no one-fits-all solution for DRT services. The introduction of new mobility systems in a specific area requires a great deal of expertise and precise analysis to ensure that services are successful, i.e. that they meet customer and user needs in the best possible way. Transport consulting is therefore a key area for Padam Mobility. In-house mobility consultants and engineers help customers develop the on-demand service that can best solve their existing public transport problems.

One of these mobility experts is Xuefei Wang. Xuefei has been working at Padam Mobility for four years, starting as Customer Success Manager. His intensive experience in multiple areas of the company makes him one of the most experienced mobility consultants at Padam today. In the interview, he told us more about his passion for transport consulting. We also talked about which steps are necessary to be able to create the perfect service design. Among other things, we touched on the importance of data and the courage to innovate.

How did you come to Padam Mobility and what is your job like today?

I have been working at Padam for over 4 years now. I started as an intern in the Customer Success Team and then worked as a Customer Success Manager for about 2 years. 2 years ago we founded the Transport Consulting Team, I was in the founding team and for about a year now and I have been leading this team”.

What is your professional or academic background?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from one of the leading universities in China, Tsinghua University. After that, I started working in a young tech start-up in the field of logistics/mobile applications in China. I was one of the founding members and the Director of Operations from 2016 to 2018. Later in 2018, I came to France and spent a year at École des Ponts ParisTech doing a Master’s in Transport and Sustainable Development”.

What do you understand by ‘Transport Consulting’ in your current function? What services does Padam Mobility offer in this context?

At Padam Mobility, it is very important to us to answer our customers’ needs in the best possible way. That is why we established the Transport Consulting Team. At that time, we particularly noticed how much customers and potential customers need advice from experts in the field of on-demand transport in order to make the right decisions. Although they are interested in on-demand services, they lack the necessary expertise to set up such services. For example, they don’t know how many vehicles they will need, how much the service will cost, etc. So they need help and advice to set everything up. Over the years we have gathered an enormous amount of knowledge and data about on-demand transport services, this data is probably one of the most important assets of this company today. We can help our customers solve their problems and make decisions, save money, and simultaneously offer a high-quality public mobility service.

My previous role as Customer Success Manager prepared me perfectly for this position. Customer Success Managers work closely with the customer, especially in the phase between the procurement decision and the launch of the service. It is essential to understand exactly what the customer needs and how the software can meet those needs. However, through my studies, I gained further knowledge, not only in using the Padam software but also in transport engineering, which helps me support customers with very complex and complicated problems”.

What are the different steps that comprise a transport consultancy? How do you approach a new client’s project?

I compare the work of our team to the work of a doctor. We have patients and we have to find out what they are missing and how we can help them. We start by making what is called a “territorial diagnosis” which begins with general questions such as what problem does the client want to solve? Why do they want to set up an on-demand transport service? For example, do the client have fixed, costly bus routes or want to expand public transport services? We can derive what the later solution can look like based on the needs.

Then we need certain demographic data, for example where do people live, where do they work, where do they recreate, what is the age structure, etc. and geographical information, such as what does the area look like, and what are the special features? We also ask about political and economic structures. All this information can influence our recommendations. There are different ways to get information: In Europe, there are often openly accessible data that are freely provided by public institutions, for example. We also ask our clients for data, sometimes they have already conducted user surveys on mobility or they have operational data from the existing transport offer. After analysing all this data, it is possible for us to understand how people move in certain areas.

In some cases, we can already make recommendations for the future on-demand service design after the diagnosis. This is partly because we already have a lot of experience with this process and are able to say which configurations are suitable for a certain type of territory. Sometimes, however, we have to dig deeper, for example, if the client wants more info or if the territory is very large or particular. In this case, we have the possibility to create simulations. Besides territorial diagnostics, this is the second service our team offers to clients. For this, we have a specially developed tool called “Padam Simulations”, which uses the same algorithms as our on-demand solution. It allows us to see exactly how our software reacts in certain situations. We usually simulate one day, which means we create a set of vehicles that have to serve realistic customer flows at certain times. Once we have created these parameters, we start the simulation. By doing this, we can see how the service would perform under real conditions. For example, if we see in the later evaluation that trips were rejected at certain times, it is possible that not enough vehicles were deployed”.

That means you also focus on worst case scenarios?

We usually create many different scenarios and also change the service design. There can be thousands of possible scenarios, so we discuss in advance with the client which specific scenarios to run.

The good thing about “Padam Simulations” is the qualitative results. We can see how many vehicles are needed at what time and with how many seats, what the service design should look like, i.e. free-floating, feeder, virtual line and so on. With this information, we can make very precise proposals.

Do you also pay attention to whether there are existing fixed bus routes or other means of public transport and how they might influence the performance of the DRT?

Exactly, these considerations are already taken into account in the territorial diagnosis, which is what the simulation is based on, so the existing public transport network is always taken into account”.

What happens if you can’t collect enough data before the simulation?

It is actually particularly difficult to predict how many people might use the service. If there is absolutely no historical data for this, we have to model the demand. This is where our experience from other projects and the skills that we bring as transport engineers help us enormously”.

Are there other services besides territorial diagnostics and simulation that you and your team offer to clients?

So far, what we have been talking about is the Feasibility Study, which includes territorial diagnostics, simulations and finally service design proposals. That is a big part of what we offer as a Transport Consulting Team. The other part of our services we call “Professional Services”. We offer these services to existing clients. They consist of the performance analysis of the service. Here we analyse the data of the service and try to further improve certain KPIs, such as pooling rate, customer satisfaction, etc. We also provide certain tools that help the client to monitor and understand their service in the best possible way”.

What is your experience with setting up virtual stops?

Virtual stops can be set up, for example, if the customer wants to offer users of on-demand services a narrow network of stops in order to keep the walking distance as short as possible. These stops can be made visible with a dot in the app, for example. I see virtual stops critically, as it can be difficult for users to orient themselves if they do not find a physical stop. Some of our clients solve this dilemma with a compromise and, for example, place small signs or stickers at the respective locations”.

Do you have any tips for transport authorities or other public mobility service providers on how to successfully introduce a DRT service?

On-demand transport works differently from traditional public passenger transport, but we see time and again that customers equate DRT with virtual lines, i.e. a service that follows a fixed line configuration. There is some fear of moving away from this and onto a different model, such as zonal on-demand transport. Although we have already seen that dividing the service area into smaller zones can achieve good results, clients are often sceptical at first. Therefore, I think mobility designers should think more innovatively in this regard.

Marketing also plays an important role. Users often do not know at the beginning what DRT is and how they can use it. So user communication plays an important role. We can see very well at the beginning of a new service the effect of marketing measures. If users feel well-informed, trip numbers usually increase rapidly. By the way, if clients need support on this point, they also have the opportunity to be advised by our marketing team at Padam Mobility. We can give tips on how to communicate the function of on-demand services and how best to reach customers.

Another important topic is introducing customers to digitalisation. We have a client who already had an on-demand service, however, all bookings were done through a call centre, which was costly and not very practical. So the client was looking to encourage users to make more bookings through the app. Consequently, the client instructed the call centre staff to ask users if they knew about the app booking option every time they received a call. As a result, the number of call centre bookings dropped from 100% to about 60% in only a few weeks”.

What other tips can you give clients to reduce costs?

There are several examples of customers who have managed to reduce the cost of their on-demand service. For example, by combining different services that were used for different user groups, such as transport for schoolchildren, transport for people with reduced mobility and users without special needs. This way, vehicles are better utilised and resources are saved.

It is also possible to start off services as pilot projects in order to minimise the risk of failure. We also advise starting with small zones and fewer vehicles and then gradually increasing the service area and fleet. Adding new areas on a platform is much easier than fundamentally rebuilding the service”.

What future projects are in the pipeline? Can we advise customers on on-demand AV services, for example?

Certainly. We have a dedicated AV team at Padam and also some live services. So we are already in a position to advise clients on the implementation of on-demand AV services”.

Thank you for your time, Xuefei!


This article might also interest you: AV in public road transport – A cutting-edge technology

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Driver shortage: Why Transport on Demand can improve the situation

The lack of workforce in public transport is a structural and widespread problem. Demand-responsive transport (DRT), which makes it possible to employ drivers who “only” have a class B driving licence, could improve the situation in the long term.

Long hours and low wages – bus driving seems to be becoming increasingly unattractive in many regions of Europe, including the UK. According to a study published by the BBC at the end of 2022, one in 10 jobs is vacant. The shortage of available bus drivers leads to services being cancelled, which in turn fuels concerns that public transport is unreliable. Yet a well-functioning public transport system and a healthy demand for it are important to guarantee optimal freedom of movement for people who, for various reasons, cannot be autonomously mobile. So how can we break the vicious circle and make public transport attractive for both drivers and passengers?

Demand-responsive transport (DRT) is an opportunity for public policy makers to address labour shortages in the public transport sector. At the same time, it offers conveniences for drivers and operators that traditional services often do not have:

  • Minibuses used in on-demand transports are often up to 9 seats and can be driven with a standard class B driving license. Not only is this a way for entry-level drivers to get a job more easily, but it also allows operators to recruit and train new staff more quickly.
  • The vehicles are more compact, easier to drive and manoeuvre.
  • According to our customers’ experiences, the pleasant working conditions of the drivers and the often personal relationship with the passengers contribute to a very good working atmosphere.

For me, [the job] is a way to make genuine contact with the passengers. Some of the passengers even tell us a bit about their lives. A teenage girl I drive every day told me that thanks to the service, custody is now better shared between her parents”.

Mylène, 48, driver of one of the Transdev Darche-Gros buses used for the on-demand service IDFM

Adriano, driver of the TCL on-demand service in Lyon

The drivers are friendly, which is great. You can talk to them, which is not that easy on a bus and not at all on a tram. It’s nice to exchange stories and it makes the journey shorter […] Over time, you get to know the drivers. Last year, when a driver left, we said goodbye warmly”.

A user of the Resa’Tao service in Orléans.

We have a lot of regular users, which means that we build up a certain bond with the customers. We always greet each other in a friendly way and we are also on a first-name basis. This creates a really warm atmosphere”.

Adriano, driver of the TCL on-demand service in Lyon

Because they drive fully occupied minibuses instead of large empty buses, the drivers feel more valued in their profession.

On-demand transport does not threaten existing regular public transport. On the contrary, it’s a service that really helps people get around in their daily lives”.

Nicolas, mid-30s, driver of one of the Transdev Darche-Gros buses used for the on-demand service IDFM

How can public transport be transformed to become more attractive for passengers and riders?

Whilst there is an urgent need for viable alternatives to the private car – both in cities and rural areas – social and economic trends are making it difficult to create a public transport offer that genuinely meets people’s mobility needs.

Home working has reduced passenger levels, particularly during the traditional peak hours. The economic impact of this means that bus services have been cut and the ambitions, set out in the National Bus Strategy “Bus Back Better”, to create more accessible, reliable and well-timed bus services are being undermined.

On-demand transport can also provide relevant answers to these problems. Flexible management makes it possible to offer journeys that are tailored to the needs of passengers: 35% of users of our on-demand transport services previously travelled by car¹, and as many as 10% of passengers have completely parted with their car since using the on-demand service¹.

The high level of customer satisfaction and usage of on-demand services shows that public transport can be attractive. Guaranteed rides, comfortable transport, and short distances to the next stop, all these attributes are highly appreciated by the customers of the on-demand services powered by Padam Mobility. And this appreciation is also felt by the drivers.

Besides financial incentives, the profession must also be more enjoyable and less stressful to perform. Well-planned and fairly scheduled on-demand services can achieve this and make the job of a public transport driver more desirable.


₁.Study conducted by Padam Mobility customers, including in Strasbourg on the Flex’hop service


This article might also interest you: On-Demand-Mobility: The Evolution of Local Public Transport 

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Padam Mobility Masterclass Series – #3 Scaling DRT – Using a flexible demand platform and a flexible vehicle supply model to grow patronage efficiently

Landor Links #3 Title

This Masterclass, on scaling, was the third in a three-part series of expert discussions covering the details of successful implementation of Demand Responsive Transport systems. The Padam Mobility Masterclass series was run in cooperation with Landor Links.

In the final edition, Asiya Jelani, Account Director at TRL and Women in Transport Board Member spoke with Daniel Mould, Managing Director at WeDRT and Jack

Landor Links #3

 Holland, Head of Business Development at Padam Mobility about how DRT services can be effectively introduced and scaled to achieve optimal coverage and economic viability.

What is scaling?

Scaling is essentially matching the number of vehicles to demand efficiently, as your DRT service grows. It’s possible to predict that services will grow from the outset with modelling. However, Jack Holland explained that it can also be planned once a service is in operation:

Scaling is not a gut feeling decision, but is carefully planned and decided during the run phase of a DRT service based on specific KPIs. This might relate to user numbers or pooling rates (the number of passengers on the bus at the same time) in a particular area, for example. If the available vehicles are constantly at capacity, this may be an indication that demand is not being served well enough and that potential users are unable to find a free vehicle at their desired time. These observations provide initial indications that an on-demand service needs to be adapted.”

As DRT can be configured to fit into local transport networks, it can be used to grow the overall ridership. Jack Holland again:

Efficient scaling depends primarily on the local conditions in which a DRT service operates. A service is only optimally used if it fits seamlessly into the structural transport network, i.e. if it brings passengers to major public transport hubs. In this context, the procurement of the DRT software plays a crucial role. On-demand services, which act as a complement to the scheduled network, can be configured in such a way that users are pointed to scheduled transport options in the app at certain times rather than booking a DRT vehicle for the desired trip.”

The ability to flex the fleet is also key. The WeDRT platform enables services to access properly registered and accredited fleet when services need more vehicles to meet demand. This is also useful when piloting the service or to test the market for additional areas or times of day when building ridership.

What about financing?

The expansion of transport services is generally assumed to imply an increase in costs, which means financing is a key concern. How can it be possible for an on-demand service to be economically viable? For Jack, this question needs to be tackled more holistically:

We live in a deregulated mindset but we need to look holistically at where we spend money on transport and how we can cross-subsidise different modes so that the overall cost is reduced for the local authority. That is how you make DRT viable in the UK. It is looking at these different subsidy pots, be it home to school, be it dial-a-ride, even be it corporate shuttles and how you can blend these different models.” 

However, regardless of external funding measures, it can also be possible to deploy a transport service in a way that is both demand-responsive and resource-efficient

Dan Mould:

Technical possibilities, such as well-deployed DRT software, help transport companies to use their fleet much more effectively. Intelligent pooling allows for better utilisation of vehicles, which means that in many cases the total fleet can be significantly reduced, which in turn saves costs.”

Jack added:

While it is currently almost impossible to offer a profitable on-demand service, it is certainly possible to set the parameters in a way that lowers expenses. At around 8 passengers per hour, a DRT service is considered economically viable. When demand is low, however, it is conceivable to reduce resources or, even better, to reallocate them to other use cases in order to relieve the cost to the public purse, e.g. for ambulance transport, school transport or company shuttles.”

Scaling – the right pace

Predicting the vehicle requirement for DRT can be very challenging. It is not easy to assess from the outset whether or not a service area should be expanded or more vehicles deployed. Making the wrong decision can have a negative impact on performance. On the one hand, having too many vehicles or a too extensive service area can generate enormous costs; on the other hand, under-provision of DRT services can lead to disappointment on the part of users. A flexible supply base is one solution.

Dan Mould: 

What we have seen in the market, and where the opportunities lie to make this more efficient, is flexible supply. If you have a core of your minimum supply base, for example, three minibuses, then you can flexibly mobilise the fourth minibus, which you may not be certain to use, through the WeDRT system.”

This ability is a real asset for on-demand service operators because both an underused fleet and an unfulfillable demand will eventually damage the service

Determining the fleet size and other parameters as accurately as possible – for example during the initial test phase – comes down to the right model design and analysis of the area. Jack Holland explains:

It is crucial to study the exact needs and circumstances of a particular region and then deploy a DRT service where it best complements, not competes with, the existing infrastructure. Scaling can mean starting in a very small area and introducing, for example, an initial feeder service to the main railway station. If this service proves successful, further stops can be added or new use cases identified.”

DRT services in France and the UK – A fair comparison?

Padam Mobility’s DRT service in the area surrounding Paris – TAD IDFM – is a very successful example of scaling. The service has been gradually extended to cover 40 service areas to date. It coordinates 8 different transport operators on a single platform, which simplifies travel for people living in Paris suburbs.

Whilst transport policies and the funding frameworks in the UK and France are very different, what we can learn is that people living in areas underserved by public transport will respond positively when they are connected to the public transport network using DRT.

Scaling – what are the take-aways?

The ability to scale a service is another very important success factor for a functioning DRT service. So what are the most important insights our experts would like to share?

Jack Holland:

Start small, have clear KPIs in place. If the KPIs are achieved look for growth, if the KPIs aren’t achieved look for something else. So, have a clear plan of where you launch, what your KPIs are, in terms of patronage, in terms of revenue, in terms of passenger experience. Use them as your basis and then look to expand from there and scale.”

Dan Mould:

You will never be able to simulate exactly what the demand or the optimal supply should be. You just want to have that foundation in the early stages to be able to scale efficiently. You need to have the set-up you need to react to data that comes in.”

The masterclass onScaling is the third and final webinar in the current series, run by  Padam Mobility and Landor Links. The other events in this series covered the topicsData Analysis of DRT Services and Integrated Ticketing. Click on the respective topics to access the corresponding YouTube video. You can find the corresponding articles under these links:

#1 A smart ticket to ride – Ask the experts! 

#2 Using Data Science to increase the success of your DRT scheme 

On-demand mobility can be a very important component in providing an effective, user-friendly public transport system. We believe that it’s important to share our experience of the implementation of DRT services with public transport authorities and operators and show how on-demand services could play an important role in BSIPs. We’re always happy to talk about how DRT can improve your bus network. Just contact Jack Holland or David Carnero directly.

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Padam Mobility Masterclass series – #2 Using data science to increase the success of your DRT scheme

Padam Mobility and Prospective Labs, in collaboration with Landor Links, present the second edition of the Quality Bus Masterclass Series. 

Kate Gifford, Head of Future Mobility at West Yorkshire Combined Authority, led the hour-long discussion of Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) and Data which featured Pete Ferguson, CEO and Co-Founder of Prospective Labs, and David Carnero, Head of International Business Development and Partnerships at Padam Mobility.

The webinar took questions from participants and discussed the role of data in setting up and shaping DRT services.

What data sets will I need for a feasibility study (and if this involves bus data,
how do I reassure the operator that supplying the data won’t have an adverse impact
on their existing business)?”

The Prospective Labs approach to data is about understanding the potential role of DRT within the transport network – and where it might have real competitive advantages over the private vehicle. 

Pete Ferguson:

We utilise a lot of the ticketing and timetabling data from the core public transport network and we combine that with essentially the core transport modelling activity that you may be aware of within your own local authorities that is looking at the propensity to travel under different conditions. How sensitive are local populations to changes in travel time, changes in costs and what will their behaviour be when you make that change.”

Another important source of data from which Prospective Labs draws information is the National Travel Survey, which provides about 100,000 responses annually, relating to different preferences depending on the mode of transport or reason for travel.

All this data is cross-referenced with the ‘supply side’, i.e. the structural, multi-modal public transport network across the UK.

There’s a core of national data sets that then can be combined with a rich representation of the actual underlying supply network”

This broad pool of data allows Prospective Labs to understand what would happen if any changes were made to public transport services in a particular region.

Because DRT can be configured in different ways, the impacts of different configurations can be checked. In some areas, it may make sense to maintain a fixed route structure that is then served ‘on-demand’, in other regions it may be more effective to operate in a free-floating model, and still others may benefit from the DRT service simply acting as a feeder or drop-off for central transport hubs.

David Carnero:

[It is about] understanding where the structural network is, what frequency it is running, what is the network coverage, etc. [From our side] we can implement the DRT in a way that it doesn’t compete with the structural transport network. […] We have a not-compete functionality in our platform, […] and so if somebody asks for a journey between point a and point b and that journey can be done by a fixed line bus then we will not accept the DRT journey and actually refer them to the specific timetable, to that bus line for example.” 

A good study will be able to reassure the existing operators that the DRT services will enhance the network rather than detract from it.

Data collection can be expensive and DRT schemes present financial challenges. How can the additional spend on data collection be justified?”

Collecting and evaluating relevant data, especially before an on-demand service is to be put into operation, contributes decisively to the success or failure of the new transport offer.

David Carnero:

The role of data from our perspective is really to de-risk a project, it can contribute to reducing costs, it can allow, for example, the right supply to be put in place at the right time. […] It takes away a lot of the surprises that can happen. […] We look at it as well as the base on which you build your  hypothesis at the beginning if there isn’t a previous DRT service and then you have something really concrete that you can measure against.”

Pete Ferguson adds that it’s more about the cost of not collecting and analysing data:

A few weeks of paying for drivers and vehicles for a poorly set up service is ultimately much more costly than upfront planning and data analysis. A possible later readjustment, in the case of a poorly running service, would therefore be more fatal than the investment in a thorough implementation process could possibly be.”

It’s crucial to use data expertise in decision-making, assessing the characteristics of a region and the behaviour of (future) service users and provide advice on the likelihood of success for each potential type of service.

We can look at concepts like the ‘consumer surplus’ which is useful for gauging what additional services or destinations that people can access with this additional connectivity. It’s good for both looking in the increase of the value to passengers, but also can be used to ensure minimal impacts if we’re trying to cut costs. Essentially you consider the least reduction in consumer surplus for each cost-cutting scenario”.

Padam Mobility partners with Prospective Labs because: “We have recognised that the need for data analysis of mobility behaviour in certain regions is very high for public authorities, but for various reasons often cannot be carried out independently”, says David Carnero.

In the event that DRT metrics show a decline in performance, what mechanisms can be used to identify problems early and trigger mitigating action?

Initially, Prospective Labs works to develop reliable scenarios that are very close to real-world scenarios, so that there’s a model to predict how well the DRT will be used which can be validated against the real world. So the first thing is to establish how well this process is working and use the model to predict how adjustments might be implemented.

In addition, long-term analysis of data from the platform is important, explains David Carnero:

We analyse the supply, we analyse how people are searching within our digital products and, for example, if there are lots of searches that aren’t what we call it ‘converted’ we then look to understand what’s happing. Things like where are the origins, where are the destinations? Do we need to extend the zone?” 

Using this approach, the service can be adjusted to provide the best and most cost-effective solution for the area, passengers and the operator.

If you’d like to hear more questions about DRT and data answered, the masterclass on DRT and data is available in full length on YouTube.

What hurdles do decision-makers and mobility managers see in the introduction of an on-demand service?

Word Cloud

According to the audience, concerns about unmanageable costs or unmanageable risk seem to be particular obstacles to setting up DRT in certain regions. This is a dilemma because if DRT services are rejected outright, best practices cannot be developed, which can slow down the overall evolution of new transport services.

What comes next?

Assuming the planning of a DRT service has been successful and the service has been running for some time, how should data continue to be used to improve the service or even identify and fix problems?

The next Masterclass will be about this very topic: Scaling DRT – Using a flexible demand platform and a flexible vehicle supply model to grow patronage efficiently. 

This third and final masterclass by Padam Mobility will explore the levers and measures that are available to efficiently operate on-demand bus schemes.

Dan Mould, Managing Director Of Coachscanner will be outlining his unique supply-side platform (We-DRT) for operating DRT using a mixture of permanent and flexible bus suppliers. This will include learnings from operating TfWM West Midlands On-Demand Service.

Jack Holland, Head of Business Development in the UK for Padam Mobility will be sharing his experience of managing and growing DDRT services over the past 4 years. He will go through how to make full use of DRT software including the levers for marketing and price elasticity.

This next Masterclass will take place on 10 March at 10:30 GMT. You can register for this event by clicking on this link. As usual, you are also welcome to send us your questions!


About the Quality Bus Masterclasses in association with Landor Links

The Masterclass series was created primarily to help decision-makers understand how DRT can be incorporated into an Enhanced Partnership Programme between transport operators and public transport authorities in the most risk-free way possible.

You can also watch the video of our first Masterclass at this link. Here David Carnero together with Matt Smallwood and Antonio Carmona talked about the topic “Integrated Ticketing”.



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Padam Mobility Masterclass series – #1 A smart ticket to ride: Ask the experts!

Landor Links

Ticketer and Padam Mobility, together with Landor Links, have kicked off the three-part masterclass series to share current thinking about the potential for Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) in Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) across the UK. 

The three-part masterclass series was launched mid-January by Padam Mobility in partnership with Landor Links. The aim of each of the engaging one-hour discussions is to draw out expertise on the integration of DRT into a  user-friendly, effective public transport service. 

In the first Masterclass, Antonio Carmona, General Manager International and Head of UK Sales at Ticketer, and David Carnero, Head of International Business Development and Partnerships at Padam Mobility, together with chair Matt Smallwood, Head of Digital Strategy, Transport for the North, talked about why – and how –  transport operators and public transport authorities should tackle the core problem of integrated ticketing. Below is a small excerpt of the questions and topics discussed during the webinar. The full video can be found on YouTube.  

Integrated Ticketing is key, is one of the main areas that you need to work on to remove those barriers to access the system.” Antonio Carmona

From the start, Antonio Carmona stressed the importance of a seamless payment and ticketing system to encourage people to switch to public transport. Combine with other measures – such as proximity of services, on-demand rides and pricing – it is essential for creating public transport that is more attractive and more used than private cars.

But how can public transport authorities and operators be convinced that an on-demand service can enrich the public mobility offer in a given region? 

It’s important to see DRT as a service improvement, according to David Carnero, rather than viewing it primarily as a profit-making business model. The overriding goal of on-demand transport is perfect integration into the existing infrastructure rather than competing with it – even if there are DRT services that are significantly more lucrative than maintaining fixed bus routes. DRT then has the potential to serve, for example, the first and last mile between the homes and larger transport hubs. People are thus offered a real alternative to their own car, without the DRT service competing with, but rather complementing, the existing public transport network. 

It’s about not competing with structural – fixed-line – transport, it’s about ‘adding to’ or giving more flexibility to the structural transport. To do this it has to have simple fares and integrated ticketing.” David Carnero 

Data sharing is an obstacle to an integrated ticketing system 

It’s clear that seamless travel – without tedious questions like “Which ticket do I need for which mode of transport?” or “Where can I buy my next ticket?” – is desirable. But why is it that the public transport offer in the UK resembles more of a patchwork quilt, and trips from A to B in many cases require more than just a single ticket? 

Antonio believes that there needs to be more confidence among operators to participate in a common system: 

In every beginning of integration processes you will see challenges about sharing data but in the end, once you have proven to the different operators that there is a benefit to them in participating in the system and sharing some data that is relevant, then those frictions will probably disappear. It is not a technical problem, lots of data is available. [The challenges are] more related to the agreements that are in place.”  Antonio Carmona 

One ticket – many payment options?

Transport-on-demand services are currently exceptional in most regions of the UK. People may have become accustomed to a neighbourhood service that they order over the phone. However, the technical booking options via app or website tend to deter older users in particular. Similarly, when it comes to the question of payment options. There are people who refuse to pay via an app or prepay card and prefer to pay in cash directly in the vehicle. Are these users going to be excluded from the ‘new’ transport services sooner or later? 

The simple answer is ‘no’. DRT services, as offered by Padam Mobility, are public services and do not exclude any user group. Providers need to ensure that people can use the service in the easiest way for them, for example, by ensuring that cash payment remains possible on board in addition to the booking option by telephone or online. Only then can it be guaranteed that the services remain inclusive.

How can the step towards more ‘on-demand’ succeed? 

One aspect, in particular, becomes clear during the discussion: the answers are there, DRT as a real enrichment of a region’s mobility offer does not have to remain a pipe dream, but can be successfully established with a well-thought-out approach.   

Nevertheless, at the moment, just before the launch of the Enhanced Partnerships within the Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIP), many public transport authorities and operators are faced with the major challenge of taking the first step. A reasonable, feasible plan has to be worked out to have a chance of securing some of the public funds. 

To have the best chance of success, careful data analysis and simulations before the actual service goes live is key to tailoring a DRT service for a specific area. There is not a standard service model for every region. In this context, David emphasises that Padam Mobility’s focus is on areas away from the big cities which need careful analysis.

Careful testing and data analysis will determine the best approach to serve a rural or suburban area. Where areas are unlikely to be profitable it’s important to provide a carefully designed service that supports the network and other fixed-line services. 

The next webinar will look at the topic of DRT and Data with Landor Links on 10 February 2022 at 10:30 am (UTC). You will find the link to the registration form further down in this article. 

A question of trust 

Can people who have become accustomed to a timetable just “change” like that? Certainly, the question of how to bring users along on the path to more flexible, demand-responsive transport should not be underestimated. Humans are creatures of habit. If the service does not work as intended or as they are used to, there is a risk that people will turn away and reject it. Gaining the trust of end-users may require introducing services in parallel, and will rely on full transparency, for example by guaranteeing real-time tracking of the journey or by providing users with push notifications on their mobile phones in case of delays and other problems. 

I think [the bottom line is] that the technology and the systems around that are a real key enabler for that integration piece, for that customer journey, and for I think [the issue of communication with users].” Matt Smallwood 

It certainly takes time to make new mobility services attractive to a broad population. Reliable support and transparent communication with operators and end-users will add to the eventual success of DRT.

Watch the entire masterclass with Matt Smallwood, Antonio Carmona and David Carnero on YouTube

We would also be very happy to welcome you on 10 February at 10:30 am (UTC). Then we’ll be covering in detail how the right data analysis contributes to a successful implementation of an on-demand service. Click here to register. You are also welcome to send us your questions in advance (use the dedicated text field in the registration form).


Find out more about Padam Mobility 

This article might interest you as well: Ticketer and Padam Mobility announce partnership to further develop the Demand-Responsive Transport landscape in the UK 

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Interview with Romain Roy, Vice-President of the Orléans Métropole

Romain Roy

On the occasion of the expansion of the Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) service Résa’Tao in Orléans, Padam Mobility spoke to Romain Roy, Vice-President of Orléans Métropole and in charge of transport and traffic.

The main function of the on-demand service is to bring residents to the existing public transport services”.

PADAM MOBILITY (PM): How would you describe the DRT service in Orléans Métropole?

Our DRT is a modern and innovative service that Orléans developed as of 2018 and expanded in 2019 within a pilot area. It is a service linked to a software suite that has made it possible to connect 100% of the metropolitan population to structured public transport. Users can book the service a month in advance or 5 minutes before departure via a mobile app, website or toll-free phone number. A ticket is no more expensive than a traditional bus ticket, although the user can travel directly from point to point in the defined area of Orléans Métropole.

PM: How does the DRT service complement the transport offer nowadays?

RR: The DRT not only complements it but gives every resident access to a public transport service. I don’t know of any network in France or the world that has managed to cover 100% of an area with traditional transport services. There are still isolated people who live far from a bus stop. The on-demand service can, therefore, also pick up people living far away from the Orléans city centre. However, this is not the only benefit of the DRT! It also allows people to move from point to point within the suburbs as more and more new lines are being created.

PM: What kind of users or purposes are served by Demand-Responsive Transport?

RR: Truly all of them! We don’t exclude anyone. We pick up schoolchildren in the morning, pensioners in the afternoon, people with reduced mobility, professionals, people who use the service sporadically, people without a car, etc. We connect all users with a service that is demand-oriented and close to the customer.

PM: What are the concrete advantages of this DRT service?

RR: The obvious benefit is that users are connected and that the service does not exclude any user. Mobility means demand-responsive transport, it means walking, cycling, park-and-ride, tram, bus, but first and foremost you need access to these transport options. And the primary service that DRT provides is to get residents to the structuring public transport network. Next, there is the temporal scope of the service: from 6 am to 9 pm, 7 days a week. Last but not least, it is a customer-oriented service. You no longer have to wait 30 minutes for your bus; if you book in advance, you can literally get your bus right in front of your door. For the time being, however, the service is only available from point to point, not yet from address to address. It is a local transport service at an ultra-competitive cost, shared but no more expensive than traditional public transport. 

We feel that we are better investing taxpayers’ money, especially since  the strategy of Orléans Métropole is not to gain economic advantages but to provide a better service”.

PM: How has technology helped you realise this vision?

RR: We started a trial area in 2018-2019 with 4-5 vehicles on a smaller operational area and a more limited time frame. This test showed us that users were satisfied and that demand was increasing. In 2019, based on the good test results, we decided, together with Keolis and Padam Mobility, to continue the experiment and expanded the test area to 9 test areas with 12-14 vehicles each with different time frames and different focus groups. Based on these two test trials and our conviction that Transport-on-Demand will be the mobility of tomorrow, we decided to expand the service to 4 large, newly designed zones from 3 January [2022], served by a total of 40 vehicles 7 days a week.

PM: Can you say something about economic rationality and what the technology can do for the community in terms of cost?

RR: Based on the 2019-2020 figures provided to us by our contractor [Keolis Métropole Orléans], the economic balance that the metropolis is aiming for is close to zero. Of the 11.6 million km purchased from our contractor, we have transferred almost 600,000 km to on-demand transport. 1 km with a traditional large bus, which also often runs without passengers, costs between 3 and 4 euros. 1 km with a smaller shuttle bus, which is rarely empty as it comes on demand and can be shared, is cheaper. The equation is balanced because we enable a customer-oriented and flexible service for the user. We feel that we are better investing taxpayers’ money, especially since the strategy of Orléans Métropole is not to gain economic advantages but to provide a better service.

PM: How did Padam Mobility accompany you to enable such an efficient service?

RR: Co-creation, exchange, many discussions, dialogues and tackling challenges, because there is a common interest between the metropolis, the contractor [Keolis Métropole Orléans] and Padam Mobility, which we achieve through professionalism, growth and innovation. We are proud to have been among the first to put our trust in you. We are also happy to see that our achievements and the result have been transferred to different areas. We are convinced that it was right to trust you and to reinforce the offer. Other factors were also taken into account: the mobility needs of the territory, the satisfaction and response of users, proximity, the safety aspect, etc.

PM: What are the environmental impacts of DRT? 

RR: Environmental awareness must be strengthened. We have taken lots of big buses out of service. Based on data and statistics, we have also cancelled lines that had hardly any more passengers. We have organised bus services in the metropolis according to school and holiday times as well as according to different times of the day. A large electric bus that doesn’t find its audience and runs empty will always be less environmentally friendly than several small shuttle buses that use hybrid or electric power and are operating at good capacity. Using the service is not only an economic but certainly an ecological gesture.

For us, the on-demand service is a tool to attract new users, in addition to connecting 100% of the users in the metropolis.”

PM: What are the goals of the Transport on Demand service in Orléans?

RR: We are in a growth phase where we are trying something new, but also measuring and controlling because we have a duty to provide quality services. That means we have to have a shuttle that is on time, that transports you safely and that connects you with other mobility services. If users give up their private cars, the bet is already won, both environmentally and socially. The goal is to shift more traditional bus kilometres to on-demand transport. Instead of having four big zones that are almost identical, we want to merge them and then, why not, think about on-demand night transport, which will certainly find its audience.

PM: To which strategy regarding the modal shift does Transport-on-Demand fit?

RR: The first strategy is to offer a service that we believe is truly relevant to our times. The fact that it is a responsive and intuitive local transport service allows passengers to easily understand it right from the start. If they want to get on an on-demand service and go from A to B, they can be sure that their transport is reliable. For us, the on-demand service is a tool to attract new users, in addition to connecting 100% of the users in the metropolis. It is really the extended arm of conventional public transport.

PM: Would you say that on-demand mobility brings new users to public transport?

RR: For sure, yes. Because on-demand transport appeals to everyone: the young generation, who are hyper-connected, and the other part of the population, who are less connected or live more isolated. Orléans Métropole has managed to maintain a toll-free number that allows people to stay directly connected during operating hours so they can book their transport. Thus, we also reassure people who are less tech-savvy. The fact that we provide multiple booking channels to connect people from their homes to a transport service will inevitably attract new audiences. We see this in the satisfaction rates. From pensioners who have a doctor’s appointment to young people who want a lift to school: We offer an innovative service that engages all segments of the population.


Learn more about Padam Mobility

This article might interest you as well: The Orléans metropolis expands its on-demand network Résa’Tao to four additional zones

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Discussion with Laurent Chevereau, “MaaS” research director at Cerema

MaaS - système d'information intermodale

In 2019, the Cerema (French Centre for Studies and Expertise on Risks, Environment, Mobility and Urban Planning) created the MaaS Observatory, which lists all the MaaS or intermodal systems initiatives on French territory on a single platform. The aim of this platform is to share knowledge about MaaS.

To explore further the issues of Mobility-as-a-Service, we wanted to share views with an expert on MaaS in France. Laurent Chevereau has been Director of “MaaS ” research project at Cerema for nearly three years.

What is Cerema’s approach to MaaS? 

Laurent Chevereau: As with many issues, Cerema has a vocation to provide knowledge. This is why we produce a lot of intelligence and good practices and why we launched the MaaS observatory, in partnership with national partners who bring together all the MaaS players. The idea is to facilitate sharing without necessarily comparing in order to avoid everyone reinventing their own model. Knowledge about MaaS must be a common resource.

For us, as for many local authorities, MaaS must be used to meet specific public policy objectives. In concrete terms, it is not necessarily easy to implement. At Cerema, we are trying to push the need for evaluation: some research has been done on the evaluation of the impacts of MaaS and there is not much, even at international level. In Europe, we see that the impacts are not necessarily positive. The example of MaaS Whim in Helsinki is quite eloquent because it develops the use of public transport but, on the other hand, the modal share of walking and cycling is reduced in favour of car hire.

What kind of advice do you provide for the deployment of MaaS solutions in rural or peri-urban areas?

L.C: To set up a MaaS project, you first have to prioritise the objectives that the territory wishes to address. This is very important, as well as the choice of the target audience, because I don’t think you can make a MaaS for everyone that meets all the objectives.

To sum up, the idea is to define one or two objectives, a main target and then the product: type, ergonomics, pricing policy and support.

In less densely populated areas, there is more of a need for exchange and acculturation to this type of tool, because very often, local authorities do not have as many skills in-house. The financial means are also lacking.

MaaS can have the power to bring together and connect different territories, including the most fragile. For this to happen, digital services must be developed to provide quality intermodal information. However, what are the other major challenges facing MaaS?

L.C: I think there is a major marketing challenge behind this. In large cities, everyone knows the name of the network, but in sparsely populated areas, people do not necessarily know who is in charge of transport and do not necessarily know the name of the network. It is not enough to develop an efficient digital service, it is also necessary to make it known and used, which is not easy in rural areas where digital use is less widespread. On regional intermodal system, we also see that usage is quite low compared to the cost of implementation.

Our publication supports a vision of a sustainable MaaS that should be closer to the territories in order to position itself as a catalyst for mobility offers, including for the most vulnerable populations. How can the development of intermodal logics benefit the territories? Is MaaS the right tool for this?

L.C: I think that we should first of all dissociate regular users from occasional users. In rural areas, alternative solutions to cars (DRT, carpooling, etc.) are going to be difficult to generalise in the short term for everyday journeys. In Saint-Etienne, the interface of the Moovizy application differs depending on whether the user is a regular or irregular user. The proposal of intermodal solutions can be a plus for these areas, but it is above all the multimodal aspect that is important for these areas. These tools can help to identify the right mode at the right time.

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is one of the main objectives of MaaS. Between noise and pollution, the car is often blamed, especially in city centres. Does the use of the car have a place in a MaaS system?

L.C: At Cerema, we defend the fact that each form of mobility has its rightful place in space and time. To put it simply, in the city, the car has its place especially at night, where there are no more relevant offers or for specific needs of accompaniment / voluminous shopping.

In sparsely populated areas, the car does not have the same negative externalities as in the city. In terms of climate, the impact is roughly the same, but in terms of inconvenience and congestion it is not comparable.

Thus, reducing car use must be an objective, but not necessarily the primary one in all types of territory. In less well-served areas, the primary objective is to enable everyone to have a mobility solution. This may involve solutions that may generate more emissions, but which are largely compensated by modal shifts in dense areas.

MaaS brings together a wide range of actors and raises the question of governance. Taking into consideration the social and environmental role of MaaS, what would be its ideal form of governance?  Who are the most appropriate actors to develop, control and integrate?

L.C: In general, even if private players offer solutions for a certain population, local authorities remain the most legitimate to develop a MaaS. In London, the PTA (Public Transport Administration) was recently obliged to propose a solution for PRMs itself.

Nevertheless, local authorities are looking for the best way to involve private actors, and several are thinking about new types of public-private partnerships.

Is the question of financing the most important issue for MaaS today?

I think so. Today, private players have not yet found a solid economic model, particularly because there is no standardisation yet, nor easy access to sales services.

For public MaaS, local authorities do indeed have financing difficulties. Nevertheless, some MaaS are beginning to emerge because technological solutions are beginning to be available at lower cost.

In other countries, there is more national funding to help deploy MaaS and federate the players.

Intermodality obviously raises the question of the integration of ticketing systems and I believe that this is something that you have studied in detail. Where do we stand today and what are the technical obstacles to the integration of the different operators’ ticketing systems?

Large urban and regional networks often have heavy card-based ticketing. This does not facilitate interoperability with other mobility solutions. However, in recent years, light ticketing based on a back-office has been increasingly developed, in which the support only has an identifier (QR code, M-ticket). On a regional scale, or in large cities, most MaaS will try to mix the two in order not to exclude large transport networks but still take advantage of the benefits of light ticketing, facilitating the integration of digital-based mobility services. In smaller cities, it is easier to base everything on light ticketing.

As part of the MaaS observatory, we have looked into the issue of carpooling and several solutions exist. In Nantes, for example, Klaxit uses the local transport network’s ticketing card: by entering the subscriber’s number on the application, an advantageous rate is offered.

The Dynamic DRT offer is often described as a MaaS enabler. What does the term MaaS enabler mean to you and what do you see as the role of on-demand transport in the MaaS product portfolio?

MaaS has a real vocation to integrate dynamic DRT in its product portfolio, there is a strong interest. However, I am a little surprised that the local authorities are not more involved. This is probably linked to the fact that the dynamic DRT tool is fairly recent

Cerema is a public institution dedicated to supporting public policies, under the dual supervision of the. French Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion and Relations with Local Authorities.

Cerema shares best practices and contributes to the implementation of accessible mobility policies and services adapted to the social and economic specificities of territories.


These articles might interest you:




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Crossed views on MaaS with Hacon


There is no better than our trusted sister company, Hacon, to talk about the topic of Mobility-as-a-Service. The company specialises in developing software solutions that connect different modes of transport into an intermodal travel chain. We interviewed Svenja Katharina Weiß, Marketing Manager and Thomas Wolf, COO of Hacon on their experiences and future visions of MaaS.   

As a leading provider of mobility apps, what experiences have you gained with Hacon so far in the development and implementation of MaaS apps?

Thomas Wolf (TW) : We have noticed that the app is the part of the solution that everyone sees and gets in touch with so it’s of course an important aspect of the overall solution. But actually, we talk a lot more about MaaS platforms than MaaS apps. Why? The app is of course the customer-facing part, and again it’s very important to make sure that there’s great usability, but the intelligence is more in the back office. Implementing a mass project is all about the back office: it’s about gathering the right data connecting with a huge number of mobility service providers  and of course to have a back-office system that helps people to make smart decisions. I would also emphasise that the key aspect of Mobility-as-a-Service is using the system to get access to smarter and faster options. A trip not found will not be booked: MaaS offers a whole new range of opportunities for the passengers and makes people explore their options quicker.

Svenja Katharina Weiß (SKW) : I’d like to add that not only different modes [of transport] but also different actions or processes have to be integrated. We like to call it “Plan, book, pay and travel with one app and one account”. MaaS has to accompany the user through the whole trip and everything that is associated with it. I believe that is the great potential of MaaS regarding intermodal travel that it fits the individual demands even better than single modes of transportation.

What is your motivation to advocate for a stronger MaaS approach and to further develop shared intermodal mobility?

TW: MaaS has become more popular over the past years. One reason for this is that the public and politicians aim to reduce carbon footprint. If you want to achieve this goal, there are all kinds of things you can do and need to do, but one thing people want you to do is to eventually abandon your own car. On the other hand, if you want to abandon your car, then the problem is you need mobility services for every aspect of your life. In that perspective, a car is quite hard to beat because it has been developed to fulfil all these different needs or pretty much all of them.

This is where MaaS comes in because instead of just either riding the train or the bus or bike or renting a car it should give you access to all of these mobility modes. For example, if you would need a car because you want to pick up building material which is going to be difficult by using a bus then you’re just going to use a car for this particular trip thanks to MaaS recommendations. In a nutshell, MaaS  must give people a true alternative to car ownership and that’s why I think it is an important topic these days.

It sounds like MaaS is also about creating a highly individualised travel experience. Is it already possible, for example when creating a user account, to set specific preferences on how somebody would like to travel? 

TW: Yes, we do offer personalisation. There exists already a variety of options a user can choose from, of course, they can also choose if they do or do not want to use bikes depending on their personal situation.  But I think when we talk about preferences in MaaS, an important aspect is people with reduced mobility. In this specific regard, we have lots of options we can offer as well as tools to manage the data. For example, when a wheelchair user arrives on a platform and wants to continue the trip, he or she needs to know if there is a functioning elevator and of course what to do if not. So we can actually route people around a problem. And even though that sounds like we are now talking about the details but in reality, if you are depending on a wheelchair – or have any other kind of disability – then you need to rely on the system, that is something that goes beyond a fancy app and nice-looking interfaces. We need to be able to provide a professional system that takes care of all those details. Especially when it comes to public transport, we have a high responsibility towards disabled people. And that is why I am bringing up that specific example because it goes above and beyond the luxury of preferences.   

SKW: I would like to emphasise the importance of data in order to enhance the overall MaaS experience. On the one hand, MaaS platforms are heavily dependent on high-quality data. This applies, for example, to timetable information or real-time data on the location of vehicles and their availability. This data must be reliable and managed efficiently and securely between the stakeholders. The same applies to the handling of account and payment data e. g. On the other hand, MaaS platforms are generating data and offer great potential for using mobility data analytics to create ever better, tailored mobility offers and to enhance service strategies. 

What happens to the data that the MaaS platform collects? Among the great diversity of MaaS stakeholders, who should “own” this data? Who can in theory use it for data analysis purposes? And how do you or other hosts of MaaS platforms make sure that the data stored is compliant with the EU data protection regulation (GDPR)?

TW: We firmly believe that the data which is generated by such a system belongs into the hands of our customers. Meaning in most cases public transit agencies, public transit operators or in short the public. Because we pay taxes so that there’s public infrastructure, we build public infrastructure and we provide public infrastructure, this is why we believe that the data being generated from such a system belongs to the public – it’s that simple!

Our key philosophy is we provide technology and our clients own the data. They need to be in touch with their users to know if they are happy with the service and to be able to reach out to them in case of an issue. If you don’t own the data you’re not in touch with your users anymore. And we believe that it is mind-blowing if you depend on a third-party provider to learn about what is going on in your own infrastructure.

And to the aspect of storing data in a GDPR-compliant way, this is not only a crucial aspect for our customers but also for the end-users, the passengers. Of course, we are making sure that this data is handled appropriately, we will make sure that nothing wrong happens with this data and that users won’t, all of a sudden, just because they used a MaaS-System or rode a bus, receive advertisements that they never wanted. This is not going to happen with our systems. We believe it is absolutely fundamental that the data stays with our clients and that we store and handle this data safely.

MaaS can have the power to bring together and connect different territories, including the most fragile. To do this, we need to develop digital services that provide quality intermodal information. But what are the other major challenges facing MaaS in low-density, rural areas?

TW: First and foremost, mobility in rural areas is a much bigger challenge than it is in Metropolitan areas. Ironically, even though there are traffic jams in the Metropolitan areas, there are also the most travel options, especially for sustainable travel. It seems absurd but the new modes of transportation show up in areas where you don’t desperately need them because in most cities the public transportation is very good. In contrast, rural areas are clearly not as attractive for anybody who offers mobility services, so I think it takes extra effort to have attractive transportation in rural areas. In my opinion in less densely populated areas, we just have to use resources in a smarter way:  for example, integrate the taxi services that are available already and make them more accessible.

What could be the role of DRT-Services in a MaaS-System, less densely populated areas?

TW: We have noticed that cities or public transit agencies when they think of Mobility-as-a-Service want to offer mobility alternatives to car ownership for a certain region. That means they want to offer a mobility solution for every aspect of people’s life. But if they look at their current infrastructures they eventually find certain gaps and issues – for example at night times or in rural areas.

This is where DRT comes in, it helps to fill those network holes. Whether network holes in a geographical meaning where there is only a poor existing transit service or network holes in a temporal meaning, for example, during night hours, where it simply does not pay off to have a fixed bus line service.

I think that’s the exciting part, MaaS can help to orchestrate this very well and make sure that we deploy DRT exactly where it complements existing infrastructure and public transportation.

As of today, there are not a lot of DRT services that are integrated into MaaS systems. How do you explain that? Is it because DRT is a rather young technology?

TW : Yes, I think that is simply because the technology is still emerging, it’s still an area that hasn’t been around for too long, and also, I believe people sometimes make the mistake to think that if you set up a DRT system you need to set up additional vehicles and drivers, which of course you could, but again I need to emphasise that in many cases drivers are already around. Often there are already existing operators, for example, taxi organisations, that have existing vehicles and drivers. So, I think if cities or public transit agencies realise that they can tap into this potential by just linking it smarter with a DRT-software, like Padam Mobility’s system. I think we need to educate them better and show them that they don’t always need a complete fleet and drivers but in most cases just the software.

SKW: I think it’s important to acknowledge that DRT should complement the existing public transport services and that there doesn’t need to be the fear that it will cannibalise the existing services. It’s an addition, it’s a very smart complement. Of course, it has to be orchestrated but I think there can be a synergetic relationship between public transport and DRT. But yes, there still is a need for education.


This article might interest you: Crossed views on MaaS with Kisio Digital

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