Legislation and regulations

Royal Geographical Society Symposium 2024: Geography in Practice – The Future of Rural Mobility

This day-long symposium held at the Royal Geographic Society presented a range of perspectives on the issues and challenges emerging in rural mobility. A range of speakers from different regions and bodies looked at case studies that covered the use of new low-carbon modes from e-bikes to DRT in rural areas.

Padam Mobility provided some of the research material used by researcher Beate Kubitz to present case studies to show the contrasting approaches to DRT in the UK and in France.

Mobility provision in the greater Orléans area through the RésaTAO on-demand service; Example extracted from Beate’s presentation

The French mobility law or LOM came into force in 2019 and affirms everyone’s right to mobility. It is the organising principle behind transport in France and has lead to French transport authorities reviewing their networks to ensure this provision. Whilst trains, trams and fixed line buses provide a network of mass transit, where the population is less dense – at the edges of cities and in rural areas – they have designed DRT services to link people to onward travel or allow them to travel within their area. These DRT schemes form rings round major cities, serving dispersed communities, villages and hamlets.

In the UK, the Future of Transport rural strategy includes DRT as an effective part of rural transport. However, the implementation so far is more fragmented, with a number of pilots funded by the Rural Transport Fund providing services in some areas.

Mapping the population density in the HertsLynx on-demand service area for the county of Hertfordshire; analysing mobility supply gaps; Example extracted from Beate’s presentation

There are still similarities between the UK and France though. Where DRT schemes are implemented there are common themes that emerge in the experience of the people using it. Research indicates that DRT enables more people to access public transport close to their homes, their journey times by public transport are reduced and they can travel to work, social activities and services.

Did you miss Beate’s presentation? Contact her by clicking here to find out more.

We also recommend reading “Future of Transport” by the Department for Transport, which is freely available under this link.


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What does the £2 bus cap mean for DRT?

Rural bus stop

The UK government announced a £2 bus fare cap across England to save passengers money.

With many DRT fares based on distance, this cap could benefit rural passengers who generally travel much further distances between their homes and education, employment and services and often for leisure and social purposes because of the dispersed nature of these areas.

Whilst urban dwellers travelled an average of 4.89 miles per trip according to the 2021 National Travel Survey, people living in rural villages, hamlets and isolated dwelling travelled 8.38 miles per trip on average. Rural travellers made slightly more trips on average per person by a small margin (769 vs urban travellers’ 748) they also travelled the furthest distance on average with 6,449 miles per person in 2021, compared to the average for urban conurbations where people travelled 3,661 miles per year on average. Whilst these were the most extreme differences, people living in rural towns and fringe areas lie in between with 6.57 miles per trip (making on average 751 trips totalling 4,935 miles per year) and urban city and town dwellers travelling 5.84 miles on average (a total of 4,456 miles over 763 trips per year).

Car ownership and use is also markedly higher in rural areas – correlating strongly with poor or absent of public transport.

At the same time, recent trials of DRT in rural areas have shown there is demand for bus services when they are reliable and get people to the places they need to be at the times they need to be there. Often though, where fares are set per mile, this can mean several pounds per trip.

The £2 cap could shrink the costs of DRT to passengers and increase the take up of DRT even further, helping to accelerate change in rural areas and reduce car dependency.

Details of how the cap will be administered are yet to be published. But as the appetite to use buses grows, we need to ensure that the cap is fully funded so that this new demand can be met.


This article could also interest you: It’s time to rethink our regulations 

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It’s time to rethink our regulations

Demand-Responsive Transport Lyon Strasbourg

Multi-operator DRT services can makes buses accessible to more people and drive down per-passenger subsidies, but barriers exist.

An article by Beate Kubitz 

Bus economics necessitate difficult questions. Whilst efficient corridor routes have been optimised and finely tuned to ensure profitability, networks which reach into communities at a more granular level, are,
almost by definition, impossible to configure as high capacity, high volume services. On this level, demand responsive transport (DRT) offers an efficient way of creating a bus network.

However, there’s no evidence of lavish subsidies in the offing, so it too comes with its own set of questions: Where can DRT drive up patronage, so that the per passenger subsidy goes down? How can we reduce vehicle numbers to ensure that the fleet is efficient? And how can we combine operators and services available to ensure that all capacity is utilised?

It’s not just a question of subsidy, either. Duplicate vehicles and parallel services are all eating into our limited carbon budget. We need to ensure that services are both financially and emissions efficient. The variables at play here are passenger groups, vehicle numbers and operators. Optimisation ensures they are combined to ensure that people get to their destinations as needed, whilst using the least resources.

However, in the UK, when we look at bus services, what we see are not so much networks as fragmented services run by assorted operators (and sometimes different types of operator) with multiple funding streams – sometimes duplicating each other – and which may also be providing their services under differently regulated frameworks.

Most visibly, the traditional fixed line bus network comprises an assortment of routes, some of which are run by bus operators ‘for profit’ without local authority intervention, some funded by local authorities, some that are blended versions (for instance with the off-peak subsidised whilst peak services are not).
Then, beyond the ‘traditional public transport’ envelope, there are various forms of community transport which exist in a very different space. In some cases, community transport works similarly to commercial bus services but servicing ‘not for profit’ routes that would not otherwise exist, and others which are more like community coach trips – booked in advance for a round trip to an attraction, shop or service – with yet more that are more akin to low-cost taxis with volunteer drivers taking individuals to appointments.

On top of this we have various different social care transport services, school buses and tailored travel for vulnerable children and adults. Then there are services for NHS patients that often cover very similar catchment areas. A further group of services have emerged serving (largely) out of town business parks – not deemed sufficiently attractive by commercial bus operators – in the form of the modern equivalent of the ‘works bus’: an on-demand shuttle or a taxi sharing app.

If we take an honest (and wide-ranging) look across all areas, there are all sorts of duplications even within funded transport. For instance, there are Ring & Ride-type access services being operated in parallel with DRT services because different funding streams procure different resources. This has been a constant frustration for local authorities. Total Transport pilots tried to address some of these duplication issues and optimise vehicle usage, however it proved difficult to execute sophisticated ideas about fleet optimisation or combining use cases.

Over the last three years, the capability of the technology has come a long way, addressing some of the execution issues. For instance, the Padam Mobility platform is able to combine multiple operators into a single service and sophisticated software has the potential to merge different use cases with one service. It also offers a paratransit software element in order to handle social service and health care transport, providing the right vehicle for the trips needed and optimising the overall fleet management.

In one area DRT is combined with home-to-school transport using the same vehicles reducing the cost of the home-to-school from around £10 per head down to £5. Adding in further deployments to increase utilisation could lower this further. However, if we look at other countries with different regulatory systems, we see more radical combinations.

In Strasbourg, Padam Mobility blends door-to-door ‘paratransit’ with bus stop-to-bus stop DRT, using the same fleet. For the Île-de-France Mobilités service which connects people who live on the outer edges of suburbs beyond the Paris metropolitan area Padam Mobility has combined multiple operators onto a single platform. Combining in this way across operators has shown instances where the work of 20 minibuses can now be done by 12, which obviously implies significant savings.

In the UK, however, the technology only takes us so far. Legacy regulation – where each type of services has its own regulatory framework – restricts the potential for combining use cases. These differing frameworks affect many of the aspects of the service: the types of vehicles that can be used, timetables and routes (and how changes must be registered), driver licensing and training requirements, conditions of carriage and the fares that can be charged (and whether they attract VAT).

The final section provides a brief, incomplete overview of these regulations in the UK.

Why is regulation an issue?

The current regulatory framework makes it hard to create simple and pragmatic solutions that enable vehicle use to be maximised and fleets adapted. Once services try to optimise and provide the right size vehicle for the time of day the service could potential segue between regulatory frameworks. A bus service that runs a single decker at peak times, a mini-bus during off-peak and a ‘shared taxi’ to ensure that people working early or late shifts can still get home appears to need more than one type of registration. Adding community services to an on-demand transport platform to help augment off-peak provision would violate the Section 19 registration of a community transport operator (not open to the public) and is a minefield in the case of Section 22 with some operators being challenged over their ‘not for profit’ status in the courts. Some on-demand shared trip services base prices on the number of people riding in order to enable PSV or taxi companies to provide the services and remain profitable – whilst this works in some circumstances it becomes difficult to integrate in the public transport network to augment low density scenarios.

We’ve also found commuter shuttles organised privately for employers often require subsidies from them – whilst also excluding other people travelling along their routes. This is generally because they’re not registered as public bus routes – one factor in that is the time delay that is built into registering with
the traffic commissioner.

Optimise multi-operator services

Whilst it’s increasingly worthwhile to look at how DRT platform technologies can host an efficient cross-contract and multi-user services it’s also important to look at the limitations regulation places on these
combinations. A sophisticated DRT platform can potentially manage a service supplied by community transport or even taxis at some times of day whilst moving to a bus operator on a fixed time table at others.

It seems that regulation needs a rethink to make this a manageable process. The costs of not doing so are both financial and in under-utilised assets which means wasting our ever-diminishing carbon budget.
The opportunity, however, where local authorities, operators, businesses and the third sector all work on networks together, is that together we can drive down per passenger subsidies – whilst still improving services and increasing the number of people who have the option to take the bus.

A short incomplete survey of regulation

Public bus services are registered with the Office of the Traffic Commissioner and must meet certain standards. Following the introduction of the Bus Open Data regulations in 2021, ticket prices for public transport buses must be notified to the secretary of state – in practice this means uploading them through the Department for Transport’s Open Data portal. All public service vehicles (over eight people) need to be fully accessible, regardless of size.

The situation becomes more complex for flexible bus services. Whilst they must register with the Traffic Commissioner they must comply with additional criteria (e.g. “fare information must be clearly displayed”). Flexible services that cover locations more than 15 miles apart (in a straight line) do not qualify for BSOG (Bus Service Operators Grant). There is also a requirement that fares per passenger must be fixed, rather than reducing as more passengers board (in the case that fares reduce if more people share a vehicle that vehicle would be classed as a PHV). Passengers should pre-book but there is no minimum booking time. Passengers who haven’t pre-booked can be carried but the route cannot be altered to accommodate them (because this would then be classed as a taxi service). Whilst bus tickets do not attract VAT, taxi fares do.

Community transport services which are open to the public (Section 22) must register with the Traffic Commissioner. They cannot make a profit unless offering hire services which do not compete with public bus services. In addition, Section 19 Permits can be issued by Local Authorities to organisations operating services for education, religious or community transport purposes for small vehicles such as up to 17 seater minibuses. Larger vehicles must be registered with the Traffic Commissioner. They cannot be open to the public.

Taxi services are registered with local authorities and registration includes agreement on the fares set whilst private hire services are registered with local authorities, which can impose conditions on the type and age of vehicle but has no power to set fares. A maximum of eight passengers can be carried. VAT is payable on fares (although small businesses don’t meet the threshold, private hire apps like Uber do). Whilst bus services have to be fully accessible, a limited number taxi and private hire services are. As an aside, these conditions vary where services are registered in London, in particular there is usually an additional requirement to register with Transport for London.

About the author

Beate Kubitz

Beate Kubitz specialise in analysing new technology, agendas and behaviours and articulating their potential future impact.




This article was first published in Passenger Transport. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.

This article might interest you as well: Linking people to places – How on-demand transport joins up the bus network 

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Public transport demand and the built environment

Beate Kubitz
Guest article by Beate Kubitz.

Beate Kubitz is a real insider of the transport sector. As an independent consultant and publicist on topics related to mobility and innovation, she is always on top of the latest facts when it comes to explaining the impact of new forms of mobility on society and politics.



Public transport demand is deeply linked to the availability of public transport. Where the network is poor and infrequent – often in rural and periurban areas – car ownership rises. In a vicious cycle, the increase in car use further reduces demand for public transport and makes services less viable.

What is less recognised is that this has an effect on both those areas with poor public transport, (the origins of most journeys) and their destinations – which are often in urban centres.

Dropping demand, falling funding

Public transport in the UK faces a difficult future. Against a background of steady decline as the UK gradually turned to private car travel, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a sharp drop-off in ridership. The Bus Recovery Grant, intended to shore up the market, looks likely to be withdrawn before passenger numbers have fully recovered.

The issues facing public transport, while exacerbated by the pandemic, have been in the making for some time. For buses, deregulation has caused, or at the very least coincided with, a steady decline in usage. The focus on profitability has also meant that operators have pared their routes to those that are commercially viable, on busy corridors. It has become increasingly difficult for local authorities to maintain ‘socially important’ services connecting communities lying off these corridors.

Since 1986, local authorities outside London have been unable to set service routes and frequencies, or subsidise fares. The final say on where and how they will be delivered rests mainly in the hands of commercial operators. Local authorities have also suffered cuts to funding, meaning they cannot commission bus services to augment commercially viable routes.

This removal of control from local authorities has resulted in transport networks with patchy coverage in many areas, missed connections between transport networks, and long waiting times between services. It is not difficult to find examples of local journeys to key destinations which take two or three times as long by public transport.

Among the other factors affecting the uptake of public transport, are information and cost. On the positive side, the Bus Open Data Service is slowly opening access to timetable and fare information so that digital journey planners work effectively.

However, bus fares have risen at a rate far above inflation. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics in 2021 found bus fares were six times more expensive than they were in 1987. Attempts by authorities outside London to introduce integrated ticketing, emulating London’s Oyster card, have met with difficulties.

A further issue is the failure to integrate transport into new housing developments. A damning 2022 report by the campaign group Transport for New Homes examined 20 new-build estates, and found that the majority were planned in a way that “locked in” private car use. This in turn had an impact on the quality of housing, as more space had to be given over to parking.

Policy and practice are not strong in this area. The misallocation of funding obtained from developers as part of the planning process – and the granting of planning permission on the assumption that better public transport would somehow follow development – have been cited as causes of this type of car-centric development. The National Policy and Planning Framework cautions against applying maximum parking limits to new developments, despite the success of low and zero car development.

Coordinating transport policy, planning policy and funding

In order to address the issues, there needs to be a step change in funding and policy.

First, public transport needs to be brought closer to more homes and destinations. In cities that have data on access to public transport, such as London and Manchester, higher accessibility correlates strongly with lower car ownership.

An important element to explore is how demand responsive transport (DRT) can be used to improve accessibility or network coverage. Whilst ‘dial-a-ride’ DRT schemes have been around for a while, more sophisticated platform-based DRT enables on-demand services to be accessible as part of the public transport network.

Active travel improvements can also play a role, by creating safer, more direct walking and cycling routes, with secure bike parking and e-bike charging at transport interchanges.

Local authorities need powers and funding to deliver improvements to public transport. Devolved powers in relation to transport should be increased. The obstacles to introducing bus franchising and enhanced partnerships should be removed, as there is no other way to ensure reasonable levels of service or integration with other transport networks. Areas that have already become “transport deserts” should be provided with DRT services that replicate the convenience of a good fixed route bus service.

The present funding landscape for public transport and active travel is full of potential stumbling blocks. For instance, methods of assessing benefit to cost ratios for public transport schemes are urgently in need of reform. Rapid transit networks are required to show unreasonably high BCRs, often based on pessimistic assumptions of future passenger numbers. The Borders Railway in Scotland was built in spite of estimates of just 30,000 then 650,000 passengers per year. The reality, in its first year of operation, was over a million.

Government tools such as WebTAG do not correctly value active travel, prioritising free movement of private vehicle traffic over convenient local journeys on bike and by foot. AMAT, the assessment tool for active travel schemes, is designed to favour schemes that can already show a high proportion of active travel users, which can increase transport inequality. As nearly all public transport journeys contain an element of active travel, defects with these assessment tools penalise public transport too.

Finally, planning regulations should be reassessed in light of the urgent need to decarbonise transport. This means that connectivity of new developments to existing transport networks should be ensured from the outset (rather than being left to be put in at a future date). More S.106 and CIL funding should be used for improvement and development of local transport services. Resources should also be allocated to “retro-fit” poorly connected existing developments, using DRT to ensure people can access frequent fixed route public transport easily.

We need a public transport network that reaches close to people’s homes and their ultimate destinations. This will require changes to transport policy and funding, and the exploitation of new innovations and proven methods to reduce car ownership. With less need for private vehicles, public transport will function better, and we will be able to use land for housing people rather than cars.


Find out more about Padam Mobility 

This article might interest you as well: Using Data Science to Increase the Success of Your DRT Scheme

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Beyond BSIPs: Building DRT into Enhanced Partnerships

public transport in United Kingdom
On Wednesday 10 November, Padam Mobility, together with Landor Links, hosted a webinar on this very topic. You can access the recording here.

At the end of October, Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) and local bus operators in the UK agreed on their Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIPs). The next step, in order to receive future funding, is to submit detailed plans for Enhanced Partnerships (EP) or franchised operations by March 2022.

In this article, we clarify some of the key aspects that LTAs and bus operators need to consider if they want to successfully integrate on-demand services into their plans.

Demand-Responsive services as mobility catalysts 

Bus passenger numbers in the UK have been falling for some time – and with lockdown and the pandemic, they plummeted. The 2021 National Bus strategy and the subsequent process is an attempt to address some of the systemic issues which have made travelling by bus increasingly unattractive and unviable for many people. Although high-frequency bus services are popular with passengers, they are almost impossible to implement in sparsely populated, rural areas – and challenging even in many peri-urban areas. Economic pressures mean that the service often diminishes in off-peak hours – limiting the usefulness of the bus further. This means that the car is still the most popular means of transport in these areas.

Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) services can counter this problem. With the help of smart algorithms, ride requests can be processed much more flexibly and individually. This does not involve the deployment of a new vehicle for each requested ride, but rather the combination of several booked rides in advance and/or in real-time. On-demand services can be used, for example, when it is not worthwhile to maintain one or more fixed lines, such as at weekends or during off-peak times, outside of school and commuter traffic or at night. 

Use Case: West Leatherhead DRT for Mole Valley 

Together with Mole Valley District Council, Padam Mobility set up a DRT service aimed at maintaining the mobility of the older population in rural areas.

Older people often suffer from having little suitable mobility provision available to pursue an active social life. Thanks to the transport service, which can easily be booked over the phone, they have the flexibility to reach the most important points in their neighbourhood, such as the shopping centre or social events. The service can be booked almost up to a month in advance and is easily accessible for people who rely on assistive devices, such as walking frames.  

What LTAs need to look out for  

Many BSIPs include DRT as a tool for expanding networks, expanding access to buses in rural areas, and to optimise community and accessible transport. The next step is to draw up Enhanced Partnership Plans. Plans for DRT services will need to take account of: 

  • Accessibility: as described in our Mole Valley example, the target groups for on-demand transport are often people who rely on assistance to be mobile. These may be older people or people with disabilities. In order to ensure that People with Reduced Mobility can be transported smoothly, Local Transport Authorities have to make sure that the vehicles intended for the DRT service have the appropriate equipment, for example, to carry an electric wheelchair, etc. 
  • Another important point in this context is the service design. On-demand services have the great advantage that they are not bound to fixed stops that must be served one after the other, but can be configured very flexibly. This means that almost any number of virtual stops can be set up, making it much easier for people to reach a transport service (or the transport service to reach them). In some cases, door-to-door services can also be implemented, transporting passengers from their front door directly to their desired destination.
  • Pricing: On-demand services should not be considered as stand-alone services, but should be integrated into local ticketing offers. Integrated ticketing is now a requirement of Enhanced Partnerships and a feature of franchises, so this should become simpler to make a reality in 2022. Subscriptions and other season tickets should be valid in the vehicles just like “normal” single tickets, and there should be no surcharge. On this matter, Padam Mobility and Ticketer announced a newly formed partnership widening the opportunities for further DRT ticketing integration for operators and local authorities.
  • Network structure: The DRT service branding should show that it is part of the network – reflected in the logo or name of the service, for example. This increases comprehensibility and acceptance among users. In addition, it needs to be ensured that the service does not cannibalise fixed-line services. To guarantee this, the DRT can be configured so that bookings are only possible if the DRT ride cannot be made by fixed-line buses. 
  • Passenger information: Passengers must always be informed about the status of their travel options and their current bookings. For this purpose, DRT service operators have a variety of options at their disposal. A direct contact with the users can be achieved via text message, email or in-app messages in the DRT user app. In this way, complications and frustrations on the part of the passenger can be reduced, while at the same time confidence and trust grow.
  • Booking ahead: For DRT to work as part of the public transport network it needs to be very reliable. It must offer the option for people to book well in advance and guarantee the booking so that they know that they’ll reach work, catch their train or make their appointment as reliably as with a regular, high frequency, bus service. Also, local trip planners and timetables should include any DRT services so that people know what options are available to them.
With you on your journey! 

The National Bus Strategy is a milestone in the history of public transport in the UK. In the next few months, several authorities will be working on plans for network expansion and service development with DRT to develop successful EP plans and schemes. 

DRT schemes can achieve many goals – but to achieve their goals they need to be set up carefully and initial parameters configured to ensure they can meet them. Designing a DRT scheme to be cost-effective or more suitable for certain groups of passengers or particular trips will require careful planning and choices about elements of the scheme. At Padam Mobility, we have helped our clients design appropriate on-demand services in rural and urban areas. 

If you would like to hear more practical tips for successful DRT schemes, come along to our webinar series on “Enhanced Partnerships” next Wednesday 10 November, at 10:30 am by registering here.

In the first webinar, hosted by UK new mobility expert Beate Kubitz, we will look in detail at what LTAs need to consider when establishing Demand Responsive Transport as part of their Enhanced Partnerships Plan. 


You couldn’t attend the live webinar? No problem, rewatch it here.


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Rural mobility: How to build a DRT offering to maximise commercial sustainability beyond the funding 

Rural Mobility Webinar

Mobility in rural areas: How to set up a DRT offer to ensure economic sustainability beyond the funding – this was the topic discussed by mobility experts in a recent webinar organised by Padam Mobility and presented by Beate Kubitz. Read the most important take-aways here!

While public transport in urban areas is largely well developed, rural regions are usually poorly or not at all connected to a public network.

Demand-Responsive Transport, i.e. transport that adapts to the needs of the individual inhabitants, can remedy this situation. Vehicles only cover the itineraries users request, thus avoiding unnecessary kilometres and CO2 emissions. A good idea in theory, however, not yet implemented in reality.

What are the reasons why DRT services remain rather underdeveloped?

The feasibility and concrete deployment of Demand-Responsive Transport services were discussed by the 5 mobility experts Beate Kubitz, Matthew Clark (Steer), Matt Dacey (VIX Technology), David Shakory (formerly MOIA, now what3works), and David Carnero (Padam Mobility) in a dedicated webinar entitled “Rural mobility: how to build a DRT service to ensure economic sustainability beyond subsidies” that has been organised by Padam Mobility and can be watched here in full-lengths.  

The experts agree, DRT is an important achievement and has great potential to significantly improve the mobility of rural populations and thus their overall quality of life. 

However, in order to make DRT available to all, it is necessary to overcome prejudices and eliminate identified problems. An important aspect in this context is the flexibility of the operator and the software provider. Each territory is different and therefore needs to be analysed individually in order to identify how the DRT service needs to be designed to provide added value for users.

First you have to understand exactly what the real needs of the population are and how these needs can be met“, says Matthew Clark. He adds “It is important to realise that ‘rural’ is not one place“. This aspect recurs throughout the discussion: understanding the needs and adapting a flexible DRT offer accordingly. 

How is it possible to make Demand-Responsive Transport economically viable?

So far, the general view is that public pooling services are not profitable. However, this should not be the main incentive to provide rural DRT to the population. David Carnero says any newly implemented service has to reach a certain point “where it is efficient from an operational point of view“.  He adds, “It’s a platform play, so the platform has to be built, the usage has to be built (…).”  To be able to speak of profitability at all, the service must offer users real added value, be well accepted by them and establish itself in the long term. This process does not happen overnight.

It is also crucial that DRT services are used efficiently, not simply as another mobility product in addition to the existing traffic, but to actually relieve traffic, for example, if users decide to use a DRT service to the nearest transport hub instead of relying on their own car. 

The high user-friendliness offered by DRT services can be a driver to encourage users in general to use more public mobility services. This could be an important step towards Maas (Mobility as a Service) and revolutionise the way we perceive and use mobility – especially in rural areas. 

Watch the full webinar in replay 

What do you think about this topic? Don’t hesitate to contact us!


This article might interest you: Mobility-as-a-Service and DRT: Towards A sustainable Platform

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Padam Mobility offers technological solutions to ensure social distancing in transports

End of stay-at-home order

During the month of May, the population will experience a gradual end of lockdown. Returning to school or to the work, the issue of traveling within safe distances is a challenge.

Transforming bus lines that embark passengers at stops into vehicles that take reservations via mobile app, website or phone, will guarantee social distancing.

This will avoid passengers having to let buses pass because they carry too many passengers. With the right technology, it is also very simple to implement.

It is a matter of accompanying public transport in in the end of lockdown for which it is already urgent to prepare, with ambition and a sense of responsibility. To get out of the health crisis, but also the economic and social crisis we are experiencing.

Grégoire Bonnat, Co-founder and CEO of Padam Mobility

Presented by governments around the world, the end of the saty-at-home order plans set out broad strategic guidelines. Priority subjects: public health, getting people back to work, reopening businesses, schools and transport.

To avoid contagion in metros, buses or trams while allowing citizens to move around, one possible solution may be to transform the usual lines into on-demand transport, easily adaptable and meeting health safety requirements.

Transforming a bus line into a on-demand Transport : a preferred means of mobility to adapt to all demands while ensuring health safety.

On a very simple model, users will be able to reserve a seat on their bus via a mobile application, a website, or a dedicated call centre. The number of seats available in a vehicle at a given time will depend on health constraints. This number could be evolving very easily as the end of the stay-at-home order progresses: technology allows it. Thus, it will be possible to ensure a filling of 20%, then 40%, 60%, and so on until the return to normal. It will even be possible to go back if necessary.

Transportation is guaranteed, there is no more risk of ending up in a full bus, or of having to let it pass without knowing if there will be room in the next one. The transportation offer becomes clear and readable for everyone.

Several customers have already asked us to set up reservation solutions adapted to the specific needs of the period.

From one day to another, we will get instructions related to the opening of this school or that factory. Public transportation must be able to adapt very quickly. On-demand Transport works with an associated software that allows us to foresee and guarantee reservations. It is a tailor-made mobility solution, adaptable in real time and therefore extremely relevant in this context of end of stay-at-home order.

Grégoire Bonnat, Co-founder and CEO of Padam Mobility

End of lockdown and massive influx of passengers: the concern of public transit operators

“Transports are a key factor in economic recovery, but it is particularly difficult to maintain physical distancing and sanitary measures,” introduced the French Prime Minister before detailing future government measures for public transport.

For the entire Paris region, RATP President Catherine Guillouard already explained on France Inter on 24 April that ensuring safe distances would not be feasible, given the hyper-density of the Parisian network: “If we had to apply the rules of social distancing, we would only produce 2 million journeys per day, compared to 8 million with a network supply at 70%. …] We must plead for teleworking and refer to the new mobilities”. Maintained until now at 30%, RATP traffic should increase to 70% from the first day of the end of stay-at-home order. An opinion supported by the UNSA-RATP union, judging that it would be “unmanageable by the company” to police all travellers and committing everyone to take responsibility and to telework as much as possible.

The same concerns and observations were made by other French cities, such as Le Mans and Lyon, which are preparing to reopen 80% of their public transit networks. Last Wednesday (22 April), the SYTRAL president Fouziya Bouzerda presented the measures envisaged during the end of the stay-at-home order to manage the flow of passengers to come: installation of vending machines in metro stations allowing the purchase of kits containing masks and hydroalcoholic gel, installation of automatic disinfecting kiosks and cleaning of trains with virucide.

By offering to reduce and guarantee the number of seats available in the vehicles to respect social distancing, Padam Mobility ensures the continuity of its services in strict compliance with the health measures in force (wearing of masks for drivers, systematic disinfection of vehicles).


Find out more about DRT’s adaptations in times of CoVid 19

Coronavirus : learn how Padam Mobility helps DRT operators to adapt their services



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Public Authorities and Operators make massive use of DRT to adapt to the crisis

Demand-Responsive Transport CoVid 19

In this period of CoVid 19 health crisis, all of the affected countries have largely readjusted their transport offer. Demand responsive transport (DRT) is not exempt to this rule. The flexibility of its operation enables it to respond quickly and efficiently to the travel needs of the healthcare personnel while respecting the security measures in force. A tour of these DRT services that have been able to adapt overnight to the new health context.    

All over France, regular DRT services are adapting to serve healthcare institutions and responding to the caregiver’s rhythms.

In Menton, Zestbus, previously a regular shuttle service dedicated to the inhabitants of the town, has been transformed into a DRT service specially addressed to the carers of the riviera. In Fleurance near Toulouse, the existing DRT service for senior citizens or people with no means of transportation is being reconfigured to transport the staff of public health institutions. In Strasbourg, in the Grand-Est region, the Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois (CTS), in collaboration with Padam Mobility, has adapted its Flex’hop Z1 DRT service to the needs of hospital staff.The capacity of their vehicles is limited to two people in addition to the driver.

In Saint-Omer, in the Pas-de-Calais region of France, DRT Mouvéo’s service optimization algorithms have been adapted by Padam Mobility to expand the service perimeter and meet new travel needs.

 Some DRT services are created from scratch to improve the mobility of the medical profession.

As is the case in Nice,, where a DRT service has been specifically set up for hospital staff. Open 24/7, the vehicles are operated jointly by the Régie Ligne d’Azur and the city’s taxis.

The Transport of Persons with Reduced Mobility (TPMR) services are also open to the transport of care personnel.

In Bordeaux (Mobibus), Saint-Étienne (HandiSTAS), Nancy (Synergihp), Toulouse (Tisseo), Nantes (Tan), Orléans (TAO), Le Havre (MobiFil), existing MPRT services were opened free of charge – usually 24/7 – to hospital, clinic and Hospice staff. In Grenoble, the Fléxo+ TPMR service open exclusively to caregivers is used on average 130 times a day.

Demand responsive transports that remain open to the general public are organised in such a way as to ensure that social distancing measures are respected.

Ile-de-France Mobilités, the Ile-de-France transport authority, has decided to keep all its DRT (DRT IDFM Padam Mobility) services open after implementing numerous safety and health measures in partnership with local authorities and operators.

In Marne La Vallée, east of Paris, Plus de Pep’s DRT service working with Padam Mobility has been reconfigured by Padam Mobility to no longer offer journeys to or from the market.

In Lyon, the DRT service, TCL on demand, which works with Padam Mobility, the Sytral has reduced the number of seats available in each vehicle to two in order to comply with the 1 metre safety distance recommended by the authorities.

With the reduction in group travel in Bain-de-Bretagne, the community of communes has decided to maintain the Tadi Lib’ demand responsive transport service in the twenty communes of the inter-communal territory for the most vulnerable people. In Morbihan, the town of Auray and Keolis have decided to keep the DRT Auray Bus service open, under the same operating conditions, in particular to facilitate travel for healthcare staff and relatives of isolated people, while reinforcing health rules for the benefit of all.

In the Gard Rhodanien, the bus lines are closed except for transport on demand provided by the UGGO service, intended for people over 65 years of age.

DRT services abroad are not left behind and are also adapting to the health context. 

In York, USA, the DRT Rabbit transit service has implemented strict security measures following Governor Wolf’s recommendations.

In Scotland, 3 bus services have converted to DRT to guarantee service to the territories. In Edinburgh,  Border buses allow healthcare staff to travel free of charge. In Jedburgh and Newcastle, Peter Hogg and Telfords services remain open to all and are accessible by reservation 24/7.

In Padua, Italy, the operator Busitalia has modified its DRT Night Shift service. Initially designed for night travel by students, the service hours have been extended to the whole day.

In Quebec, in the municipality of Charlevoix, the  County Transit service also interrupted its night service to operate from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. In addition to meeting the travel needs of residents, it provides meals and essential supplies to seniors’ centres.

Local authorities and operators are organized and committed to guaranteeing the continuity of the public transport service in the best possible sanitary conditions and to providing a response adapted to the travel needs of healthcare personnel.  

Thanks to their flexible management, Padam Mobility’s dynamic DRT solutions have proven their efficiency and their ability to adapt to the particularities of these new contexts. The company continues its commitment to develop ever more intelligent and inclusive mobility solutions, more agile and supportive, which will adapt to tomorrow’s world, post Covid-19. 


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Which key measures for Demand-Responsive Transport in the new French Mobility Act?

Mobility Act key mesures Demand-Responsive Transport

What are the main key measures for Demand-Responsive Transport in the new French Mobility Act (LOM)? The text was published in the Official Journal of December 24, 2019. It brings many advances on shared mobility solutions including Demand-Responsive Transport. In particular, it marks the transition from a transport policy oriented towards major projects to an “everyday mobility” policy . 8 key points are to bear in mind:

1. Public Transport Authorities (PTA) mobility can more easily offer Demand-Responsive Transport services.

It is now possible for a PTA to intervene in the following 6 main areas, to develop an adapted offer to the territories: conventional regular transport, Demand-Responsive Transport, school transport, active and shared mobility, as well as solidarity mobility.

2. The mobility plans replace the current urban travel plans (PDU) and take into account Demand-Responsive Transport.

Active and shared mobility, solidarity mobility and the logistic challenges are better apprehended in these new plans. They are part of the objectives to fight urban sprawl, air pollution and for the preservation of biodiversity.

3. The transportation subsidy becomes the mobility subsidy and includes Demand-Responsive Transport.

This subsidy is subject to the setting up of conventional regular public transport services. In addition, it is possible to adjust its rate within the same work union according to the density of the territories.

4. Demand-Responsive Transport for People with Reduced Mobility (paratransit) is facilitated.

The mobility of people with reduced mobility will be facilitated, through concrete measures which include paratransit.

5. The development of Demand-Responsive Transport is facilitated.

The challenge is to make innovation a lever to meet the many unmet mobility needs.

6. The legal framework for carrying out experiments (POCs) on Demand-Responsive Transport in rural areas is adapted.

The act empowers the Government to legislate by ordinance to introduce legislative-level exemptions. This provision is part of the France Expérimentation approach.

7. Employers can implement Demand-Responsive Transport to facilitate their employees’ commuting as part of the compulsory negotiations to be carried out within companies with more than 50 employees.

These agreements must specify the manner in which employers undertake to facilitate the home-to-work trips of their employees. It could take the form of a mobility voucher.

8. A sustainable mobility package is created: up to € 400 / year to go to work by Demand-Responsive Transport.

Tous les employeurs privés et publics pourront contribuer aux frais de déplacement domicile-travail en solutions de mobilité partagée de leurs salariés. Ce forfait pourra s’élever jusqu’à 400 €/an en franchise d’impôt et de cotisations sociales. Aussi, il remplacera l’indemnité kilométrique vélo mise en place jusqu’à ce jour, mais dont la mise en œuvre est restée limitée car trop complexe. Ce forfait sera cumulable avec la participation de l’employeur à l’abonnement de transport en commun, dans une limite de 400€/an (la prise en charge de l’abonnement de transport en commun reste déplafonnée).

All private and public employers will be able to contribute to home-to-work trips’ costs through shared mobility solutions for their employees. This package can be up to € 400 / year free of tax and healthcare contributions. Also, it will replace the bicycle mileage allowance set up to date, but whose implementation has been limited because of it’s complexity. This package can be combined with the employer’s participation to the public transport subscription, up to a limit of € 400 / year (support for the public transport subscription remains uncapped).


Learn more about the LOM, the French Mobility Act (in Frenc)

Learn more about Home-to-Work trips

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7 things to keep in mind from the LOM Act

LOM act

Between climate emergency and changing territories, the transport issues are important. The last law on the matter dates from 1982 with the Internal Transport Orientation Act. In 35 years, however, behavioural, technological, political and societal changes have been unprecedented. To face the current challenges, Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne is conveing the LOM Act (Mobility Orientation Law). This new regulation aims to radically transform transport and mobility. Major changes are planned, and they may well renew the daily habits of the public. Focus on 7 points to keep in mind.

LOM Act : the mobility organising authorities

The closer the decision-making centres are to the territories, the more concrete, fast and adapted the strategies put in place can be. To achieve this, the LOM law suggest for the entire French territory to be covered by Mobility Organising Authorities (MOA). They will find their place among communities or regions, and will be used to better coordinate local travels. Until then, only a handful of major cities has this power.

LOM Act : a subsidized and simplified carpooling

Carpooling saves time, money and energy, especially on territories that are poorly covered by the train. To encourage it, local authorities will be able to create grants to encourage carpooling offers. They will also be able to develop and build lanes dedicated to carpooling and the least polluting vehicles on major roads (including highways and peripherals).

LOM Act : a custom-made social support

The purpose of this measure is to support those who most likely have a difficulty to move, such as job seekers, seniors or children. This will allow communities to implement social mobility services and provide individual assistance.

LOM Act : a sustainable mobility package to ease transportation

Most trips are limited to commuting to work. To make them easier, the LOM Act introduce a sustainable mobility package of up to 400 euros per year without taxes, and social contributions to encourage the use of carpooling and bicycles. This package encourages public and private employers to play a part in the financing of transport for their employees.

LOM law : an ambitious bike plan

Cycling concernes 3% of daily trips, while 70% of trips lenth from home to work are less than 5 kilometres. To encourage workers to use bicycles more, a fund of 350 million euros is disbursed to develop cycle routes and take action against theft. This bike plan includes the harmonization and continuity of cycling networks, especially in the most dangerous places for cyclists.

LOM law : The equipment of the charging stations

Electric vehicles are an important environmental alternative, but they can only enhance if charging stations are easily accessible. This is why the new law makes them mandatory in all car parks with more than ten spaces, in new or renovated buildings, as well as in all car parks with more than 20 parking spaces in non-residential buildings by 2025.

LOM law : the low-emission zones

Unsurprisingly, air quality is far from optimal in major cities. From now on, areas with more than 100,000 inhabitants will be able to create low-emission zones, where polluting vehicles will be prohibited (or at least reduced) at certain times. At the moment, 15 territories have committed to create low-emission zones by 2020: Aix Marseille, Clermont-Ferrand, Paris and Greater Paris, Grand Lyon, Grenoble, Montpellier, Nice, Rouen, Saint-Étienne, Strasbourg, Toulon, Toulouse, Fort-de-France and Grand Reims.

The Mobility Orientation Act is a toolkit that aims to change the existing legal framework for transport. This will allow communities to embark on a profound transformation of public policies and new mobility, with a focus on improving everyday transport for all citizens and in all territories. It helps to define the major trends and issues of urban mobility to make tomorrow’s transport a structuring axis that is more practical, more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

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