Padam Mobility Launches New Demand Responsive Transport App as part of the Solent Future Transport Zone programme

Padam Mobility and SCiA Project Teams

In collaboration with Community Transport Organizations FYT Bus on the Isle of Wight and Southampton’s Social Care in Action (SCiA) Dial-a-Ride; Solent Transport and its four local authority partners, have introduced a new mobile app for the Solent region to improve access to FYT and SCiA’s services.

Specifically, FYT’s on-demand service will cater to residents and visitors on the western side of the Isle of Wight, while members of Dial-a-Ride in Southampton will be able to book SCiA’s Dial-a-Ride service through the new mobile app.

Powered by Padam Mobility, a globally renowned provider of dynamic demand-responsive technology, the new journey planning app aims to offer seamless and convenient access to public transportation on the Isle of Wight and across Southampton. To access these services, users can download the “FYT and SCIA Booking” app from the App Store or Google Play, select their local service and book their journey..

This innovation in community transport within the Solent region has been made possible through the support of the Solent Future Transport Zone (FTZ) programme, funded by the UK Department for Transport. Collaborating closely with FYT Bus and SciA Dial-a-Ride, the Solent FTZ will monitor and assess the advantages of on-demand transportation solutions. This valuable information will contribute to shaping transport policies at a national level.

Introducing the “FYT Bus On-Demand Service”

The on-demand FYT Bus, also known as the “Route E afternoon service” or West Wight FYT Bus, will be running only in the afternoons and aims to cater to the transportation needs of residents and tourists on the picturesque, west side of the Isle of Wight. This cutting-edge on-demand service is designed to offer convenience and flexibility, with the inclusion of virtual stops and several fixed points served during each ride. Passengers will experience a new level of convenience, allowing them to reach their destinations seamlessly.

Enhanced Accessibility with the “Southampton Dial-a-Ride Service”

In addition to FYT’s Route E afternoon service, Padam Mobility is delighted to provide Southampton Dial-a-Ride members with access to the “Southampton Dial-a-Ride Service” within the same app. This service, offered in collaboration with the SCiA Group is set to improve public transport accessibility in Southampton and the surrounding areas by offering real-time bookings across a website, call centre and mobile app.

Padam Mobility’s cutting-edge technology and expertise will be harnessed to enhance efficiency, streamline booking processes, and simplify management for users of the Southampton Dial a Ride Service. Passengers can look forward to an improved and more user-friendly experience, making travel within the city and beyond more accessible than ever before.


About Padam Mobility:

Founded in 2014, Padam Mobility provides digital on-demand public transport solutions to transform peri-urban and rural areas and provide better access to mobility services for all.

To achieve this, Padam Mobility provides a software suite with intelligent and flexible solutions that better adapt public transport services to real demand, especially in sparsely populated areas. The software suite is based on powerful algorithms and artificial intelligence.

Public transport operators, public authorities and private companies trust Padam Mobility when it comes to improving access to territories, enhancing mobility services and optimising operations. The company accompanies its clients on the road to operational excellence while promoting environmentally friendly mobility.

Padam Mobility was acquired by Siemens Mobility in May 2021. The company is headquartered in Paris.

About Solent Transport:

Solent Transport is changing the way the public travels in the Solent area; making it greener, healthier and economically stronger than it’s ever been before. Through the delivery of transport solutions, Solent Transport provides leadership, strategy and direction to support sustainable economic growth in the Solent area. Originally established in 2007, Solent Transport is an apolitical partnership between the councils of the Isle of Wight, Hampshire County, Portsmouth and Southampton. In collaboration with the local community, business, government and transport operators, Solent Transport undertakes research; develops transport policy and strategy; submits and supports funding bids; and lobbies for transport improvements that will benefit everyone.

About the Solent Future Transport Zone:

Solent Transport won £29m from the Department for Transport (DfT) to implement innovative future transport solutions around personal mobility and freight movements. The funding means the Solent area will benefit from several innovative transport solutions including: smartphone apps for planning and paying for sustainable journeys demand, e-bike share scheme, and new approaches to freight distribution, including drone freight trials for NHS deliveries across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. Funding will be allocated to different projects across the region. The Solent Future Transport Zone programme proposes to address local challenges such as high levels of car usage and the environmental impacts of freight movement within Solent’s urban areas. It will do this by delivering a series of complementary projects within two key themes: Personal Mobility and Sustainable Urban Logistics.


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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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Accessing rural bus services – how can we ensure equity?

Article by Beate Kubitz

Transport provision and population density tend to correlate closely – and in some ways, this makes a lot of sense. Services are more likely to be well used where there are large populations within a short walk of them. But what about areas where people are more thinly and evenly spread?

Many areas of the UK are populated in a pattern of small villages, spread out over large areas, rather than in high-density clusters. There may be several potential destinations for shopping, education and work, and the resulting travel patterns traced out between multiple origins and destinations show few highly utilised corridors. Bus services tend to be difficult to sustain because passenger numbers are low – both because of the absolute numbers of people within the area and also because of a high rate of car utilisation amongst those people. The net result means that the carbon footprint per person is far too high.

The challenge of creating frequent, regular fixed line services in areas like this that serve a high proportion of the population is one of the reasons that Hertfordshire developed a Demand-Responsive Transport service, HertsLynx, for one poorly-served area.


East Hertfordshire is an area with a relatively low population density, with 316 persons/km2. The neighbouring authority, North Hertfordshire is a little denser, with 355 persons/km2 [1]. However, neither authority has many large population clusters, with 40% of North Hertfordshire’s population focused outside the three towns of Baldock, Hitchin and Letchworth, whilst in East Hertfordshire around 57% are outside the two towns of Bishop’s Stortford and Ware.

There are areas where this pattern is exaggerated. The zone bounded by Royston in the north, Stevenage in the west and Bishop’s Stortford in the east, is home to around 50,000 people. with people distributed across the area in isolated dwellings, small hamlets and villages with only one small town, Buntingford (population 6,844).

The area surrounding Buntingford is very dispersed. Villages consist of just 30-40 houses. Many people travel within the area or to jobs, services and rail links located in surrounding towns: Stevenage, Letchworth, Hitchin, Baldock, Royston and Bishop’s Stortford. Two corridor bus routes cross the area but are infrequent and, before the establishment of HertsLynx, most people in the area had little or no access to public transport.

At the same time, analysis of transport stops in the area show them to be sparse. When it comes to bus stops that are served hourly [2], only a small population segment is covered.

This notion of frequency is important for people it both empowers those dependent on public transport and enables drivers to see public transport as an alternative.


Whilst a 30-minute frequency is more standard as the ‘freedom metric’ in cities, it has been adjusted down for rural areas where there is more tolerance in general of longer waits.

The map shows the areas which are walkable in 5, 10 and 15 minutes to these bus stops, a tiny proportion of the zone.

The large clusters in the east cover Stevenage and Royston (not part of either authority but included as a transport destination for those within the area), Hitchin and Letchworth, whilst the south-west cluster covers Bishop’s Stortford. The only places within the rural area that see buses with these frequencies are Buntingford, Standon, Ashwell (and Ashwell Station).

The net consequence is that the vast majority of the rural population of the area cannot access these bus stops, even via a 15-minute walk – an estimated 40,000 of the 50,000 people living within the area. Viewed from this perspective, it is unsurprising that people living in the area drive further and more often than average [3].

It’s also a huge issue for thoe people who do not drive or have access to a car. Poor services and long distances to bus stops represent barriers to accessing opportunities, amenities and leisure. The consequences of this can then be linked to increased loneliness and other associated costs to the local community and economy.

However, solutions for providing alternative transport in low density populations are tricky. The spread of homes – the origins of most journeys – and their key destinations; the jobs, schools, colleges, services and leisure facilities make the creation of cost-efficient routes difficult. There are multiple journey combinations, with relatively small percentages of the population making each variation, often spread across the day.

Services designed to connect people

To create services which are accessible to more of the population, bus stops need to be distributed across the area. For traditional models of bus services, this is difficult to do. However, for on-demand bus services, it is more attainable. The map below shows the distribution and walkability of the virtual bus stops for the HertsLynx DDRT service.

The image shows actual stops of the on-demand bus service launched in the zone, with walking isochrones at 5, 10 and 15 minutes. Stops in Royston, Bishop’s Stortford, Letchworth, Hitchin and Stevenage are ‘key hubs’ and lie outside the zone served. They are interchanges and can’t be used to travel within the towns.


The HertsLynx service was commissioned by Hertfordshire County Council funded by the DfT Rural Mobility Fund and launched in 2021, with three minibuses.

HertsLynx service is designed to cover a higher percentage of the population, enabling many more people to walk to meet buses from most of the hamlets and villages.

Initially journeys were from ‘free floating’ areas to key hub towns but increasingly, journeys are being made within the zone and the buses being used for trips like GP visits, social calls and shopping. School and college students have proved to be enthusiastic users with up to 12% of daily trips serving the college north of Buntingford. These students would previously have been reliant on lifts from family and friends.

It exceeded its year one target of 12,000 trips within 10 months. By the end of the first year, over 350 trips per week were made on the service. Many people have become regular users, booking ahead to ensure that they can reach their destinations in a timely fashion.


[1] ONS

[2] Jarrett Walker, Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit can Enrich our Communities and our Lives, 2011

[3] Morgan, Malcolm, Anable, Jillian, & Lucas, Karen. (2021). A place-based carbon calculator for England. Presented at the 29th Annual GIS Research UK Conference (GISRUK), Cardiff, Wales, UK (Online): Zenodo.



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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.

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Subsidies per passenger – the £3 challenge

A recent audience question at a webinar outlined the extent of the challenge local transport faces in the UK:

Councils often use metrics as subsidy per passenger journey as a means of deciding value for money. In Kent, the figure is £3 and a number of routes are potentially to be withdrawn for exceeding this figure. Is DRT viable within such a limit?

Obviously, there’s no straightforward reply. The routes that fall to councils to fund are, by their nature, the ones that bus operators cannot make commercially viable. The question is, are they ‘a little unviable’ (meet the up to £3 / passenger journey threshold) or ‘very unviable’ (require more – and in some instances – much more subsidy).

In most cases the problem is dealing with the network in route by route way. A gradual process of removal of unprofitable bits (entire routes or service hours) erodes the remaining services and creates a constant downward spiral.

The move to look at networks as a whole in the context of Bus Service Improvement Plans and Enhanced Partnerships could potentially move the focus and put these routes in context. This would help evaluate whether a point to point route or an area based DRT service (potentially wrapping more than one lower utilisation route into a single operation) is a better approach.

Increase passengers

Wherever possible, we look – as broadly as possible – at passenger groups, vehicle numbers and  operators to determine the optimal service.

The questions we ask are ‘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?’.

The first approach, driving up patronage, is most likely to work in densely populated areas. The ball-park estimate for DRT to be fully commercial is an average of 7-8 people per vehicle throughout the day. However, because it uses smaller vehicles, DRT doesn’t have the same capacity for higher loads and peak fares to cover off-peak times, so the vehicles have to be matched more closely to demand. In services at larger scales, we can use data to plan vehicle deployment and keep the utilisation rates as high as possible.

In addition, encouraging advance booking really helps with both increasing passenger numbers and operational planning. Pre-booking means people can plan their days in advance and depend on the service. The information from pre-bookings ensure that the operator has good information ahead of the start of each day. We see around 75% of passengers booking in advance, which validates our expectation that people use this as reliable public transport rather than a taxi equivalent.

Segmented, not fragmented

The second is to drive down costs per person by ensuring that the services provide transport to people from different groups and with different travel needs. This is considering passengers as segments of the travelling public, rather than as fragmented groups.

In most cases this requires an honest look at services and identifying where they are siloed. For instance we’ve seen several cases of Ring & Ride access services being operated in parallel with DDRT services because different funding streams procure different resources, and the services don’t speak to each other.

Back during Total Transport pilots, over capacity was identified by authorities and there was a huge desire to maximise utilisation of vehicles. Whilst there was some success in reducing requirements it proved difficult to execute sophisticated ideas about fleet optimisation or combining use cases and we still saw costs per passenger trip of over £20 in some cases.

However, the capability of the technology has come a long way in the last 3 years. The Padam Mobility platform is able to combine multiple operators into a single service. Our sophisticated software means we can also 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. This can radically cut the subsidy required. We now have use cases in which we blend dial-a-ride, DRT and other forms of transport to reduce the overall spend for Local Authorities.

In one area we combine DRT with home to school transport using the same vehicles. This reduces the the cost of the home-to-school from around £10 per head down to £5. Adding in further deployments which increases the utilisation could lower this further. In Strasbourg, we blend door to door ‘paratransit’ with bus stop to bus stop DRT, using the same fleet. We are now in advanced discussions with one UK authority to launch a similar service this year.

There has also been a reluctance to register some commuter shuttle style DRT – often serving previously unserved business parks and out of town distribution centres – as part of the wider public transport network. Whilst this imposes additional constraints on the service provider, Enhanced Partnerships are an opportunity to work out how to make the broadening of registration worthwhile in order to increase the numbers of people served. Bringing these services into wider use through integration onto a publicly managed DRT platform could improve services relatively cheaply.

Optimise multi-operator services

It’s increasingly worthwhile to look at how DDRT platform technologies – such as Padam Mobility – can host efficient cross contract services. A sophisticated DRT platform can 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. Padam Mobility has combined multiple operators in this way for the Île-de-France Mobilités service that connects people who live on the outer edges of suburbs beyond the Paris metropolitan area. We observe instances where the work of 20 minibuses can now be done by 12, which obviously implies significant savings.

So whilst it’s difficult to bring costs per passenger journey right down in isolation, we’ve found that a holistic approach will bear dividends.

In the current climate, as local authorities and operators work on networks together, there is the possibility to drive down per passenger subsidies to within the £3 limit – whilst still improving services and increasing the number of people who have the option to take the bus.


This article might also interest you: Integrating DDRT into BSIPS – Six Practical Tips 

Learn more about Padam Mobility 

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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 

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How does Demand Responsive Transport help to reduce one’s mental load?

Mental load

Connecting people and making it easier for everyone to commute are the objectives of Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) proposed by Padam Mobility. To this extent, this mobility solution can alleviate the daily tasks that make up the mental workload. According to Nicole Brais, a researcher at the University of Laval, Quebec, the mental load corresponds to “management, organisation and planning work that is at once intangible, unavoidable and constant in order to manage domestic tasks. Thus, a real impact on daily life lies in the constancy of this burden.

The mental load falls mainly on women 

Women spend an average of almost 4 hours a day managing domestic tasks, and handle 71% of parental tasks in the household. These tasks can be directly linked to transportation: doing groceries, dropping off and picking up children at/from school, and all the small tasks of daily life.

DRT represents a simple and effective solution to reduce the weight of these daily tasks. On the occasion of an experimentation of the La Saire TAD service in the Cotentin, a parent told us:

I think I can speak for all the mothers in the room who no longer need to drop off  their children at school, you have changed our lives in La Saire!”

People with Reduced Mobility also face an increased mental load in their daily lives

In a world that sometimes seems to be designed by and for able-bodied people, finding suitable modes of transport can be particularly difficult for people with reduced mobility.

It is therefore important to take into account the specific needs of PRMs with, for instance, a door-to-door transport service that takes into account the time it requires to settle into adapted vehicles and the presence of specific equipment, if necessary. In addition, the accessibility of the transport offer involves the right to movement, and therefore to spontaneous movement. Getting to the city without having to plan one’s journey weeks in advance is undeniably a factor in alleviating the mental load for the PRM public.

The Paratransit solutions developed by Padam Mobility can be booked in real time or in advance, in order to satisfy the desire and need for spontaneity in everyday life. They are configured to take care of each user according to the specificities of their mobility and allow for flexible travel from address to address.

Solutions that respond to the problems of the 11 million caregivers in France, and in the world. 

Caregivers provide day-to-day support to a dependent relative. These situations often require constant travelling between health centres, the homes of the carers and the homes of their dependent relatives, for instance (as presented in this article). This context can lead to reliance on private means of travel, particularly in peri-urban and rural areas where fixed lignes are more limited.

Padam Mobility’s solutions allow a caregiver to make a booking and the caregiver can even receive specific notifications regarding the pick-up of their relative.  These configurations facilitate the daily organisation of caregivers by involving them intuitively in the movement of their dependent relatives.

In rural and peri-urban areas, a mental charge is hidden in the day-to-day travel needs of all

Inequality of access to city centres, particularly in rural and peri-urban areas, creates mental burdens for all types of population: young people without a car, parents who have to drop off their relatives and children, and elderly people who fear driving alone private vehicles. All these constraints create anxiety and an insidious mental workload. A mental pressure that DRT sometimes helps to reduce, as a high school student using the Résa’Tao DRT service in Orléans explained to us:

At least (my parents) are not worried because they know that if I have a problem, I always have Résa’Tao”. 

What about the driver’s mental load?

Commuting, including home-to-work mobility, is a mobility in which the mental load is hardly ever mentioned. However, mental workload and driving are directly linked, as the latter impacts on drivers’ concentration and increases risky driving behaviour. Driving and its constraints add to the already existing mental load. Academic studies have been conducted to scientifically measure the mental load of driving and how to limit it.

Artificial intelligence, which enables the optimisation of rides, plays a crucial role in easing the mental burden on professional drivers of DRT vehicles. Indeed, through an ergonomic interface, drivers are guided step by step and no longer have to worry about the route to follow or the passengers to pick up or drop off. For passengers, formerly car drivers, DRT also makes their daily lives easier by freeing them from the hassles frequently encountered on the road: congestion, accidents, parking, refuelling, etc. 


About Padam Mobility 

Check out this article: Loi LOM : ce qui change pour les personnes à mobilité réduite 

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Uses and Limits of Paratransit Services: A comparative Study between France and Germany

Etude TPMR

Since the founding of Padam Mobility in 2014, our ambition has been to provide mobility services accessible to all, especially to people who do not have a wide range of choices available to them or who rely on outside assistance to be mobile.

We try to develop and design software components and features in such a way that they support people with limited or reduced mobility (PRM) as best as possible on their everyday journeys. For example, by being able to specify special aids, such as a wheelchair, automatically when booking a ride, or by making door-to-door bookings possible.

This summer, we wanted to find out more and therefore asked a number of people for their personal opinion. This yielded very interesting and insightful answers from a total of 48 different people in two of our main markets: France (F) and Germany (G). Most of these people (97.1% F; 84.6% G) are themselves affected by reduced mobility, others (2.9% F; 7.7% G) are involved in this issue in a professional context or are related to a person with reduced mobility (7.7% G).

The survey

The survey was conducted online between May and July in France and between June and August in Germany. Participants were recruited in a similar way. We contacted associations representing people with disabilities, dedicated Facebook groups and online platforms, and approached individuals from our private circle. The questionnaires were filled out online and anonymously.

The respondents

Most of the participants, both in France and in Germany, were between 25 and 49 years old (47.1% F; 50% G). It is noticeable that, especially in France, many people had no job or were househusbands/housewives (38.2%). In Germany, half of all respondents (50%) were in permanent employment, while 35.7% were already retired. Especially people who are no longer firmly integrated into working life, often have a hard time staying connected if they do not have an intact social environment. Suitable mobility solutions are an important component in this context that helps them to overcome the barrier of participating more actively in life.

However, the mere availability of public transport is often not sufficient. Most of the respondents have physical disabilities (85.3% F; 76, 9% G). Travelling by means of public transport is therefore often challenging. Lack of boarding aids or non-accessible infrastructure can turn journeys that are not a big deal for “non-impaired people” into a real challenge.

The spatial distribution of respondents is also interesting. In France, 41.2% of all respondents said they lived in a city with 100,000+ inhabitants (another 23.5% lived only about 20 kilometres from a city of this size). In Germany, the picture is similar, with 45.5% saying they live in a city of 100,000+, while 36.4% live 50 or more kilometres from a city of this size. This is a very interesting situation for the evaluation. Although it is not possible to determine which answer came from which participant, it is possible to deduce from the other statements whether certain conditions are clearly polarised, i.e. whether they are different in large cities and in rural areas, or whether the two areas are similar to each other.

Use of technology

As a software provider and, in particular, a manufacturer of user software, it was of course very important for us to find out how confident the respondents are in using a smartphone. Rides with our services can be booked via three different channels: Booking website, user app and via a call centre. Making these booking channels accessible and constantly improving them is one of our main concerns. Since we will return later in the questionnaire to the question of which technical aids our participants consider useful and which features they still miss, it is of great value that almost everyone among the respondents is familiar with the use of a smartphone (97.1 % F; 92.9 % G). 

Mobility behaviour

We tried to find out more about the reasons why respondents are mostly on the move in everyday life. The most frequent answers in this respect in France were administrative appointments, doctor’s visits, etc. (76.5 %) and general shopping (79.4 %), while in Germany most respondents said they were visiting friends and family (84.6%) or pursuing leisure activities (76.9%). It is interesting to note that in the context of this survey, mobility is particularly associated with everyday leisure activities, lesser with e.g. commuting or tourism. This is an important sign that public transport, especially in rural areas, should not concentrate too much on school and work transport; people should also be given the opportunity to easily get from A to B flexibly during off-peak times.

Accompaniment of paratransit users

For people who are dependent on assistance for a variety of reasons, especially when travelling, it is important to ensure that this assistance is provided. We firmly believe that technical solutions can also help simplify processes of, for example, declaring accompanying persons, so that, for example, a person can be taken along free of charge with ease. We, therefore, wanted to know from the participants of our questionnaire what their habits are regarding “accompanied travelling”. Are they being accompanied? If so, how often? And are there any aspects that could be improved?

The answers revealed that professional help, such as caregivers, is rarely used and that in both France (70%) and Germany (48.9%), most people in need of assistance are accompanied by people they trust, family members or friends.

The choice of transport

The fact that in our survey most people with reduced mobility are not accompanied by professional assistants is of course also related to the choice of transport. Specialised paratransit services are rarely used in both countries. Among all respondents, only 5% of the respondents in France stated that they used paratransit services, compared to 21.43% in Germany. These figures are striking, as the number of those who need special equipment on their rides, such as a wheelchair, is rather high (55.9% F; 57.14% G).

Many of the respondents prefer to resort to their own car, whether specially adapted to their disability or not. With regard to generally available public transport, individuals stated that “public transport and trains are not acceptable for a wheelchair user”. Accessibility also ranked high for other people who used the free text fields to give personal opinions.

Another important point is the issue of “independence” and “offer”. A rather patchy offer, no planning security, etc. makes it difficult for the respondents to do without their individual car:

“The car can be used individually

“You are more spontaneous than with public transport”

“[The car] is the fastest and most flexible

“Because we are more independent with the car (we used to take the train more often in the past)”

Others, in turn, spoke in favour of public transport and explained why they did not use a dedicated paratransit service as follows:

“Public transportation is more convenient than calling an adapted transportation which you have to book a day or more in advance depending on the city”

“You have to plan a trip in advance

“Constraining schedules, high costs”

“They ask you to book the services at least 48 hours in advance“.

Spontaneity, flexibility and ease of use, for example, are attributes that tend to be ascribed to the private car and were mentioned remarkably often. If transport services for PRM become similarly easy to use, and if it is ensured that the required equipment can be taken along without any problems, or if availability is generally enhanced, this will be major steps towards offering PRM a similarly comfortable experience with on-demand transport as people without constraints can enjoy.

Expectations on paratransit service

Although most of the participants do not use paratransit services, they still have a lot of expectations about how to improve them. Here are the most important demands at a glance:

1) Being able to book a ride in real-time

2) A better-equipped fleet 

3) A better overall service offer

4) Better connection with other existing transport services, including non-disabled transport services

5) Improved booking interfaces and passenger information 

Expectations on digital tools

A concern of ours is to closely examine the technical tools that paratransit users have at their disposal or which they still lack. In the questionnaire, we, therefore, asked what expectations Paratransit users have regarding digital features. The most frequently mentioned answers are listed below:

1) Information about the trip in advance and in real-time

2) Possibility to contact the driver directly

3) Information on the accessibility of public places near the itinerary 

4) Having the possibility to rate, comment on the service and consult other users’ comments


Mobility is a basic need of all people, which, in a well-functioning society, should be made available to everyone in the best possible way. However, PRMs experience difficulties. From non-accessible vehicles to non-adapted digital tools, stumbling blocks lurk in many places and can significantly limit the user experience. This can reach the point where PRMs stop relying on transport services entirely, preferring to use an individual vehicle whenever possible.

A particularly common complaint has been that paratransit services often have to be booked well in advance, making it impossible to go on spontaneous trips. In terms of technology, the provision of real-time information is still lacking. Indeed, nothing is more unsettling than having to wait significantly longer than indicated for the vehicle to arrive.

Of course, due to the heterogeneity of our respondents, especially with regard to their place of residence, it is not possible to give specific tips for certain areas. However, the expressed dissatisfaction among the participants shows that there is room for improvement. 

At Padam Mobility, we offer consultations and simulations for such purposes, which facilitate decision-making on a wide range of resource deployments. In this way, and by working closely with the people concerned, we can gradually make it possible to provide mobility services and technical features that make a real difference to PRMs.



This article might also interest you: Accessibility – How barrier-free is Public Transport in the UK?

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