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Accessibility – how barrier-free is public transport in the UK ?

TPMR Royaume-Uni

Accessibility in public spaces – especially in public transport – is unfortunately still a major struggle for people with reduced mobility. 

Yet it should by no means be treated as a niche issue: In the UK alone, there are 13.9 million people who rely on accessible public transport for a variety of reasons. 

And it is not only for people with congenital or permanent disabilities that the prospect of greater accessibility means a better quality of life: people of all ages and conditions can be affected by a disability at some point in their lives: the teenager that got injured playing sports, the young parents who struggle with a pram or the elderly who have trouble climbing stairs. 

The trend of an ageing population is set to become even more acute in the coming years, with 1 in 4 UK residents predicted to be aged 65 and above by 2050. Poorly accessible local transport would contribute to intensifying the already huge problem of loneliness. 

The British have recognised the issue: in 2018, the government published a strategy paper entitled “Inclusive Transport Strategy: achieving equal access for disabled people” (in short IST). The overall goal is to make public transport ( referring to all available transport options, from buses to planes) more accessible for people with disabilities by 2030

 

This policy paper pays particular attention to the following 5 points:

1. Raising awareness of passenger rights and how to enforce them

It happens that people with disabilities feel unfairly treated, for example when promised assistance is not provided or other aspects do not function in the same way as non-disabled people can expect. One example is the fare, which should not rise on any form of transport (bus, taxi, and so on) simply because an electric wheelchair has to be carried, for instance. 

The UK government promises to provide better assistance throughout the journey and, if a passenger wants to raise a complaint, to simplify communication channels so that he or she can easily express his or her views

2. Better training of staff

In order for public transport staff to be more responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities, the British governments are encouraging transport operators to provide training to their staff. In November 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) therefore introduced a ‘disability awareness training package’, which was developed together with the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC). 

The aim is not only to increase the use of public transport by people with mobility impairments through more professional assistance but also to raise awareness among all other passengers through a public campaign about the fact that discrimination is a criminal offence and can be punished accordingly.

3. Better Information 

In 2018, the DfT published an interactive map, initially tailored to railway stations, to make it easier for passengers to get information about the accessibility of specific stops with just one click. This map is also specifically adapted to the needs of visually impaired people.

This tool is designed to give people with disabilities the chance to plan their journey more freely and to give them a confident feeling as they are reassured that they might not suddenly get stuck at any point in the travel chain.

4. Inclusive (physical) infrastructure

This aspect is probably one of the most important for people with disabilities when it comes to travelling without barriers and difficulties. 

Of course, overcoming barriers created by missing and incomprehensible passenger information is also important in this context. In its strategy paper, the DfT, therefore, announces, among other investments in the existing physical infrastructure, to significantly improve audio-visual information in public buses and thus enable people to plan their journeys more independently.

5. Future of inclusive transport

In order to continue to provide relevant mobility solutions in the future and to be able to respond optimally to the needs of people with mobility impairments, a large-scale study was carried out in 2020 that focused on the areas of micro-transit, buses, taxis and rental cars, as well as Mobility as a Service. All these areas and even more aspects were considered against the background of inclusivity. Further results can be found in detail here.

It is important to note that the topic of inclusivity must be comprehensively considered, especially when we talk about future mobility trends. One important point, for example, is the accessibility of mobility services regardless of the physical infrastructure. Since many of the new mobility services can be booked via digital media, such as mobile apps, barriers may arise again, for example, because older people are generally less likely to use a smartphone. These and other barriers need to be taken into account and addressed.

 

To document progress towards more inclusive public transport, the UK government regularly publishes news on its website. This strategy is certainly an important step, not only to make life easier for many people but also to show “We see you, we hear you and we want to achieve a more inclusive society”.

Accessibility – A society-wide responsibility

However, other barriers cannot simply be improved by construction measures: Tolerance and support.

In the UK, one in four people with disabilities say that they feel uncomfortable travelling on public transport because of ‘negative reactions’ from other passengers and therefore avoid using public transport as a result; a further 40% say they often encounter difficulties when trying to travel by public transport (referring to rail). 

These figures are alarming and should remind us of the importance of involving those who are affected in decision-making processes, giving them a voice and asking how the public transport travel experience can be improved for them. 

In addition, it is important to be aware that it is not only physical barriers but also the gazes and comments of others that prevent people with disabilities from moving freely in public. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each and everyone to be sensitive to the needs of others in our daily lives and to break down barriers where we can.

 

This article might also interest you: DRT – a mobility solution adapted to people with reduced mobility

Find out more about Padam Mobility 

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Reconnecting rural territories in the UK : Interview with Stuart Eccles, DRT Supervisor at Lincolnshire County Council

Lincolshire County Council has been operating a DRT for 20 years. Recently, the county switched to Padam Mobility’s technology to operate the service. Gregoire Bonnat, CEO of Padam Mobility, interviewed Stuart Eccles, DRT Supervisor, on the impact of this change on their service and users.

What is Call Connect ?

Call Connect is the bus service that we use in Lincolnshire, a very rural county, which has historical transport difficulties just with the nature of how disparate the villages are and how difficult it is to get from point A to point B.

Those villages are away from the main transport hubs. We have had, for the last 20 years, a Demand-Responsive Transport system in place to ensure that every settlement has adequate access to public transport, rather than having very long bus routes that could take an hour and a half to get from the villages into the main towns.        

Who are the users and what kind of needs does the DRT answer for them?

The majority of users are elderly and probably don’t drive themselves. They find it difficult to walk to access where main bus routes exist. We also carry quite a number of students because, just as it can be difficult for people to get into town, getting access to schools and doctors can also be difficult. 

I think one of the big benefits is where the small Demand-Responsive vehicles can go, because we can provide a more personalized service and offer enhanced transport needs for those who struggle to physically access the vehicle.

Having the DRT service makes their lives so much easier.

If it were not for the on-demand service, people would use their private car. Are there alternatives for them?

They would struggle because taxis are very expensive in a rural location, to the point that it’s probably cost prohibitive for them. So, if Call Connect wasn’t there for a large number of rural communities, they would maybe overly rely on neighbours and friends, having the DRT service makes their lives so much easier.

Call Connect has been there for 20 years and you felt the need to change something. What changed from an operational point of view?

The technology and what exists out there has moved on quite drastically, whereas we haven’t necessarily engaged with that as much as we would have liked. 

The main goal for us is trying to make it as easy as possible for people to access the service. Today, everything is very much mobile app driven, and we try to make the services easy for people to access especially for the younger market. For them, having to phone to make the bookings is not how they do things. So trying to bring that into our services is a key feature for us and we’re hoping that we can engage with that market and get them to use public transport more often. I think having that freedom is a massive win for them, to be able to control their own destiny and control their own access to transport.

We’re hoping that the net result is to make it easier for the existing passengers to use it but also to bring in new people.

Is it easier for the drivers, too ?

For the drivers, the system is very intuitive. It makes their lives infinitely easier because they can see the information in an easy to digest format, especially with the navigation options that come with the app, in case there are new locations they haven’t been to before, or if they’re not quite sure where they are.

Do you expect it will also have an impact on ridership?

We’re hoping so. When we first started 20 years ago, we only had the option of telephone bookings and that’s all we had for a long time. When we introduced online booking through a web page, we actually saw an increase in passengers. Actually, the app gives passengers the option to do it outside of normal booking hours. That might entice more people in. With the app, users can see all the options that they might have in a day and they can make an informed decision on their needs. So yes, we’re hoping that the net result is to make it easier for the existing passengers to use it but also to bring in new people.

It might even change the behaviour of users and how they organise their day…

I think you’re right. We’ve seen in the initial days that the bookings occur closer to the time of travel, which is interesting because that again gives them greater freedom. The service has always offered up to 7 days in advance, which is perfect if the passenger has regular patterns of things he does, like school and work. But if he’s having to plan going shopping a week ahead because that’s when he can get transport, that’s quite difficult and quite limiting. If passengers can book the next day or even better on the same day, it will change people’s habits. That gives users a great deal of freedom because they can control their lives much better. If you had the option to go on the same day and you had the confidence in knowing you can get your booking, that’s brilliant, especially here in the UK where the weather can change at the drop of a hat. 

The granularity of the data is huge, being able to see the number of passengers per hour across a day, across a week, gives us a greater insight into how people are using the service and when they’re using it. That gives us a good theory as to how the service needs to develop, we can see live the needs of the passengers.

I guess on one hand there are some people who are happy that the system changes and some other people are just happy with the way they used it until today. Is it equally important for you to maintain that? 

Absolutely! There are still a large number of people who are still accessing the service through the call centre, and that will always remain. For some people who access it that way, it might be one of the only calls that they make in the week. So having that human interaction for them is very important, having a little discussion, because of how isolated they are in rural communities. It’s definitely a balancing act. It’s bringing the service forward and up to date with modern technology and also maintaining the level of service that our consumer base has been used to.

How are you using it the data generated by the service?

The data that we get in at our level is one of the biggest wins that we’ve got out of this transition to Padam Mobility, so far. We’ve got greater visibility of how the service is performing. The granularity of the data is huge, being able to see the number of passengers per hour across a day, across a week, gives us a greater insight into how people are using the service and when they’re using it. That gives us a good theory as to how the service needs to develop, we can see live the needs of the passengers.

The big one for me is the map flows feature, where you can see graphically all the flows that exist and it shows what areas are being utilised and whether we need to have a promotional drive or change something in the service.

It’s just being able to see that data in a single place in an easy fashion, we’re used to having data thrown back into Excel documents and manipulating it and trying to find some meaning in it, which is quite laborious and intensive. But how it is now on the statistics is phenomenal. The insights it gives is brilliant. 

One of the really interesting features is the trip feedback (users can rate and give feedback on each trip) because historically, you’d probably only see the two extremes, the very good or the very bad, because that’s what people would like to tell you about. But now we see the whole spectrum. The constant feedback the passengers can give us on how the trip went, what they liked about it, what they didn’t, is great because it gives us an opportunity to go back to our operators and drivers to inform them that they’re doing a good job, which is very much appreciated. 

There are many things happening around mobility in the UK and especially rural mobility. There seems to be a new ambition. 

In the past year, the Department for Transport has put up a lot of funding for rural mobility. So whilst in Lincolnshire we’ve had a well-established DRT network for 20 years, a lot of places have looked at DRT and have tried to implement it with varying degrees of success. But now the government is pushing and suggesting it. 

I think the last year has shown everybody that transport can be delivered in a different way. Lots of authorities and transport providers have utilised the technology that exists for DRT, and seen that that might be a model that’s going to work when we come out of the covid-19 situation. 

I think the industry is going to be a long way back from where we were and we might have to provide services in a different way. There’s a shift that is occurring and the technology allows people to interact with it in a much easier and a much more manageable way. The technology is now hugely different than it was five years ago and it’s so much easier for people to put a service in, on short notice.

The timeline of this pilot is also quite interesting because it comes in when the UK is actually opening up again after this very difficult covid period…

Yes, it’s been a difficult year for everyone. We’ve soft launched the service to try and embed it amongst our users. They have been using it throughout lockdown just so they can get used to it. 

But in terms of timing for promotion and pushing this service and saying to the public “This is here” is quite timely because it actually then gives the confidence to people to say “Yes we can get out and we can we can travel again”. They can go out and interact in a way that they used to, which seems like a lifetime ago now. 

DRT isn’t necessarily the cheapest method of delivering transport. However, it does provide the best value for money in certain locations.

There is also another transition which is sustainability and the UK demonstrates a strong ambition for this as well. But this is happening locally, right ?

For us, we actually partner with a few local authorities to the south of the county and we’ve looked at pooling resources and trying to make the service sustainable long term, because DRT isn’t necessarily the cheapest method of delivering transport. However, it does provide the best value for money in certain locations. Also the carbon footprint is lower because you’re only running services when people want to use it. 

You’ve also got the option to look at potential for electric or hybrid vehicles, which also feeds into the sustainability model and the environmental plan that the government and local authorities are heavily looking at. The technology can help drive that as well because without the tech behind, it’s difficult to implement. 

So great future then for Call Connect ?

Absolutely yes! It’s been a long time coming. We’re really pleased with how the pilot is working and I’m very confident that it will bring new life to certain parts of the service and encourage more people to use it which is absolutely what we want to achieve. 

 

This article might interest you : Public Transport in United Kingdom: What’s next?

Find out more about Padam Mobility.

 

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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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Mobility-as-a-Service and DRT : towards a sustainable platform

Mobility-as-as-service

Mobility-as-a-Service is perhaps the trendiest concept in the mobility sector. This concept, sometimes misused, tends to be associated with the image of an ultra-connected city, with a wide range of infrastructures and innovative transport offers, while sometimes ignoring the suburban areas.

However, MaaS should be a way to promote sustainable and inclusive mobility, by highlighting public transport and shared mobility offers.

Integrating Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT), a recognized solution for serving low-density areas, into a more comprehensive MaaS solution that includes areas such as peri-urban and rural areas would be a real paradigm shift in terms of equal access to mobility services.

Mobility-as-a-service: innovating for better decision-making

MaaS allows users to access all available modes of transport (train, bus, tramway, DRT, bike, e-scooter, ride-hailing, walking…) on the same mobile app with a focus on intermodality and multimodality, and on reducing the use of polluting modes of transport such as individual cars.

As the vehicle autonomy classification, MaaS presents several levels of integration of transport offers.  These levels increasingly assist the user’s mobility. Ideally, the aim is to offer a fully integrated multimodal experience, without any rupture, and with a single ticket (level 5/5).

The Mobility-as-a-Service initiative : a multidimensional opportunity for public authorities

  • For Public Transport Authorities (PTAs), MaaS is a powerful public policy tool. It must ensure the common interest in the use and control of territories, and propose an improved model of urban and suburban public transport. MaaS is also a valuable tool to ensure that new mobility offers are complementary to public transport, rather than in competition with it.
  • It is in the best interest of public authorities to adopt an active attitude towards MaaS. Why? To achieve goals in reducing private car use and pollution, and to ensure that public transportation infrastructure is the backbone of the service.

Beyond the cities, Mobility-as-a-Service must provide peri-urban areas with access to relevant mobility solutions.

Integration of Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) in MaaS : a step forward towards a sustainable MaaS

Integrating DRT into a more global MaaS that includes sparsely populated areas such as peri-urban and rural areas highlights the need to address the mobility disparity between large urban areas and the rest of the territory.

DRT facilitates economic and social inclusion

The DRT developed by Padam Mobility in low-density suburban areas is a great opportunity in territories in need of a new impetus. It allows operators to optimize bus journeys in these areas to meet non-uniform demand.

The objective ? Reduce the polarity of transportation networks around major cities and connect remote areas to existing infrastructures  to facilitate access to dynamic areas and employment hubs, for example.

Promoting responsible MaaS also means considering all types of user profiles (working people, students, elderly people, people with disabilities, etc.) and their specific needs. It also means offering alternatives to digital technology for users who do not have a smartphone.

DRT is able to address these needs :

  • by providing services accessible to people with reduced mobility (PRM), tailored to different types of populations (young, active or senior)
  • by allowing reservations via several channels, including those addressed to less connected users.

Increased flexibility to meet changing mobility habits

A more global Maas must address the need to make transport more flexible, whether it is public or active (cycling, walking). Travel reduction, teleworking, e-shopping, the health crisis is a catalyst of this trend. The solution delivered by DRT emphasizes the need for more flexible public transport at the dawn of a profound change in mobility habits.

More data sharing between MaaS and DRT system for a successful integration

Data sharing between different transport operators supports the inclusion of DRT in MaaS initiatives. From this perspective, the greater amount of data exchanged provides accurate information for public policy and continuous improvement of services and infrastructure.

Mobility-as-a-Service and DRT in Germany: integration is in progress

DB Regio, a Deutsche Bahn subsidiary (one of the main transport operators in Germany), is restructuring its rural transport offer around Mobility-as-a-service. In order to rethink the DRT brick and adapt it to the challenges of rurality, DB Regio selected Padam Mobility to deploy its DRT solution WDW NOW in Rhineland-Palatinate, a rural state in the southwest of Germany. A partnership with the company Hacon, has facilitated the integration of Padam Mobility’s DRT solution into the overall local mobility offer, in an inclusive MaaS approach :

“One of the most persuasive aspects of the service is its inclusiveness, as it addresses the needs of different population groups especially those who do not have easy access to mobility options, such as people with reduced mobility. In addition, the different booking options cover all age groups : young people are used to make reservations via the app, while older people prefer to talk to a “real person.”

Gerd Overbeck, Head of New Mobility Services at Hacon

Other integrations have been made, such as in Lille, France (Keolis-Padam Mobility).

This article might interest you : MaaS : a rapidly changing transport industry

Find out more about Padam Mobility solutions

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Public Transport in United Kingdom : what’s next?

public transport in United Kingdom

Decades of privatisation and laissez-faire have left public transport in the United Kingdom bereft. The country has earned a reputation as the ultra-liberal Wild West of public transport, leaving users on the sidelines, literally. But the country is preparing for a small revolution. 

I love buses“. So begins the foreword to the National Bus Strategy, signed by Boris Johnson. The 84-page document, entitled Bus Back Better, details how the UK intends to support the strategic importance of buses in achieving national goals, from zero emissions to post-Covid-19 economic recovery. This is a 180° turnaround in a country where, since the 1986 privatisations, some areas have had no bus service at all. Closed lines and prohibitively expensive tickets had halved the use of public transport. 

Until now, England was one of the very few countries where bus systems were left in private hands. London was the only exception: cited as an example of cost-effective public transport, London benefits above all from an exceptional density that makes it comparable with no other territory. 

The Covid crisis seems set to launch a real transformation. 

Public transport in the United Kingdom: Infrastructure, vehicles and technology

The first surprise of the National Bus Strategy is that it is a strategy. As transport consultant, Beate Kubitz explains: “It assumes the full potential of buses to transform society. It is a manifesto for change that begins by detailing exactly how the bus system has failed its passengers and how, in failing its passengers, it has failed entire communities, both urban and rural.

This strategy incorporates infrastructure needs. Dedicated bus lanes, zero-emission vehicles, and the technological foundation, which will not only allow for better fare management, but also for the full integration of this new offer into the mobility service (MaaS).

This is about accelerating the shift to zero-emission vehicles and decarbonising the UK’s transport networks” said Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. 

Public Transport in the United Kingdom: 3 billion investment for buses

To achieve this, the government intends to financially support the public transport industry, thus ensuring the success of the project: frequent services in urban areas, and reliable services in less densely populated areas. Demand-Responsive Transport services are fully included in the identified solutions. These are bus services that do not follow fixed timetables or predefined routes, but travel according to the users’ reservations. Routes are optimised using algorithms and the service provided is of excellent quality. An investment of £3 billion is already on the table. 

As a sign that the tide has turned in the United-Kingdom, the city of Manchester, after London, wants to be the second urban area to return to public control. As in the rest of the country, the use of public transport was down well before the pandemic. Deregulation had produced an ubiquitous pricing system, indecent prices and left entire territories unserved. 

Decisions contested by the operators

The region’s buses will be managed in the same way as in London, and transport operators will be able to bid to offer their services on a “franchise” model.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, is facing strong opposition from operators. They will be much less free to charge prohibitive fares and choose to serve only the most profitable routes. The dispute must be resolved in court, but three other cities have already indicated their intention to return the bus to the community. 

For public transport to play its full role in the transition to net zero carbon, local authorities are taking back control while relying on private expertise. A strategy and real competition where private monopolies used to exist can produce great results.

 

This article might interest you : Why do so many people hate the bus?

Find out more about Padam Mobility.

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Mobility in rural areas: how our DRT solutions help to reconnect territories

rural mobility

Mobility in rural areas is a major issue. Transport provision for rural areas in the UK has shrunk over the past half century. From the Beeching cuts to the decline in bus services over more recent history – which is particularly acute in rural areas – there is now a crisis in provision for rural communities. 

The challenges of rural mobility are those of smaller populations, distributed unevenly over greater areas (along with jobs and services) and generally connected by lower capacity and less reliable networks. According to the Countryside Climate Network, 2020:

  • 43% of people living in rural England live more than 1hour away from a hospital by public transport, compared to just 7% of people in urban areas
  • 47% of people living in rural England live more than 30 minutes away from a town centre by public transport, compared to just 5% of people in urban areas
  • People in rural areas travel more kilometres per year than people living in urban areas

Since its creation, Padam Mobility aims to make smart mobility more efficient, and therefore more accessible, to sparsely populated areas. Taking care of the mobility of the inhabitants of peri-urban and rural areas by offering sustainable shared mobility solutions is a mission to which the company responds on a daily basis by implementing on-demand transport services  (DRT and Paratransit). To improve travel for all and facilitate access to services and jobs.

Our solutions have proved their worth in rural areas because they are easily adaptable to local issues and provide relevant answers to the problems encountered by mobility stakeholders in this scale of territory. Because they make it possible to reduce the cost per trip, by increasing the attractiveness of services and therefore ridership, while at the same time reducing operating costs by minimising empty rides as much as possible. Also because they can be adapted and integrated into a mobility offer by focusing on the most difficult part: providing a comprehensive service to users who are furthest away from the main routes. They particularly respond to the challenges of:

Relevance of the mobility offer

  • Consideration of local constraints and adapting to the different use cases
  • Complementarity with the conventional public transport offer

Quality of service

  • Lower operating costs and significant improvement in the performance of DRT and Paratransit services 
  • Simplification of the tasks of the call centres: faster booking and processing, automatic ride dispatch

User experience and digital transition 

  • Reduction of booking times
  • User empowerment through the introduction of new booking channels (website and mobile app) 
  • Improved passenger experience: real-time, multi-dates or recurring bookings, reminder notifications, ergonomic interfaces, etc.

Accessibility and sustainability 

  • Reduction of the carbon footprint and fine particles thanks to itinerary optimisation and ride pooling
  • Adaptation to all types of vehicle fleets
  • Pooling of DRT and Paratransit services for a universal and 100% accessible offer

In Châlons-en-Champagne, Saint-Omer, in the Brittany or Pays de la Loire region in France, in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, in Germany, Padam Mobility DRT and Paratransit solutions have been able to adapt to the local constraints and challenges of both the territories and their inhabitants in order to improve the mobility of rural populations, reduce their dependency on private cars and increase their autonomy in their travels.

In these territories, transport operators and public authorities have jointly decided to encourage a smart and flexible alternative mobility, based for the most part on innovative management platforms. Thanks to on-demand transport services (DRT and Paratransit), new ways of managing and guaranteeing access to a more inclusive and sustainable mobility have been put in place. These means allow a gradual transition towards carbon-free travels, reduce the impact of private cars and improve access to employment and service areas. 

The implementation of dynamic DRT and Paratransit smart solutions guarantees operators and local authorities immediate benefits:

  • Increased ridership and lower operating costs per trip thanks to a better user experience and the introduction of new booking channels that address wider user groups (young people, seniors, commuters, occasional users). As an example, DRT services triple their ridership on average once equipped with Padam Mobility technology.
  • Optimisation of resources by grouping services on a single platform to maximise service use. These platforms can also be adapted to any type of vehicle and user group while ensuring optimal allocation of resources and optimised service management.

The potential and new use cases that these on-demand transport services make it possible to apprehend open up new perspectives:

Rethinking the mobility offer as a whole

  • While regular public transport is viable with a minimum of demand density, smart DRT and Paratansit services can be set up to connect to regular public transport networks, thereby increasing ridership rather than competing with them. 
  • In the light of the development of Mobility as a Service solutions (MaaS), DRT and Paratransit represent one of the rural mobility options that help to improve the overall coverage of a territory and seamless travels.

Adapting quickly and at no extra cost to the new use cases that have emerged as a result of the health crisis.

  • The dynamic DRT and Paratransit services make it possible to set up smart health transport services in rural areas dedicated to the most vulnerable to serve health care or vaccination centres, to relieve congestion or to supplement regular lines in compliance with health measures.
  • At a time when the health crisis is highlighting all the limits of living in an urban environment, the inhabitants of metropolises are migrating to rural areas where the living environment is more pleasant. These newcomers, who very often do not have a car (or even a driving licence), bring with them new expectations and requirements in terms of access to a reactive mobility that adapts to their lifestyles.

 

Find out more about Padam Mobility

This article might interest you: How Padam Mobility is revolutionising the way people move in all territories

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Ride booking by phone: facilitating the care of specific populations

Ride booking by phone

Ride booking by phone: betting on accessible and inclusive mobility solutions means that users who do not have a smartphone or are unfamiliar with digital tools can book their Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) and Paratransit services directly by phone.

The call centre interface proposed by Padam Mobility in its software suite is simple, intuitive and ergonomic. It guarantees quick and appropriate support for specific groups such as People with Reduced Mobility Needs (PRMs) and senior citizens, while allowing them to benefit from the full potential of Padam Mobility’s dynamic DRT optimisation algorithms.

Presentation of a solution with which 70% of Padam Mobility’s DRT services are equipped.

Se mettre à la place de l’usager pour mieux le servir

Les téléopérateurs des centrales d’appels équipées par Padam Mobility ont accès à un site web de réservation très similaire à celui de l’usager. La différence réside dans la fonctionnalité “agir en tant que” qui leur permet de prendre facilement la main sur les réservations et la gestion des comptes usagers. Que le téléopérateur ait accès à la même interface que l’usager répond à un double objectif :

Putting oneself in the user’s shoes to serve them better

The teleoperators of the call centres equipped by Padam Mobility have access to a DRT booking website very similar to the user’s one. The difference lies in the “act as” feature that allows them to easily take control of user bookings and account management. The fact that the teleoperator has access to the same interface as the user serves a dual purpose:

  • Ergonomics, speed and ease of use: because there is no reason why the teleoperator should book less easily than the user. Just like the user, the operator has access to favourite addresses and the history of rides made, so that new bookings for regular rides can be made in just two clicks.
  • Support towards digital transition: because he/she has access to the same screens, the operator can also easily accompany the user on the phone when he/she tries to make his/her own bookings on his/her own browser.

The interest of our call centre solution lies in the specific support it provides for DRT or Paratransit booking over the phone. It is also an excellent tool to support the digital transition and empowerment in the booking process of populations who want to take the plunge but do not necessarily dare to take the plunge”.

Inès Chaibi, Head of the Customer Success Department at Padam Mobility.

With our call centre solutions, we enable users who are not used the latest digital tools to benefit from all the technological innovation made possible by the ride and itinerary optimisation algorithms we develop. In this way, we make all the advantages of an exceptional innovation accessible to the greatest number of people”.

Thibault Lécuyer Weber, Chief Marketing Officer at Padam Mobility.

Book quickly and easily for a user: instructions of use

Thanks to the Padam Mobility call centre solution, teleoperators can make bookings on behalf of the user:

  • By entering an address manually, with the help of the user to fill in the fields when entering the address.
  • By choosing one of the user’s favourite addresses, if they have been previously informed,
  • By duplicating a past ride from the booking history

Teleoperators then provide the pick-up or drop-off time desired by the user, as well as the desired date(s), recurrence (if any) and number of passengers. Once the results are displayed, they describe over the telephone the characteristics of each of the proposed itineraries (departure and arrival times, walking time, etc.). If one of the proposed itinerary corresponds to the user’s needs, they confirm the ride booking.

Booking by phone
Make a booking easily through the Padam Mobility call centre interface

The user then receives the same information he/she would have received when making his/her own booking: a confirmation email, a reminder SMS and a SMS notifying him/her that the vehicle is approaching.

When the integration of the central call centre solution is set up with a telephony tool, teleoperators are automatically connected to the account of the user who contacts them.

Accompanying is also being accompanied

Teleoperators in charge of making bookings by tphone via the Padam Mobility call centre interface can receive a dedicated training. In addition to the presentation of the tool, it aims to provide detailed explanations and answer questions. A real-time demonstration allows each teleoperator to learn step by step the main tasks that will be entrusted to him/her:

  • Creating a user account and modifying his/her personal information
  • Searching for a user and making a booking on his/her behalf
  • Explanation of the key information to be given back to the user on the service operation or his/her ride booking in particular
  • Access to a user’s ride history
  • Cancellation or modification of a ride booking

Once trained, the teleoperator benefits from support from Padam Mobility’s Customer Success team through a dedicated support interface. This interface allows him/her to access at any time to:

  • A complete and regularly updated documentation
  • A FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) window
  • A ticketing service for specific questions or questions that are not listed in the FA

The training of the teleoperators and the support provided by our teams aim to guarantee the success of the DRT or Paratransit services. It is also an opportunity to make the teleoperators aware of the adapted support they need to provide to certain specific populations such as the elderly”.

Chloé Forestier, Customer Support manager chez Padam Mobility.

 

This article might interest you: Survey: What your paratransit users really need

Find out more about Padam Mobility

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Transporting vulnerable people to vaccination centers: a challenge taken up by on-demand public transport

campagne de vaccination

The vaccination campaign that has started is targeting in priority the most fragile populations. Those for whom the vaccine is the most urgent, those also for whom mobility can be a challenge. The task is to transport these groups to the vaccination sites, which have not been the main concern of those designing public transport systems until now.

The Île-de-France region, in collaboration with the départements, has deployed all its resources to facilitate travel to and from vaccination centers. The region is relying on the departmental PAM (Pour Aider à la Mobilité) networks, which allow people with disabilities of 80% or more to travel around the region.

By also relying on its Dynamic Demand Responsive Transport system, TAD IDFM. This innovation, carried out jointly by the regional authority, Padam Mobility and setec, has already provided tens of thousands of users with efficient public transportation in the low-density areas of the outer suburbs of Paris.

Ultra-fast implementation

Flexible, the Dynamic DRT makes it possible to book a trip between two stops without the vehicle having to follow pre-defined lines or schedules. The transport authority was therefore quickly able to add stops on the Padam Mobility platform to serve vaccination centers in the greater Paris area: in Rambouillet, Saint-Rémy lès Chevreuse, Houdan, Melun, Nemours, Lagny and Pontoise.

In the mobile application, on the website or on the phone, users simply select this new stop, as the transport network has adapted in real time. The interfaces also make it possible to specify whether the user is over 75 years old, a category for which transport to a vaccination center will be free.

 

vaccination campaign

 

The dual PAM / TAD IDFM system set up by the region demonstrates the clear synergies between on-demand public transportation and paratransit. TAD makes it possible to offer a service that is both optimized for the community, thanks to algorithms that recalculate routes in real time, and meets the specific needs of each user.

 

This article may be of interest to you:

Why should public transport become stronger (than ever) despite social distancing?

 

Find out more about Padam Mobility’s Demand-Responsive Transport offer here.

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Demand-Responsive Transport: a mobility solution adapted to People with Reduced Mobility

tpmr

The issue of accessing paratransit service for People with Reduced Mobility (PRM) remains central. Long waits, accessibility and booking issues: more than 75% of users say they are unsatisfied, according to a recent survey made by Padam Mobility. Yet solutions do exist, such as Demand-Responsive Transport, which focuses on users rather than schedules.

Paratransit: why are users unsatisfied?

The accessibility of transportation service for people with disabilities or reduced mobility was one of the main concerns of the French Mobility Act (LOM) in December 2019, which will celebrate its first anniversary on December 24. Notable steps forward include the abolition of the residency criteria and the requirement to go before a local medical commission to access a paratransit service. In other words, the service is offered to everyone, not only to residents of a municipality but also to tourists and visitors passing through.

A progress that doesn’t seem enough, as shown by the latest survey made by Padam Mobility in October 2020. The survey shows that 75% of paratransit users are unsatisfied with the current state of transportation services.

paratransit

While people with reduced mobility represent nearly 12 million people in France, they should not be left out of the loop when it comes to technological advances in means of transportation. Equal access to transportation for all is at stake.

Complaints include dependency on specific service schedules (60% of respondents), long waiting times (pick-up time too far ahead), booking issues (failure to take into account the additional or specific pick-up time required due to disability) and finally the lack of safety and comfort, sometimes requiring the assistance of a companion. The increased autonomy and independence sought by passengers can only be achieved through greater flexibility in mobility services.

“Transportation services for people with reduced mobility are rigid and restrictive. They prohibit any spontaneity” emphasises a paratransit user.

However, there is a more suitable mobility solution: Demand-Responsive Transport. While this type of service for PRMs is already available in the majority of municipalities in France, smart and dynamic DRT goes further, thanks to its hyper-adaptability and real-time responsiveness. It responds to the mobility and the digitalisation of transportation services challenges for People with Reduced Mobility.

Demand-Responsive Transport: a transportation solution for users with reduced mobility

ParatransitDemand-Responsive Transport (DRT), instead of offering rigid schedules, focuses on users and their mobility needs. While more than 70% of People with Reduced Mobility live in suburban areas, DRT offers a door-to-door service with adapted vehicles.

Booking options allow a customised care: the user chooses the number of space for a specific equipment (e.g. wheelchair) and can even delegate the action to a third party, such as a caregiver for example.

 

 

Operating only under reservation, the app optimises the passenger’s travel time, but also facilitates the drivers’ work and the interpretation of data for transit operators:

  • Users can book their ride in real time or in advance via the application, the website or the call centre.
  • They get a notification on their smartphone 30 minutes prior their pick-up to remind them practical information (stop location, time of arrival of the vehicle, characteristics of the vehicle) and allow them to view the vehicle’s position in real time.
  • Drivers have access to their itinerary which is constantly optimised according to the passengers’ bookings.
  • Transit operators have access to all the statistics and data of their territory.

Serving People with Reduced Mobility was one of our priorities for 2020. We are delighted to have achieved this objective. We have taken other major steps this year: becoming the leader in Demand-Responsive Transport in France, deploying the world’s most extensive DRT in the Paris region, and surpassing the objective of 50 territories deployed. Our expectations for 2021 are, of course, very high.” explains Grégoire Bonnat, CEO of Padam Mobility.

The DRT thus helps communities to address the accessibility challenges of their transportation services. Padam Mobility has already equipped  paratransit services with its software in Brittany (BreizhGo), Pays-de-la-Loire (Aléop), Pays de Saint-Omer (Mouvéo), Limoges (RRTHV), Châlons-en-Champagne (Sitac), Pays-du-Mont-Blanc (Montenbus) and the Landes department (Oé on demand).

 

This article may interest you: Survey: what your paratrasit users really need

Find out more about Padam Mobility’s Paratransit offer here.

 

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Survey: What your paratransit users really need

DRT and Paratransit: Woman in a wheelchair is waiting.

75% of paratransit users are unsatisfied with the current state of paratransit services, a survey by Padam Mobility has revealed. Find out what People with Reduced Mobility really expect from a barrier-free mobility and how to achieve it.

Over 14 million People with Reduced Mobility live in the UK. 12 million in France, and 8 million with severe disabilities in Germany. More than 90 % are using public transport. Public authorities and transit operators need to adjust their services to make it fair and easy to use for everyone.

“Paratransit services are a rigid and restrictive system which prohibits any spontaneity”

Why users are unsatisfied with paratransit services

We polled people with mobility impairments. While the majority is using transportation at least twice a week, more than 60% depend on the schedule of the public service to plan their daily life. And independence comes at a high cost – with an expensive adapted car, or a taxi.

Very often, paratransit services will also require planification 24h in advance.

Public schedules make it hard to avoid long waiting times, too early pick-ups or late drop-offs. Since more than 70% need to travel to different destinations or at different times every day, the transportation offer needs to be more flexible.

Here is a dropdown of the most used means of transportation in the population we surveyed

paratransit

Paratransit services are the main solution, but have a lot of room for improvement.

“Paratransit takes me too long to wait. I have to be ready 30 minutes before the booking and wait another 30 minutes before the vehicle arrives”

This is why 75% of paratransit users are unsatisfied with the current state of paratransit services.

The second major need to consider is accessibility. On top of accessible bus stops and vehicles, booking a ride can also be a challenge for People with Reduced Mobility. Most of the services are not digitised and thus cannot take into account additional dwelling times for wheelchair users when booking a ride. A digital booking solution will take this into account, and to make the service more efficient and user-friendly.

Last but not least, security and comfort is a third need that users with reduced mobility wish to see addressed. Traveling together with caregivers or companions, and having a dedicated seat for them can be essential.

Here are the 6 main issues paratransit users have finally shared with us

  • Lack of spontaneity
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Loss of time (vehicle delay / trip with many detours)
  • Poor accessibility
  • Stress related to delay and space in the vehicle
  • Dependence on a third party

Dynamic DRT for paratransit users

Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) offers an opportunity to create barrier-free public transport: it focuses on its users rather than the schedule. Since over 70% People with Reduced Mobility live in suburban areas, DRT allows a door-to-door service with barrier-free vehicles. With the booking options such as selecting a number of wheelchair seats and enabling booking by third parties, transit operators can increase the quality of their paratransit service without causing tremendous operating costs.

Example of dynamic DRT features that address issues for People with Reduced Mobility:

Real-time booking Allows more spontaneity, rides can be booked less than 30 min in advance
Dynamic schedules based on the demand Allows more flexibility
Real-time notifications on the vehicle approach Avoids long waiting times at pick-up stops
Booking by a third-party Allow caregivers or companions to take care of the paratransit users’ mobility when their situation does not allow them to book a ride directly
Door-to-door service Improves accessibility drastically
Specific dwelling time per user or user type Improves the reliability of the service by taking into account the amount of time necessary to pick-up and drop-off a user, depending on his specificity
Additional information on users Allows the service to fit the users’ specific needs thanks to useful information shared with operators and drivers
Additional information on equipments Ensures the vehicles are adapted to onboard any specific equipment (wheelchairs, etc.)

In cooperation with transport operators, Padam Mobility provides a response to the mobility and digitalisation challenges of paratransit services and stakeholders. Smart shared mobility services allow users to book their rides in real-time, as well as vehicles that have space for a wheelchair or baby carriage. Therefore, the transport service becomes more accessible and flexible for everyone.

Padam Mobility powers the software behind paratransit services in Brittany (BreizhGo), in Pays-de-la-Loire (Aléop), in Le Pays de Saint-Omer (Mouvéo), Limoges (RRTHV), Chalons-en-Champagne (Sitac), in Pays-du-Mont-Blanc (Montenbus) and in the Landes department (Oé à la demande).

On these services, the most important and popular features are the door to door service, the additional information on users and the ability to adapt dwelling times for pick-up and drop-off depending on the user’s specificities.

TPMR          TPMR 1

Are you operating a paratransit service? What are the major pain points or users are addressing? Comment this article and share our thoughts and opinions with us!

These articles may be of interest to you:

Is Demand-Responsive Transport relevant in urban areas?

Find out more about Padam Mobility’s Paratransit offer here.

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