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Fulfilling your Municipal Promises thanks to Demand-Responsive Transport

municipal promises

Fulfilling your Municipal Promises thanks to Demand-Responsive Transport. Economic and sustainable development, social policy, land use planning, accessibility, inclusion, resilience: Padam Mobility’s smart and dynamic Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) solutions can help you make your municipal or inter-municipal promises a reality. Thanks to its flexibility, DRT has the particularity of providing relevant answers that go beyond the simple transportation offer. An overview through this series of two articles.

Enriching the experience of its people with reduced mobility (PRM)

DRT adapts to all user populations without exception. It helps to strengthen the autonomy of the populations in a situation of precarious-mobility and to improve their access to services and jobs. It also offers a good complementarity with traditional paratransit adapted vehicles.

The implementation of a smart and dynamic DRT is an opportunity to offer PRMs an enriched user experience thanks to the introduction of features previously reserved for non-PRMs. For example, the possibility to book independently in advance or in real time from a mobile app or an ergonomic booking website, or to make a trip with non-PMRs if their reduced mobility situation allows it, in the context of a shared DRT-Paratransit network.

The mutualisation also makes it possible to offer a unique DRT service with simple and flexible management while addressing several use cases and geographical or individual specificities.

The introduction of the above features does not, however, compromise specific care and support: special instructions, door-to-door service, inclusion of an individual particularity or a specific handicap, presence of a guide dog, booking by an accompanying third party, etc.).

Taking advantage of the dynamic DRT and the new French Mobility Act (LOM) to control expenses 

One of the main challenges faced by local authorities is the control of their public spending.

The new French Mobility Act (LOM) of 2020 recently allows urban communities to take over the competence of Public Transport Authority and to levy the versement mobilité from companies to finance their regular public transport, including DRT. The versement mobilité can thus serve as a financial instrument for the DRT. It enables local authorities to set up or improve their DRT service by investing in digital tools such as those designed by Padam mobility to facilitate demand and bookings.

Indeed, Padam Mobility DRT solutions are designed to optimise costs by optimising the number and filling of vehicles in order to avoid unnecessary or empty kilometres.

Offering a resilient service that can easily be adapted to all contexts, including health crisis situations

Made possible by the flexibility of its tools, Padam Mobility ensures the continuity of its DRT services while guaranteeing the protection of all in compliance with health regulations. As they are not relying on any constraining infrastructure, DRT services can be set up flexibly and without delay, according to public directives or the context.

In times of health crisis:

  • The number of seats available for booking in vehicles can be reduced without delay to guarantee social distancing on board as quickly as possible. This number can also change very easily as health constraints evolve. For example, it is possible to ensure a filling of 20%, then 40%, 60%, and so on until a return to normal. It is even possible to go back if necessary.
  • Remote payment can replace payment on board.
  • Service design can be re-configured in a few hours to favour service to specific sites (health centres, hospitals, etc.) or deprive the service to others (retirement homes).
  • Access to the service can be quickly modified to carry only one type of population (health care staff, senior citizens).

In times of natural disaster, service can be re-parameterised in a few hours so it does not serve a disaster area or it does not take an itinerary that is too dangerous, for example.

Public transport service is guaranteed in all circumstances. The transportation offer is adapted without delay and remains relevant at all times.

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Interview with Arnaud Catherine, Le Cotentin Urban Community

Find out more about Padam Mobility

 

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Making your municipal project a reality with Demand-Responsive Transport

Municipal

Making your municipal project a reality. Economic and sustainable development, social policy, land use planning, accessibility, inclusion, resilience: Padam Mobility’s smart and dynamic Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) solutions can help you make your municipal or inter-municipal project a reality. Thanks to its flexibility, DRT has the particularity of providing relevant answers that go beyond the simple transportation offer. An overview through this series of two articles.

Increasing the attractiveness of business parks and activity areas

The establishment of industrial or commercial activity zones on the outskirts of urban centres is not always accompanied by sufficient connection to local transit networks. Because of a lack of alternatives, the shift to private cars often leads to heavy trafic congestion and an increase in commuting times for the activity area’s working population.

DRT offers an ecological and relevant alternative to private cars. It can provide both internal transport services within business parks and connections with existing transport services and networks (buses, BRT, tramways, trains, car-sharing, solidarity transport, etc.). The attractiveness of the companies located in the areas served is increased and the well-being of the employees who work there is improved.

The flexibility of the DRT also makes it possible to offer a service adapted to specific hourly shifts with, for example, higher availability at peak times or a service adapted to staggered schedules.

In addition, DRT fits in perfectly with the French Plans de Mobilité entreprise (PDM) which can be drawn up in groupings with partner companies located in the municipal or inter-municipal area.

Offering the possibility to go anywhere at any time

Addressing mobility in rural or peri-urban areas is a real political and social choice that targets populations that are often isolated, remote, precarious or non-motorised.

DRT makes it possible to open up the least accessible or least well-served areas by guaranteeing a public transport service open to all. Continuity of public transport service is ensured even when demand is too low or distances too long. Access to services and jobs, generally located in the city centres, is permanently ensured.

By providing services during off-peak hours, DRT is a means of offering citizens the possibility of moving freely and safely at any time of the day. The attractiveness of the area is boosted, as is the nightlife.

Pursue digitalisation and offer a big-city style user experience

Real-time booking, intuitive and ergonomic interfaces, real-time vehicle tracking, remote payment… the features and user experience provided by new mobility solutions are (far too) often reserved for large urban centres. However, users in less densely populated areas would know how to make good use of them.

The implementation of a smart and dynamic DRT, like those deployed by Padam Mobility, is an opportunity for a municipality or an urban community to initiate or continue the digital transformation of its territory by offering its citizens a shared mobility solution with reliable and quality services.

Following a Mobility as a Service (MaaS) logic, the integration of DRT solutions with other modes of transportation or mobility services such as trip planners makes it possible to facilitate travel for all and to provide a relevant response to spatial and social inequalities.

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Padam Mobility meets elected officials and users of La Saire

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Is Demand-Responsive Transport too expensive?

Is Demand-Responsive Transport too expensive?

Is Demand-Responsive Transport too expensive? In this series of articles, we suggest to deconstruct misconceptions about Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) and shared mobility.Misconception #2: “DRT is a financial drain”.

Some mobility stakeholders are reluctant to set up a dynamic DRT service, fearing its cost, which is considered exorbitant. Beware of abusive shortcuts!

Get the upstream Demand right

Before launching a DRT service, it is preferable to carry out an upstream study, as each territory has its own mobility logic. Workshops with elected representatives, users, local stakeholders to identify needs, expectations and an “acceptable” level of the offer (adequate pricing, number of dedicated vehicles, number of trips offered, etc.). Then, it is preferable to test the system and its dimensioning through a renewable public contract, collecting as much data as possible on the service organisation and operations.

Optimise the operating budget

To optimise the operating budget of a DRT service, setting the trigger threshold is very effective. By its very nature, DRT operates on a trigger principle: vehicles only travel from the first booking. It is up to the Public Authority to define a higher trigger threshold. For example, from three reservations onwards. Feasibility studies and pre-launch simulations define the optimal setting.

Take advantage of the versement mobilité (France)

L’enjeu est de maîtriser les dépenses en optimisant le groupage des trajets. Les collectivités peuvent en compenser une partie par le prélèvement du versement mobilité des entreprises. Depuis la nouvelle LOM, il devient l’instrument financier du TAD qui manquait. Il donne la possibilité d’améliorer les services de TAD en investissant dans des outils numériques pour faciliter la demande et accélérer les réservations.

The challenge is to control expenditure by optimising the grouping of itineraries. Local authorities can compensate for part of this by deducting a portion of the versement mobilité des entreprises. Since the new French Mobility Act (LOM), it has become the missing financial instrument for the DRT. It provides the opportunity to improve DRT services by investing in digital tools to facilitate demand and speed up bookings.

The versement mobilité may even cover the entire operating cost. The Pays de Saint-Omer Urban Community, which devotes 490,000 euros per year to its rural DRT operations, is “reimbursed in full by the versement mobilité“, according to Marc Thomas, its transport Vice-President (La Gazette des communes, 2020).

Compare what is comparable

Smart and dynamic DRT often replaces or optimises “classic” DRT services. The importance of DRT configuration in its cost is often underestimated. Badly optimised, badly pooled, badly promoted, it can indeed prove to be out of price. The gains resulting from a better configuration, with the right tools, are enormous. In Orleans, the adoption of Padam Mobility solutions enabled the operating costs of the Résa’Tao service to be reduced by around 30%. 

Thought of as an intermodal service or as a feeder service towards existing lines, dynamic DRT makes it possible to increase the capacity of the DRTs it modernises while extending the offer, often in sparsely populated areas. Since the entire network benefits from it, its cost should be analysed at the overall network level.

Do not forget that the transportation industry remains a highly subsidised one

Like the rest of public transport, DRT is heavily subsidised. The user pays only about one-third of the cost of the transport operations. This on-demand public service is therefore not intended to be profitable. Less dense, more difficult to serve, the areas it covers are the least profitable. It is therefore a real political and social choice that targets isolated populations with no means of transport.

 

These articles may interest you:

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Is it possible to control the budget of a Demand-Responsive Transport?

budget Demand Responsive Transport

Is it possible to control the budget of a Demand Responsive Transport? In this series of articles, we suggest to deconstruct misconceptions about Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) and shared mobility. Misconception #1: “If too many people use my DRT, I won’t be able to control the budget”.

Some mobility stakeholders are setting up dynamic DRTs in the hope – unconsciously or not – that they will be used sparingly. They imagine the ridership incentive make the DRT too expensive to use. This encourages behaviours that are sometimes schizophrenic: the service must attract the public to demonstrate its added value (ride pooling). But not too much, because too attractive, it would be too expensive. Beware of abusive shortcuts!

Determining an “acceptable” offer

By determining an acceptable level of supply for the Public Transit Authority (PTA), we can get out of this schizophrenia. When contracting or designing the service, it is in the interest of the PTA to ask itself how much it is willing to pay for its DRT service. To do so, it is necessary to determine the maximum acceptable offer in terms of number of vehicles assigned to the service, number of rides per day or the cost of the service.

Once the means have been capped, an increase in ridership necessarily improves the performance of the service. The PTA has only one incentive left: to provide the best possible service at constant means.

Define the best service in this context

Once these means have been determined, the PTA will keep full control on its budget. It will have determined the maximum load it will be able to carry. It will then be up to it to set up the best possible offer (in terms of used algorithms, service design (a zonal configuration will be preferred to a fixed-line configuration), etc.).

In complete financial security, the PTA will take care of removing all obstacles to the adoption of DRT: short booking deadlines, simple and quick sign up and effective communication will make the service attractive and reliable. A success adapted to the means.

 

These articles might interest you:

 

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4 essential steps for a demand responsive transport 2/2: Extending the service and integrating new use cases

essential steps for a demand responsive transport

The efficiency and success of a demand responsive transport (DRT) service is based on several steps. In this article, we will discuss the two other essential steps to the implementation of an efficient dynamic demand responsive transport service: the extension of the service and the technical and new use case integrations. essential steps for a demand responsive transport

What is a dynamic DRT?

The aim of a dynamic DRT is to rationalise public transport by adapting supply more closely to demand with more interesting economic and ecological benefits. Vehicles, reserved via a mobile application, a website or a call centre, replace underused or non-existent fixed lines. Their route is optimised thanks to algorithms.

Step 3: Service extension

The service extension stage is a move to scale aimed at perpetuating DRT to make it a structuring element of the mobility offer in the area in which it operates, to overcome the weaknesses of the existing transport network or to rethink the area’s public transport service plan by opening up poorly connected areas.

This step is used to identify the areas and use cases that best lend themselves to DRT in order to replicate the DRT model. It enables a “tools” strategy to be defined and implemented, following integration logics aimed mainly at replacing deficient fixed lines and/or converting under-utilised services.

The main challenges in extending the service are based on the method of acquiring the DRT software (calls for tender, over-the-counter, etc.), the balance with the rest of the network, integration with the existing network and its tools, performance monitoring and consolidation of service quality criteria.

What indicators should be taken into account at this stage?

  • The same as those of the pilot (step 2)
  • Acquisition, retention, use, mileage and knowledge of users.

 What questions should be asked before moving on to the next step?

  • Are there other needs or cases of unaddressed uses?
  • What is the capacity to replicate the service operationally in other areas, possibly with different operations or use cases?

Find out more about the service extension set up for Ile-de-France Mobilités by Padam Mobility

Step 4: technical integrations and new use cases

The principle of technical integrations: 

  • Adding new use cases to the existing ADP platform at marginal cost and benefiting from their advantages. In particular, this makes it possible to pool operating and management costs (vehicles, drivers, etc.).
  • To meet specific needs (e.g. transport of healthcare personnel in the event of a health crisis, substitution services in the event of works, occasional / event transport).

Cases of use that can be integrated:

  • Other shared public transport: TPMR, school transport, evening service in stations without reservation, airport shuttles, etc.
  • Occasional transport: transport of healthcare staff in the event of a health crisis, substitute services in the event of works, occasional / event transport (e.g. a concert or football match).

Technical integrations are used to make TAD a brick perfectly integrated in your MaaS (Mobility as a Service) vision. As an aggregator of mobility solutions, it aims to offer individuals the opportunity to visualize their journeys from end to end regardless of the type of transport used (public/private, shared, soft, mass, etc.).

In practice:

  • DRT platform integrates with the local MaaS and allows users to complete their public transit trips with DRT.
  • The TAD itself integrates with the network, synchronizing with train schedules for example.
  • Finally, other transport solutions exist, such as carpooling, bike sharing, car sharing, taxis/VTC etc. The TAD can be combined with these other forms of transport to complete its offer when it becomes saturated. For example, the TAD platform can offer carpooling or taxi/VTC alternatives when no TAD is available in the next half hour, and vice versa.

Learn more about the integration of MaaS in Padam Mobility solutions

Our experience in ADP design, configuration and optimization leads us to the observation of these 4 steps that we consider to be a good factor of success and efficiency of an ADP service. The success of an ADP service mainly includes user satisfaction with the service. In all cases, the best approach to adopt always consists in getting in touch with a dynamic ADP professional who will be best able to advise you in the implementation of your service.

Learn more about the two other essential step 1/2

 

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Padam Mobility offers technological solutions to ensure social distancing in transport

End of stay-at-home order

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

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

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

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

Grégoire Bonnat, Co-founder and CEO of Padam Mobility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grégoire Bonnat, Co-founder and CEO of Padam Mobility

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

Demand-Responsive Transport CoVid 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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4 essential steps for an effective demand-responsive transport: the feasibility study and the pilot

étapes essentielles pour transport à la demande

The efficiency and success of a Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) service is based on several steps. In this article, we will discuss the first two essential steps for an effective DRT: the feasibility study and its simulations, and then the pilot.

What is a dynamic Demand-Responsive Transport?

The aim of a dynamic DRT is to rationalise public transport by fine-tuning supply to demand with more interesting economic and ecological benefits. Vehicles, reserved via a mobile application, a website or a call centre, replace under-used or non-existent fixed lines. Their route is optimised thanks to algorithms.

Step 1: the feasibility study and the simulations

The goal of the feasibility study is to understand the operation and use of DRT on a territory and to question its rationality from an economic point of view. It is used to define supply and demand scenarios, obtain reliable performance indicators, and understand how these evolve according to the different scenarios defined.

The simulations, preferably taken from the DRT platform, make it possible to put figures on the different scenarios based on reservation data, demographic data, transport surveys or telephone data, making it possible to anonymously track journeys within a territory. The simulations operate in-vivo and also make it possible to validate the economic relevance of the service, to ensure the correct configuration of the offer and to identify the risks.

What indicators should be taken into account at this stage?

  • Quality of service: waiting time, percentage of requests served and average detour rate: how do users feel about the quality of service? Are they satisfied enough to re-use the service on a regular basis?  
  • Cost of service: number of people per hour per vehicle per trip, mileage, number of vehicles used and maximum vehicle occupancy rate.

What questions should be asked before moving on to the next step?

  • Is the service financially sustainable and acceptable to the community?
  • Is the project politically tenable?
  • Will users and operational teams agree to host an innovative project such as DRT?

Read more about the feasibility study and simulations carried out for Aviapolis (Helsinki, Finland) by Padam Mobility

Step 2: the pilot

The pilot, whose watchword is agility, is used to test, measure and iterate over short cycles. The pilot is used to validate the relevance of the new DRT service for the need for mobility, the digital transition to a SaaS tool and the strategies and means of communication with the population. It also makes it possible to test the uses of DRT and to understand the issues involved (traction, quality of service, operational handling, etc.).

What indicators should be taken into account at this stage?

  • Quantitative data: number of visitors, distribution of the reservation application & website VS call centre, number of passengers per vehicle and per commercial trip, quality of service.
  • Qualitative data: human transition and change management, satisfaction surveys.
  • Network balance: frequentation of non DRT lines that pass nearby.

What questions should be asked before moving on to the next stage?

  • What is the trend? Is it stable?
  • How is the economic balance of the service?
  • What is the capacity to replicate the service operationally in other areas, possibly with different operations or uses? 

Learn more about the pilot carried out for Keolis in Orleans by Padam Mobility

Find out how to build an efficient DRT

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How to build an efficient Demand Responsive Transport? The business model 3/3

Demand-Responsive Transport business model

The success of DRT service rests on several pillars. In this third and final section, we will discuss the importance of Demand-Responsive Transport business model to ensure its efficiency and sustainability.

When it comes to the economic model of a DRT service, three points must be taken into account: pricing, the operating budget and the vehicle fleet.

1- Demand-Responsive Transport business model: the pricing

The prices of DRT are generally aligned with those of the existing network. However, in some cases, it may be adapted according to the use. For example, on a night service, the fare for the journey may be higher than during the day. Where there is no pre-established transportation network, such as in rural areas, it is possible to set a fare that will vary according to the distance travelled.

2-Demand-Responsive Transport business model: the operating budget

An effective way to optimize the operating budget and save money is to set the trigger threshold. Demand-Responsive Transport by nature operates on a trigger principle (the vehicle(s) will only run if at least one reservation has been made). Nevertheless, it is up to you to go further and define a trigger threshold higher than one reservation. For example, trigger a service from three reservations. The optimal setting of this threshold is highlighted in feasibility studies and simulations prior to launching your network.

It is recommended that you clearly identify the logic of the dynamic DRT software providers behind the capital and operating budget. More and more dynamic DRT solution providers are following a SaaS, Software as a Service model. This model makes it possible to provide a software suite, hosted not on the operator’s computer but on a remote server. In return, the operator pays for a monthly license that includes maintenance and hosting*. This licence is generally calibrated on the use of the DRT solution, which may raise questions about the way local authorities allocate their budget between investment and operation. If you are a local authority, you are encouraged to make your calls for tenders taking care that neither SaaS suppliers nor historical suppliers are excluded by the way the price grid is configured.

Also pay attention to the intellectual property clauses. For SaaS suppliers, intellectual property is the lifeblood of the business. It is therefore very difficult to ask this type of player to deploy its dynamic DRT solution while entrusting maintenance to a third party. This obligation would require them to open access to their code, which would endanger their model and technology.

3- The fleet of vehicles

There are two approaches to making vehicles available to users. They depend on the context in which the Demand-Responsive Transport service is set up. The latter can work thanks to:

  • A dedicated fleet: which may be suitable for areas of varying density, where demand is known to be relatively stable and permanent.
  • A subcontracted fleet (e.g. to taxi companies): which may be more suitable for low-density areas, where trips are triggered less often.

In addition, as in the case of transport for impaired mobility people, there is increasingly a ‘mixed’ approach. In this case, the goal is to meet demand entirely with dedicated vehicles while having the capacity to respond to peak demand with sub-contracted vehicles.

Asking the right questions about how to understand your user experience, how to parameterize your service design and how to configure your business model, in principle lays the foundation for an efficient and relevant Demand Responsive Transport service. If you would like to know more, and benefit from our advice and expertise,  Padam Mobility’s webinars are regularly posted on our YouTube channel.

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How to build an efficient Demand-Responsive Transport? The service design 2/3

Designing demand-responsive transport

The success of a DRT service rely on several pillars. In this second article, we will discuss the importance of service design when designing Demand-Responsive Transport. Even if dynamic DRT works with algorithms that make route decisions autonomously, the logic of building the offer (different from the scheduling / dressing used for fixed lines) requires a few choices to be made.

Designing Demand-Responsive Transport: the right questions

What is to be served?

We recommand to rely on demand and to define the areas (origin-destinations) that you would like to serve with DRT. Answering this question is not always easy, however, there is some data you can use:

  • Data from an existing service
  • Historical data on fixed lines
  • Travel surveys
  • Data from your national statistics bureau
  • Data from telephone operators, etc.

Which service for which purpose?

The aim here is to define the quality of service you want to achieve. These goals vary according to the context. For example, in a dense area, it may be interesting to offer a reservation at the latest 5 or 10 minutes before departure, or even in real time. In a less densely populated area, the focus may be more on the frequency of daily trips or the guarantee of interconnection with other modes of transport. For a company, one might even think about a guaranteed arrival time at the company’s location.

Which service model should be implemented?

Once the DRT’s goals are identified, the service model must be set. Several models exist, here are some of them:

  • The zonal model: this is the simplest and most applied model. It is also called “freefloating”. It involves defining a specific area in which vehicles will operate. Pick-up and drop-off within this zone is directly managed by the algorithm according to demand, with or without additional constraints. In Melun, the service model allows to take the DRT from and to any point of the area.

In Clamart, DRT vehicles ride without restrictions throughout the entire perimeter of the service, with a few stops at mandatory times.

  • The feeder model: it is based on the zonal model, with additional constraint. This model allows users to be picked up in a delimited zone and impose the vehicle to go to a given point at a specific time, even if the vehicle’s route is flexible. For example, a stop at the train station may be mandatory at 8.00 a.m. because a train stops there at 8.10 a.m. This model is used in the context of intermodality (interfacing with other ways of transport). It’s one of the biggest challenges of DRT, which is not intended to replace the existing network, but to complete the mobility offer. In Strasbourg, zonal DRT for journeys within the metropolitan area is added to DRT for journeys to reach tramways and bus stations.

  • The virtual line: the historical model which respects the classical lines, but which stops only when there is a request.

How to optimize the grouping rate ?

There is no exact answer to this question because it depends on the context of implementation and use cases. Supply and demand will greatly contribute to providing a solution. For a given demand, the consequences will not be the same according to the number of vehicles available. Moreover, technical optimisation will impact the rate of groupage: frequency of journeys, authorised detours, etc…

Almost all of today’s dynamic Demand-Responsive Transport solutions offer simulations that allow the comparison of different scenarios by playing with various parameters to find a solution with the optimal estimated grouping rate.

Is the DRT service understandable to the user?

It’s always tempting to embark on a highly technical approach to achieve a highly optimized and intelligent service configuration. However, this configuration may in fact be too complex to be understood by users who will not want to use it. In order to design an efficient Demand-responsive Transport, it is better to design a service that is slightly less optimised from a technical point of view, but which is widely used because understood by the public.

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