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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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Is Demand-Responsive Transport relevant in urban areas?

urban

Is DRT relevant in an urban areas? In this series of articles, we propose to deconstruct the preconceived ideas about Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT). Common misconception #3: ” DRT is for the countryside “.

Some urban actors are reluctant to set up a dynamic DRT service, considering this travel solution mainly addresses the use cases of peri-urban and rural areas. While it is true DRT is a solution particularly suited to low-density areas, its implementation is nevertheless relevant in urban areas for several reasons.

Urban by nature

The first forms of DRT developed in some major American and European cities during the inter-war period, in a context of economic crisis and scarcity of resources. Traces of their existence in the Paris region can be found in the 1930s in the form of collective taxis which offered their clients the possibility of making inner-city trips by sharing their ride with other people in order to lower the price (Castex, 2017).

In Europe and North America, collective taxis will gradually evolve into regulated forms of public transport which will be officially called Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) later on. In France, the first DRTs, as organised and regulated systems, will then effectively appear and be developed in the regions with the French Departmental Transport schemes of 1974, hence their reputation as a mobility solution in rural areas.

A mobility solution that effectively complements the conventional transport offer, regardless of the spatial context

The DRT is not limited to any one type of territory. On the contrary, its flexibility, the speed of its deployment and its infrastructural independence allow it to touch all types of use cases, regardless of their spatial context of intervention.

Generally speaking, the DRT will prove to be relevant in all cases where the conventional transportation offer will show its limits.

  • When the demand is too low, too diffuse or too uneven, the DRT provides or complements the transportation offer (e.g. DRT services at off-peak times and especially at night, mainly aimed at young, workers and tourists).
  • When the offer is too poorly adapted to the most vulnerable ones, the DRT provides a solution for travel, at any time of day, that is calm and adapted to vulnerable populations (e.g. shuttle services mainly aimed at the elderly, PRMs and minors).
  • When the conventional offer is saturated, DRT reinforces it “in duplicate” on the “black spots” of the existing network or on a particularly popular itinerary (e.g. airport shuttle).
Navettes Clam'Express
Clam’Express shuttles at Clamart (Paris region). Equipped with Padam Mobility technology, they facilitate off-peak travels in addition to the existing Paris network.

The urban DRT also makes it possible to provide adapted solutions to support specific public policies:

  • Fight against the forms of insecurity encountered by some groups (e.g. shuttle service reserved for women).
  • Pedestrianisation of some districts or the city centre (e.g. shuttle service to/from car parks on the outskirts)

More symbolically, the urban DRT allows a municipality to mark its commitment to reducing the modal share of non-shared modes and to a more integrated, inclusive, accessible, intelligent and sustainable mobility.

Allowing people to travel at night with complete freedom, flexibility and safety, the example of Night Bus

With more than 210,000 inhabitants, the city of Padua (Veneto, Italy) had no night-time public transport solution. Conventional buses stopped their service at 9 pm, which was a hindrance to the city’s highly developed night-time activity. Following some security problems, the implementation of a safe transport solution in the evening and at night became a necessity to improve the well-being of the population and to preserve the attractiveness of the university campuses which attract some 60,000 students. 

To meet these challenges, the local public authorities chose Padam Mobility technology to operate a night-time urban DRT service in partnership with Busitalia Veneto, the local urban transport operator. The DRT Night Bus service is created. It is configured in such a way as to provide a relevant travel solution that guarantees the safety of users, most often young people and women. Complementing the public transport network in the evenings and at night, the service serves all major night-time activity centres, even those located on the outskirts, offering an alternative to accidental travel solutions in an often festive student environment (scooters, cars, bicycles, etc.).

Night Bus
Promotional flyer of the Night Bus service (Padova, Italy)

Le succès de Night Bus est immédiat, notamment auprès des étudiantes. Aujourd’hui, il continue d’enregistrer des performances qui vont bien au delà des prévisions initialement émises : 

  • Plus de 12000 usagers transportés depuis le lancement du service
  • Jusqu’à 2400 réservations par mois 
  • Jusqu’à 2500 téléchargements de l’application par mois
  • Jusqu’à 80% de taux de groupage

The success of Night Bus is immediate, especially among female students. Today, it continues to record performances that go far beyond the initial forecasts: 

  • More than 12,000 users have been transported since the launch of the service
  • Up to 2400 bookings per month
  • Up to 2500 application downloads per month
  • Up to 80% pooling rate

 

These articles may be of interest to you:

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

Is Demand-Responsive Transport too expensive?

Find out more about Padam Mobility solutions

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How Padam Mobility is revolutionising the way people move in all territories

territories

In peri-urban and rural areas, travel opportunities are often very limited. Demand is too low or too scattered, territories are too large or too convoluted, needs and use cases are too different: proposing a unified mobility offer while responding to the multiple specificities of one or more territories is complicated. To overcome this difficulty, Padam Mobility allows to flexibly manage, within the same platform, different Demand-Responsive mobility services operated by one or more transit operators in one or more territories.

Bypassing obstacles to the development of shared mobility in peri-urban and rural areas

If the so-called “alternative” mobility offers, which aim to encourage modal shift and to break away from the still very dominant private car model, try to find their place in the peripheries […], the low density of the urban fabric makes the task logically more difficult than in the urban centres – where the threshold effect necessary for the operation of some modes (car sharing, car pooling) is obviously easier to achieve […]. While there are many signs of the emergence of alternative forms of mobility in peri-urban areas, this does not yet seem to be sufficient to switch to non-automobile lifestyles.

Marc Dumont, professor of urban planning at the University of Lille in “Alternative mobilities remain a complementary mobility, not a substitution mobility”.

Aware of these obstacles to the development of shared mobility, Padam Mobility teams have developed their Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) solutions around a “multi-territories” architecture. Unique on the market, it allows the flexible management of different DRT services that do not share or only partially share certain characteristics within the same platform.

Managing several territories, shared mobility services or transit operators under a unified brand name

Multi-territories” particularly responds to the constraints of Public Transport Authorities operating in several zones or in a multi-operated territory by making it possible to adapt the parameters of the services  their challenges.

Thus, in front of the multitude of use cases in the Paris region, explained in part by its 12,000 km2 surface area, “multi-territories” has emerged as a relevant response for coordinating the DRT supply on a regional scale. A unique platform has been designed for Île-de-France Mobilités (Paris region Public Transport Authority). It is gradually being expanded to include DRT services specific to one or more areas. In 2022, thanks to the “multi-territories”, the regional platform will be able to manage nearly 60,000 bookings per month (compared to 12,000 at present), spread over 40 territories (compared to 23 at present) and operated by more than 8 different transit operators.

Multi-Multi-territories architecture: several territories, several services, a single solution
Multi-territories architecture: several territories, several services, a single solution
Multi-territories architecture: users can select their territory in a single click in their mobile app
Multi-territories architecture: users can select their territory in a single click in their mobile app

Among its assets, the “multi-territories” architecture offers :

  • A single brand name and a single interface for all users, guaranteeing a unified and consistent user experience. By deploying a single application, under a single brand, across several territories, the transport authority simplifies its communication and reduces its user acquisition costs.
  • Single points of contact
  • The guarantee of true independence from local transit operators
  • Total control of the data collected for better transparency and neutrality
  • Optimised control of operating and service extension costs
Multi-territories architecture: several territories, a single service, a single solution
Multi-territories architecture: several territories, a single service, a single solution

The “multi-territories” allows all types of configurations. This is possible at any time of the day or year.

It is totally conceivable that on one or more territories, a Demand-Responsive service is offered to the active population by proposing a minibus service that feeds transport nodes or activity areas during rush hour. During the day, off-peak times, the service can be mutualised with a paratransit offer and improves travel for junior and senior citizens. In the evenings and at night, fleets of vehicles with a lower capacity replace those of minibuses and strengthen the night-time mobility offer, targeting students in particular.

During the school and summer holidays, the service is readjusted to serve leisure facilities or to reinforce the service to local tourist sites. In a context of health crisis, the service facilitates the travels of health workers to and from hospitals on specific time slots or itineraries to avoid any risk of contagion.

Anything becomes possible.

Multi-territories architecture: a single territory, several services, a single solution
Multi-territories architecture: a single territory, several services, a single solution
Deploy new services or territories gradually and easily

While the configuration and management of multiple services on a single platform is one of the main advantages of the “multi-territories”, the ability to configure and deploy new services or territories gradually with ease and without redeployment is undoubtedly its main strength. Thus, a Public Transport Authority may very well decide to create an offer in a first area and then extend it to other territories without its users having to update their application to benefit from these new services. The user benefits at all times from a single access point to several service offers.

Another advantage is that it is particularly easy to parameterise one territory differently from another (e.g. booking deadlines or booking modification deadlines, re-routing rates, type of vehicles, service hours, etc.). Extensions of existing services or newly created services make it possible to easily adapt to changes in territories and to respond almost immediately to the needs of the users.

 

Find out more about Padam Mobility

This article might interest you: Making your municipal project a reality with Demand-Responsive Transport

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[Forum] Why do so many people hate the bus?

responsible mobility

The bus does not have the place it deserves. Several actors share the responsibility for its execrable image. By administering the right remedies, it will become central to the future of responsible mobility.  Why do so many people hate the bus? Is it possible to prefer a bus journey to a Tesla journey?

Two modes of transport have a legitimate image of virtue: train and bicycle. They are non-polluting or low-polluting, take up little space, are suitable for a multitude of journeys and are sustainable. The question of their widespread use no longer arises. But between train and bicycle, too many journeys remain almost impossible without a private car.

Certain populations (children, the elderly, PRMs), certain conditions (weather, objects to be transported) make the situation worse. It is in these areas that the bus, whether fixed or on demand, is intended to take the place of the private car. Because the experience of transport is heterogeneous. Depending on whether you live at the centre of the metro network, close to scooters and passenger cars with driver services or in a sparsely populated area where the mobility offer is limited to a pair of trainers or a bus that passes every half hour.  Living without a car outside a city centre can nowadays only be suffered and never chosen.

Well optimised, the bus is ecologically and economically more efficient. The impact of smart bus lines is decisive for the community. In order to fully take its place, the bus must reinvent its image, like other modes of transport before it.

“Whoever is seen on a bus after the age of 30 has failed in life”

This quote, attributed to Margaret Thatcher, is apocryphal. It is the work of Brian Christian de Claiborne Howard, an English essayist of the first half of the twentieth century. It sums up in a few words the deplorable image of the bus in our societies.

The bus has the image of a transport mean for second-class citizens. Poor people. The bus is old, it is unreliable, and let’s face it, it often stinks. If we made a profile of the bus user, it would look like the profile of the abstainer. Far from responsible mobility.

After decades of explaining its misdeeds, the private car still has a more positive image than the bus. According to Eurostat, the modal share of buses in the EU fell by 9.6% between 2005 and 2017. While that of the car remained unchanged (+0.3%) and that of the train increased by 11.5%.

The image of transportation modes is changing

Other modes of transport have been able to reinvent their image. This is the case of the long-distance train: from an uncomfortable, slow and unattractive mode of transport, it has become modern, state-of-the-art, offering a premium experience to as many people as possible at an affordable price from city centres. The train has become more desirable than the airplane.

Even more recently, the taxi has reinvented itself forced march. By taking advantage of platforming, passenger cars with driver have metamorphosed the user experience. The lack of friendliness (often fantasised) of drivers, the difficulty of finding one, the uncertainties at the time of payment have disappeared and the taxi has become premium while becoming more democratic.

“The bus must become the iPhone of transportation modes”

The examples are countless. Even the scooter has become cool. On the other side of the spectrum, the airplane or motorised two-wheelers, ancient symbols of glamour, have seen their image degraded. Because of a pitiful user experience (1), or a shift in mentality.

What if everything had to be redone?

Repairing the bus system costs much less than repairing the train. The bus is a very small market in the eyes of an economist, but very important for society. It only can afford to propose the ordeal of the night bus service whereas it is in competition with Uber and with Tesla, who know how to give desire (2).  Taking the example of successful modes of transport, the bus must become the iPhone of transport, just as the French TGV (high-speed train) symbolised technological excellence.

Bus de ville

When it comes to image, it has to start with the visual. Stop turning every bus user into a sandwich man. No one wants to get into a vehicle between two cheese and telephone ads.

Vehicle markings should also do less to promote the transport authority, the town hall or the control centre, whose logos and colours invade the walls of the vehicles. Private shared mobility services, such as company or airport shuttles, display vehicles that look like high-end saloon cars. Renowned designers are responsible for the design of the train seats. Why not bus seats? Some conurbations are making efforts to improve the image projected by their means of transport, but there are too few of them.

Instead of advertising on buses, why not advertise for buses? Public services are not condemned to infantile and outdated communication: in France, the Army has been able to offer modern and striking communication.

“Saving time and improving commercial speeds”

Finally, the user experience is key to transforming the bus experience into responsible mobility. Not by adding two gadgets and USB sockets.  It has become impossible to offer public transport that does not warn of the specific time of arrival. Who can’t guarantee a seat, carry a piece of luggage, or accommodate no more than 3 pushchairs at the same time. A transport that provides so little and adapts so badly to conditions, passengers and surprises. Even the NYC subway, once perceived as an unhealthy cut-throat, has regained a positive image thanks to a team of motivated engineers (3).

Its reliance on traffic also gives the bus the image of a slow mode of transport. This idea must also be addressed. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a more radical and, above all, more efficient solution than reserved lanes. Eliminating on-board ticket sales also saves time and improves commercial speeds.

Shared transport is taking its place. Between 2002 and 2017, in France, public transport increased by 24%, compared to 4% for the private car. Among public transport, the railways have taken the lion’s share, with an increase of more than 28%, compared to 19% for buses and 12% for air transport. In order to go further, further improvements are still needed.

The burden of these improvements falls on a multitude of actors: manufacturers, transport authorities and local authorities. To replace the private car or taxi, the bus must be given priority, everywhere, in order to save time that it will devote to better take care of users.

This is the only way to make the bus attractive and to ensure that its promises of ecological, social and economic impact are kept for the greatest number of people.  Adapted to all types of territories, it deserves it.

Thibault Lécuyer-Weber – Chief Marketing Officer, Padam Mobility

 

  1. The airplane suffers from the distance of the airports and the heavy security protocols imposed. 
  2. https://www.01net.com/actualites/le-tesla-roadster-serait-equipe-de-propulseurs-de-fusee-issus-de-spacex-1920329.html
  3. https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/17/engineering-against-all-odds/

 

Find out more about Padam Mobility solutions

This article might interest you: The shadow of the private car is back

 

 

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[Forum] The shadow of the private car is back

Private car is back

After so much effort to de-clutter the roads, the health crisis has reshuffled the cards. The modal share of public transport is in freefall, and there is a real risk that the private car will return to the forefront.

Pollution indices were among the few good news during containment. The French High Council for the Climate reported a 30% drop in GHG emissions.

The prospect of a major traffic jam

As ecological awareness has come up against the difficulty of guaranteeing health security for all, deconfinement has redistributed the modal share cards in the daily lives of citizens. Public transport has been deserted. According to Ile-de-France Mobilités (the Paris region Public Transport Authority), last June the number of people using the Paris region network represented barely 40% of the number of people using the network at the same time last year. In September, the figure did not reach 60% of passengers. Reluctant to board buses or metros, many urban and suburban dwellers want to avoid the promiscuity of public transport. Deprived, elected officials have seen their citizens demand impossible guarantees while seeing their public transport revenues drop.

The car is therefore on the verge of making a resounding comeback. Published in March, an Ipsos poll carried out in China revealed that 66% of the Chinese people questioned intend to choose the car to get around, a figure that did not exceed 34% before the crisis. In France, 233,820 new cars were registered in June 2020, compared to 96,310 at the same time last year, a notable increase of 1.2%. 

Favouring alternative solutions by being responsible

On all our roads, in the city centre as well as in the peri-urban and rural areas, it is not possible to give up responsible mobility. There is only one way to do this: be more responsible. It is up to us to wear masks, to respect sanitary measures and to avoid unnecessary travels. This is also how we will enable transit operators to be resilient. It is also up to us to trust them to ensure our safety by choosing the most suitable alternative for our journeys.

Among the solutions, Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) provides both flexibility and resilience that is rare in the world of public transport. This is Padam Mobility’s speciality. In the face of the pandemic, DRT makes it possible to book seats in everyday transport, thus controlling a passenger occupancy rate that guarantees social distancing. 

Adaptable in real time, it allows services to be transformed by adding stops where needs, even temporary, are felt. It is also much more predictable: DRT’s enhanced passenger information will warn users if a vehicle is already too full to accommodate passengers safely. And will direct them to the next available ride.  

This period is testing the resilience of public transport. Which has the means to meet the challenge. 

Thibault Lécuyer-Weber – Chief Marketing Officer, Padam Mobility

 

This article may interest you: Padam Mobility offers technological solutions to ensure social distancing in transports

Find out more about Padam Mobility solutions

 

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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

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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.

Take advantage of the versement mobilité (France)

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

Transports publics should become stronger despite social distancing

Covid-19 has disrupted the mobility sector more than any startup ever has. I am offering a brief and personal analysis of what happened, choices that lay ahead of us and why public transport should become stronger despite social distancing. At a time where we are slowly digesting health guidelines, we have historical decisions to make to ensure that the future of mobility, our future, is sustainable.

The initial blow

The entire mobility sector has taken a serious blow in the past two months. Under lockdown, people’s movements have decreased by 50% to 80% (depending on countries’ guidelines), our usually congested cities were emptied of cars and pedestrians alike. Both well established companies and unicorns yesterday considered as the future of mobility – especially Mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) – were brought to their knees. Uber’s e-scooter sharing business Jump was quickly merged with the Lime, for a fraction of their pre-coronavirus valuation, incidentally sending tens of thousands of e-bikes to ‘recycling’. 100-year old car rental company Hertz filed for bankruptcy (Chapter 11) in the US, and the European leader of car-sharing Drivy, just months after being acquired by US-based Getaround, turned to the Paris Commercial Court to obtain its support, as a “preventive measure”. Car-sharing, scooter-sharing were supposed to lead the way to a world free of private cars to reduce our carbon footprint.

Some services were actually helpful to cope with the virus situation”.

Public transit too was strongly affected but so far managed to resist the first wave. Thanks to balanced public-private business models, relying on long-term contracts, public transit stakeholders are more resilient than other businesses. Even under the sternest lockdown measures, PT services were still considered as essential. There is to my knowledge no major public transit operator which declared bankrupt, nor have public authorities stated that public transit would be significantly downsized in the future. Some services, such as Demand-Responsive Transit, were actually helpful to cope with the virus situation: the “Night Bus” service in Padua, Italy (powered by Padam Mobility) was turned into a day service and increased ridership. Berlkönig in Berlin, also focused on night mobility, was extended for the benefit of health workers.

Post-lockdown prolonged effects on modal shares

Having labelled all these events as “Impacts of the Covid-19 crisis”, it is tempting to think that things will just go back to normal. In many ways, the crisis may have just accelerated trends which were already there. However, I think we should not underestimate how the coronavirus has single-handedly disrupted our vision of mobility, and maybe not for the better.

While European cities are witnessing the same behaviour, authorities also get that coronavirus may wipe out a decade of efforts to detox their citizens from private cars”.

During the first weeks of lifting social distancing measures, we have contemplated that a major shift was happening in modal share of mobility. Public transit is the place where you meet a lot of strangers. A full quarter of media and public obsession about health precautions (which, to a certain extent, was unavoidable) has convinced us that ‘stranger’ rhymes with ‘danger’. Bloomberg quotes Jason Rogers (Nashville, US): “I have no interest in getting on the bus or a ridesharing system unless I’m in a hazmat suit”. The result speaks for itself: in China – first to lift lockdown measures, the ridership of public transit is 35% below normal and congestion is already above 2019 average. The US are reporting a similar trend already.

While European cities are witnessing the same behaviour, authorities also get that coronavirus may wipe out a decade of efforts to detox their citizens from private cars. They had just a bit more time than China to anticipate and devised a few strategies. Betting on bikes is one of them: French Government claims 1,000 km of temporary bicycle lanes have been created and is working to permanently maintain them. The UK are investing up to £2B on “once-in-a-generation” plan to boost walking and cycling. Another interesting move is Athens banning cars from a large part of its city center for 3 months (and maybe more).

Will this be sufficient? These investments are much welcome, but the modal share of cycling has remained flat under 2% in the UK in the past decade and is estimated at about 3% in France. A 10% long-term reduction of ridership in public transit would be sufficient to level the impact of more people cycling. We can still fear a major shift from public transit to cars. In France, which hosts 3 of the handful of worldwide public transport operators (Transdev, Keolis, RATP), representatives of the sector have fought hard – but not very successfully – to avoid strict social distancing measures onboard metros and buses and to rely on masks as the main sanitary measure.

In the end, Transport for London (TfL) did not solve the dilemma of prioritizing congestion or health issues, they raised both the congestion tax on cars and the fares of public transit. At least TfL will not go bankrupt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Rystadenery

Psychological impact

Even now that the French Ministry is considering softening these measures, it is impossible to predict the magnitude of the psychological impact on how people choose their mode of transport. There are precedents: terrorist attacks in Madrid (2004) and London (2005), which targeted public transit, or Paris (2015) which targeted the “night life”. In each case, public transportation actually recovered in a matter of months. The issue is not the same, though: with the virus, it is more public transit itself and its riders which are the objects of people’s fear. We have also been exposed to the social distancing message for much longer and it may last until we have a vaccine.

Sure, people have talked a lot about the crisis as an opportunity to shift to a new trajectory for our civilization, towards decarbonation and resilience. But I hear the same people say: “No way I’m using the train at the moment, I’ll just drive.” As I don’t know much about sociology, I’ll quote an expert in very long adventures, Sylvain Tesson, telling about his travel by foot from Siberia to India: “If I say that I plan to walk all  the way to Mongolia, nobody minds a such abstract goal, but if I claim that I will reach the other side of the mountain, everyone on this side will rebel. […] Because it is what we know best, we fear more what is close to us than what is still far away.” We fear the virus more than climate change.

Sorting our priorities

Climate change and resource depletion are still the two biggest problems that we face worldwide. When the virus hit, we were able to go under lockdown as a last resort to mitigate the effects of the virus. There will be no immediate actions similar to a lockdown that we will be able to take when we face record droughts killing entire crops, when coastal areas inhabited by tens of millions of people are flooded by a combination of sea level rise and extreme weather events.

We will not see flying cars, we will see more low-energy mobility and we should prepare for it”.

 A key fact that I’ve realized few people know is the inertia and latency of GHE-induced climate change. When we added more than 100ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, we committed to hundreds of years of rising temperatures, that is, even if our emissions drop to zero tomorrow. The trajectory of our CO2 emissions will change the magnitude of the climate change, but with a 20-year latency. Managing our emissions now starts to make a difference in 2040. In other words, we will not be able to prevent these issues in 2040, by then we will be late by 20 years (this is 4 French presidential terms, 5 US ones).


Global temperature change predictions based on GHG-scenarios of the IPCC.
Source: Climate model IPSL-CM61-LR

Another key fact going under the radar of public media is the depletion of oil, which powers ~98% of transportation. Oil production has grown strongly after the 2008 economic crisis (completely mindless of the above), but the growth came almost exclusively from the US ‘shale’ plays, while Russia and Saudi Arabia were able to offset the decline of older oil fields (starting with the North Sea in Europe). Before the coronavirus, some experts were already shifting their predictions for US production, stable in 2020 and growing again for at least a few years after. Russia had declared they would peak before 2025 and maybe sooner. Now, with the considerable blow to this industry, investments in new production have been widely cancelled and US oil fields declined rapidly. Some experts point that both US shale and Russia may have reached their peak, and at least will never see significant growth again (compared to 2019 levels). To better understand what this means for our economy, I recommend listening to independent experts of energy transition, The Shift Project. To cut it short: we will not see flying cars, nor mass production of 2.3 ton electric private cars, we will see more low-energy mobility and we should prepare for it.


According to Rystad, oil production and demand will still be under 2019 levels at the end of 2021.
Source: Rystadenergy

What to do?

The mission behind Padam Mobility, the company I co-founded, is “Taking care of shared mobility.” It means we expect less resources in the future, less public acceptance to emit greenhouse gases, but also that we do not give up on mobility. This will not be achieved through more efficient cars. The only way to solve this equation – apart from cycling probably – is to share vehicles more. There are many versions of that, good old public transport, Demand-Responsive Transit (as proposed by Padam Mobility), carpooling, vehicle-sharing economy (provided that it does not cannibalize public transport)… We can still do much more: make energy-efficient modes more convenient and cheaper than the car in cities and suburbs, force all taxis and ride-hailing vehicles in cities to be shared, re-think our streets primarily for public transport, transform our economy to rely less on the jobs of the car-making industry.

Let us follow the health guidelines, wear masks, skip unnecessary travel and take other necessary measures to avoid a new significant wave of coronavirus infections. But let us also trust people around us, learn to share more what can be shared, solve issues in a collaborative way. Our freedom and ability to move in the future depend on that. Just like wearing masks saves lives today, using and promoting public transport today preserves our society in 2040 and beyond.

It is a time to be ambitious about public transportation.

 

Grégoire Bonnat – Co-founder & CEO, Padam Mobility

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