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With Karlstadtsbuss, Padam Mobility kicks off its first Demand-Responsive Transport Service in the Nordics

Karlstadsbuss

KARLSTADSBUSS IS THE FIRST DEMAND-RESPONSIVE TRANSPORT (DRT)-SERVICE TO BE LAUNCHED BY PADAM MOBILITY IN COOPERATION WITH KEOLIS SWEDEN AND THE CITY OF KARLSTAD IN SWEDEN.

Following a simulation phase, a new Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) service pilot will be launched in Karlstad in December 2021. It will connect the peri-urban neighbourhoods of Karstad with the structural Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network. The DRT service will rely on digital solutions developed and provided by Padam Mobility. It will be operated by Keolis Sweden under the flagship of Karlstadsbuss.

The city’s existing main public transport network currently consists of nine fixed lines connecting the outskirt areas with Karlstad’s city centre. Karlstadsbuss, Karlstad’s local transport authority, sought a more intelligent and more effective public transport service that would not only satisfy the mobility needs of all the inhabitants of the province of Värmland but at the same time would be profitable from a financial point of view.

Therefore, Keolis Sweden and Padam Mobility were commissioned to establish an attractive DRT service that would optimally complement the existing transport network. For this upcoming pilot, a test area in the outskirts of Karlstad was selected to be served by the new DRT:  Mjölnartorpet, which connects to the larger area Kronoparken and the shopping area Välsviken.

The service aims to transport users to transport hubs following a “feeder” logic to provide them with a seamless and comfortable mobility experience. This allows them to master the “first or last mile” conveniently and without time constraints, eliminating the need for an individual vehicle. In addition, users who may not have access to a private car or are immobile for other reasons will be able to access Karlstad’s city centre and important facilities. It is expected that the new DRT will significantly increase the overall use of the public transport offer by easily connecting users to Karlstad’s structural BRT network which is set to be completed by 2025.

The service, which will operate under the name Karlstadsbuss, brings decisive advantages for the launch in December 2021: the simulation phase that has already been completed, enables Padam Mobility and Keolis Sweden to better assess how resources ought to be deployed on the basis of the data collected. Based on existing information, potential risks (such as financial liabilities, coordination with the existing network and other high-risk factors) can be minimised.

During the pilot phase, the DRT fleet will be gradually increased from one to two vehicles. The permanent service monitoring and evaluation will facilitate its scaling decisively. In the long term, this will also allow to identify fixed lines which from an economic point of view would be more efficient as on-demand services.

The Karlstadsbuss DRT service will roll out in three phases with increasing service levels. It will be available Sunday to Thursday from 5:00 am to midnight, and throughout the day on Friday and Saturday, between 5:00 am and 3:30 am.

Thanks to the partnership between Padam Mobility and Keolis Sweden, Karlstadsbuss and its users will benefit from a high-tech, on-demand solution that guarantees easy and reliable operation. If the one-year pilot proves successful, the service will be extended to other areas. 

Karlstadsbuss: Why Padam Mobility?

Within the framework of the Karlstadsbuss service operations, Padam Mobility will support the city of Karlstad in the achievement of several objectives:

  • Empowering non-motorized populations in their travel (seniors, minors, etc.) and giving everyone the possibility to reach the city centre easily and seamlessly
  • Reducing dependence on the private car and its negative impacts (pollution, maintenance costs, etc.)
  • Opening up certain low-density areas by providing a public service accessible every day improving access to services and jobs
  • Making the existing fixed-line network more cost-effective and more attractive through a complementing DRT service

About Padam Mobility 

Established in 2014, Padam Mobility provides digital on-demand public transport solutions (DRT, Paratransit) to reconnect peri-urban and rural areas and bring communities closer together. To do this, Padam Mobility provides a software suite of smart and flexible solutions that improve the impact of mobility policies in sparsely populated areas for all types of users. To get users, operators and Local Authorities on the move. This software suite is based on powerful algorithms and artificial intelligence. It includes:

  • Booking interfaces (mobile app, website) for users and call centres
  • A navigation interface (mobile app and tablet) for drivers
  • A management interface for operators and Public Transport Authorities
  • A simulation tool for designing and setting up mobility services 

Transport authorities, operators, private companies and consulting firms trust us to open up territories, to optimise the mobility offer and facilitate its operations, to accompany them towards operational excellence, and finally to enable environmentally-friendly mobility.

Key figures: 

  • +470 000 users transported in 2020 (already 365 000 users transported at the beginning of 2021)  more than 1M users transported since our creation
  • +70 territories deploy our solutions in Europe, Asia and North America
  • 80% pooling rate in average
  • Up to 3.3 x less expensive than a similar offer if operated by fixed lines
  • 33% of our users were previously using private cars, 19% were walking or unable to get around

 

Website | LinkedIn | YouTube |Twitter

 

This article might also interest you: With HertsLynx, Padam Mobility continues its expansion in the UK

 

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Ridepooling, Ridesharing, Ridehailing: which is what?

Ridepooling, ridehailing, ridesharing

With more and more new mobility offers, users are not only confronted with new decision-making possibilities to get from A to B but also with an ever-increasing number of new terms that are often difficult to distinguish from each other.

In this article, we would like to shed light on this and explain the most important definitions of the “new mobility” ecosystem.

Ridesharing

In the most classic sense of the word, the term ridesharing means that a ride is literally “shared”. Passengers and drivers usually find each other via digital platforms and discuss the details of their joint trip directly with each other. Typically, the passengers contribute to the costs of the journey so that both sides benefit: for the driver, using a car gets cheaper and the person travelling with him or her pays significantly less than with another means of transport. And even if ridesharing usually involves a private car, there is at least one less on the road …

Ridepooling

The principle of ridepooling sounds similar to that of ridesharing, however, there are decisive differences: Ridepooling is usually operated by service providers and is linked to certain objectives, such as improving the transport offer in a certain region, doing something for the protection of the environment, being financially rewarding, etc.

In comparison to other means of public transport, such as buses or trains, the services offered by ridepooling providers are usually highly technologised, allowing users to book the service via various digital booking channels, such as an application or a website. In addition, some providers also offer the option to book a ride by phone through a call centre. This booking option is especially helpful for older people who are often less familiar with technical devices.

Not all ridepooling services are created for the same purpose, the service structure can differ considerably from one provider to another. For example, services can be set up to transport passengers from door-to-door, to act as a shuttle service to certain key access points such as the nearest train station, or to be exclusive to employees for a particular company.

At Padam Mobility, that’s exactly what we do – develop tailor-made ridepooling on-demand services and provide advice to municipalities, transport companies and other players in the mobility sector. 

Ridehailing

Ridehailing services operate for commercial purposes as well. The difference is that they can be booked by individuals for a specific ride and do not pick up any other passengers during this ride. The chauffeur-driven services probably come closest to this description.

Usually, there are a number of features that are available to users of ridehailing services. These can be related to the fare, which is displayed to users directly at the time of booking and which can usually be paid directly within the app, or the real-time tracking of the ride on the user’s personal smartphone.

Nevertheless, these services are criticised because, unlike public transport or pooled rides, ride-hailing vehicles add another mode of transport to already congested streets and cause users who might otherwise have travelled by bus or metro to switch to an individual vehicle, which is an additional burden for the environment.

Slugging

Ever heard of it? Admittedly, this term is a rather American phenomenon, but it should nevertheless not be missing from this list, if only because of its curious name. Which, by the way, comes from bus traffic, because bus drivers call counterfeit coins “slugs”. And since in so-called “slugging” people stand in a queue waiting for private drivers to give them a free ride, often waving off bus drivers who think these people are willing passengers, the fake coins soon became “fake” passengers – or “slugs”. 

This type of ridesharing is bound to some specific rules, which are very vividly described in this article.

One important rule, for example, is that the passenger is not expected to pay. Nevertheless, both sides benefit from the shared ride because cars “in full occupation” are allowed to move to a High-Occupancy Vehicle Lane (HOV Lane), while individuals in their cars are often stuck in crowded traffic, which costs time, nerves and money.

Carsharing

When carsharing, users of (a) specific provider(s) share a number of freely available cars. In most cases, the vehicles can be booked, paid for and unlocked via an app, without a third person having to accompany the process. This is particularly practical in urban environments, where owning a car is usually rarely needed.

As with ridehailing, carsharing encourages individual car use but also ensures that there are fewer cars in the area overall. And that is bitterly needed, considering the fact that, according to new research from the RAC Foundation, in the UK, cars are parked for an average of 23 hours a day, covering up valuable space that could be used for green areas or attractive living space, for example.

 

Learn more about Padam Mobility 

This article might also interest you: Propulsion technologies of the future – alternatives for petrol and diesel in public transport 

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With HertsLynx, Padam Mobility continues its expansion in the UK

HertsLynx

Padam Mobility launches HertsLynx, the first DRT in the UK using the Department for Transport’s Rural Mobility Fund (RMF)

On September the 19th 2021, HertsLynx, a new Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) service powered by Padam Mobility and operated by Uno Bus will be launched in the rural areas of the Herts County Council in the UK. It will serve villages in North and East Herts and fixed destinations in Key Hub Towns. The service is expected to ease passenger journeys within these low-density areas and answer crucial mobility needs. 

The HertsLynx service will be the first DRT service in the UK to be funded using the Department for Transport’s Rural Mobility Fund (RMF). To launch the service, the Herts County Council received £1,472,000 (from the overall pot of £20 Million RMF split between 17 councils).

The HertsLynx service is designed to improve connections between rural areas including filling a gap in public transport provision to fill the supply gap for east/west county journeys and access to town centres. Thus expanding access to employment, education, healthcare, and shopping. The proposed scheme will serve North and East Herts, focusing primarily on Buntingford and the surrounding area. Travel will be allowed anywhere within this zone, however passengers will also be able to travel to key points – such as hospitals and high streets – in six surrounding towns: Royston, Baldock, Letchworth, Hitchin, Stevenage and Bishop’s Stortford.

The service will rely on 3 new modern vehicles (operating in Hertfordshire in a free floating configuration) and an additional 2 buses scheduled for the second year (5 vehicles in total). It will operate from 7am to 7pm  Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays and bank holidays. Rides will be able to be booked in real-time or in advance (up to 30 days in advance).

Because the HertsLynx service is powered by Padam Mobility, it can guarantee that confirmed ride bookings will be carried out by the operator. No customers will experience a last minute cancellation, which can happen with other DRT technology solutions.

The service will be launched from 10 am on Sunday 19th September 2021. A stakeholder launch took place on 16th September to highlight the service to the local stakeholders and media. 

Visit the HertsLynx service’s website

HertsLynx: Why Padam Mobility?

Within the framework of the of the HertsLynx service operations, Padam Mobility will support the Herts County Council  in the achievement of several objectives:

  • Empowering non-motorized populations in their travel (seniors, minors, etc.)
  • Reducing dependence on the private car and its negative impacts (pollution, maintenance costs, etc.)
  • Opening up certain low-density areas by providing a public service accessible every day Improving access to services and jobs, in particular improving access to health facilities
  • Digitalising the territory with the introduction of a solution based on optimisation algorithms thanks to artificial intelligence, but also on user friendly interfaces

About Padam Mobility

Established in 2014, Padam Mobility provides digital on-demand public transport solutions (DRT, Paratransit) to reconnect peri-urban and rural areas and bring communities closer together. To do this, Padam Mobility provides a software suite of smart and flexible solutions that improve the impact of mobility policies in sparsely populated areas for all types of users. To get users, operators and Local Authorities on the move. This software suite is based on powerful algorithms and artificial intelligence. It includes :

  • Booking interfaces (mobile app, website) for users and call centres
  • A navigation interface (mobile app and tablet) for drivers
  • A management interface for operators and Public Transport Authorities
  • A simulation tool for designing and setting up mobility services

Transport authorities, operators, private companies and consulting firms trust us to open up territories , to optimise the mobility offer and facilitate its operations, to accompany them towards operational excellence, and finally to enable environmentally-friendly mobility.

Key figures: 

  • +470 000 users transported in 2020 (already 365 000 users transported at the beginning of 2021)  more than 1M users transported since our creation
  • +70 territories deploy our solutions in Europe, Asia and North America
  • 80% pooling rate in average
  • Up to 3.3 x less expensive than a similar offer if operated by fixed lines
  • 33% of our users were previously using private cars, 19% were walking or unable to get around

Website | LinkedIn | YouTube |Twitter

 

This article might interest you : Reconnecting rural territories in the UK: interview with Stuart Eccles, DRT supervisor at Lincolnshire County Council

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Propulsion Technologies of the Future – Alternatives for Petrol and Diesel in Public Transport 

technologies de propulsion

An important principle of shared mobility is to get as much individual traffic off the road as possible because more and more cars also mean more and more CO2 emissions, the equation is simple.

Cars are a central cause of air pollution in Europe and account for a full 60.7% of total CO2 emissions from European road traffic.

Of course, this is especially due to the fact that cars are still widely driven by internal combustion engines. But the share in the distribution of fuel types within the European Union of petrol engines (2018 approx. 52 %) and diesel engines (2018 approx. 40 %) is steadily decreasing. With approx. 60 % (petrol + diesel) to 40 % (electric drive) in 2021, electric propulsion systems and other alternative fuels have caught up significantly.

Time to take a closer look at this development and ask what alternative forms of propulsion technologies are actually available, especially for local public transport, what are the advantages and what challenges exist?

Propulsion Technologies of the Future: Electric Engines

For some time now, we have become accustomed to electric cars on our roads. Most car manufacturers have realised that they need to adapt their portfolios to technological and social change and have started to offer quite affordable electric cars.

All in all, this is a positive trend, because electric cars offer decisive advantages over the combustion engines which have been widespread up to now: they do not emit any direct pollutants and thus avoid smog, especially in big cities. Moreover, they drive much more quietly, which is especially beneficial for residents living near busy roads.

However, a car is still a car, and even if electric cars may pave the way for less emission-heavy road traffic, there are still criticisms that indicate that electric engines are not the magic bullet. Although developers advertise that their electric cars do not emit any direct pollutants, this is by no means the case when it comes to electricity generation and battery production.

Here, it is the carmakers’ responsibility to ensure that battery production does not diminish the eco-balance. In fact, the differences from country to country are considerable, which is why no general statement can be made about the CO2 balance of batteries. 

Another alternative source of propulsion: Natural Gas Engines

Another much more environmentally friendly alternative to diesel and petrol are vehicles powered by CNG (compressed natural gas). Compared to combustion engines, vehicles powered by natural gas save up to 77% in CO2 emissions. Moreover, emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides and particulate matter are almost completely reduced.

Advocates of natural gas propulsion also see a great opportunity for public transport and claim that the available quantities of sustainably produced natural gas are already sufficient to power “all public transport buses” (referring to Germany). The generation of electricity, on the other hand, according to them, is not as mature and is much more harmful to the environment than bio natural gas.  

Despite the good environmental balance, however, this market is developing only very slowly. The main disadvantage is the poor infrastructure of refuelling stations (only about 900 in Germany).

In addition, there are currently only very few manufacturers who are pushing the supply of natural gas vehicles, which will probably make widespread deployment in local public transport very difficult in the long term.

Hydrogen engines – The energy source of the future? 

Just like electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles are equipped with an electric motor. However, the electricity required is not generated by a battery, but by means of fuel cells directly on board. This eliminates the usually long charging process, while the CO2 balance, like with electric vehicles, is similarly positive.

Despite these and other advantages (e.g. long ranges, low-noise operation), hydrogen drives are not yet ready for widespread use in public transport. This is due in particular to the high costs entailed. For example, a bus with a hydrogen fuel cell costs about € 650,000, while a bus with a diesel engine costs about € 200,000 €. To compare: electric buses rank in the middle here with about $ 750,000 (equivalent to approx. € 635,000). 

In addition, hydrogen production is not yet mature enough to make the fuel suitable for mass useTherefore, hydrogen propulsion also requires extensive financial support and a sound political framework. Only then will it be possible to move alternative forms of mobility into the centre of society and make them more attractive, especially for transport providers.

Propulsion technologies: What does this development mean for public transport?

Public transport can definitely benefit from the developments described above. Even though at the moment, people often only talk about individual transport in connection with electromobility, it can be assumed that it will also develop into a dominant element for local public transport.

For example, in the near future, the London transport network is going to be expanded by 68 new zero-emission buses. In addition, the ZeUS project (Zero Emission Urban Bus System) reported that, according to their own research, 19 public transport companies active in 25 European cities, have already submitted plans for a zero-emission bus network. 

But regardless of the efforts to establish a (largely) emission-free public transport system, the question of financing will certainly play a decisive role. A recently published study comparing “clean technologies” in relation to their costs indicates that CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) is currently the most affordable solution for public bus networks, which is why this technology is most often chosen by transport operators worldwide. However, which form of propulsion will ultimately prevail in public transport networks will depend on the national and local circumstances in the energy sector, e.g. taxation of energy sources.

To sum up – where are we now? 

The steadily advancing developments of alternative forms of propulsion are certainly a step in the right direction. In particular, the many discussions about combustion engine substitutes show that people are generally willing to make the switch for environmental reasons. Yes, perhaps even take this turnaround in the mobility sector as an opportunity to get more informed and thus become increasingly open-minded towards other forms of (shared) mobility.

Electric mobility in particular promises opportunities for emission-free transport provided that the production conditions of the electricity are sustainable. Moreover, studies show that electric public transport is more economical in terms of maintenance costs. The money saved could ultimately be used to do (even) more for environmental protection, to enable low-income earners to get a discounted public transport ticket, or to promote transport-on-demand projects that might convince people that there are not only attractive alternative forms of propulsion but also attractive alternatives to owning a car.

 

This article might also interest you: Between Reality and Science-Fiction – Will DRT be autonomous? 

Find out more about Padam Mobility

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

TPMR Royaume-Uni

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

2. Better training of staff

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

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

3. Better Information 

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

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

4. Inclusive (physical) infrastructure

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

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

5. Future of inclusive transport

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

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

 

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

Accessibility – A society-wide responsibility

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

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

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

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

 

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

Find out more about Padam Mobility 

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

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

What is Call Connect ?

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

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

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

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

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

Having the DRT service makes their lives so much easier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it easier for the drivers, too ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So great future then for Call Connect ?

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

 

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

Find out more about Padam Mobility.

 

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

Rural Mobility Webinar

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

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

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

What are the reasons why DRT services remain rather underdeveloped?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the full webinar in replay 

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

 

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

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

Mobility-as-as-service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DRT facilitates economic and social inclusion

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

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

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

DRT is able to address these needs :

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

Increased flexibility to meet changing mobility habits

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gerd Overbeck, Head of New Mobility Services at Hacon

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

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

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Public Transport in United Kingdom : what’s next?

public transport in United Kingdom

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

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

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

The Covid crisis seems set to launch a real transformation. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decisions contested by the operators

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

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

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

 

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

Find out more about Padam Mobility.

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

rural mobility

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

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

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

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

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

Relevance of the mobility offer

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

Quality of service

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

User experience and digital transition 

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

Accessibility and sustainability 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rethinking the mobility offer as a whole

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

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

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

 

Find out more about Padam Mobility

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

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