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DRT & Transport Consulting – Webinar with Xuefei Wang, Jack Holland and Chris Hillcoat – Q&A 

Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) aims to reach people where access to the public transport network is scarce or non-existent, for example in outlying or very rural areas. In fact, the idea of providing people with transportation on demand is not new. However, digitalised on-demand transport optimises the resources used, chooses more efficient routes and operates in such a way that as many people as possible are served at the same time. The concept of DRT is undoubtedly revolutionising the public transport offer, yet it requires careful planning and management. Each area has different characteristics, including its geographical setting, as well as population density, and mobility habits of the citizens, among others. 

To illustrate how Padam Mobility works in setting up DRT services as well as providing insights into the (technical) options available to the Transport Consulting team to model on-demand transport, we hosted a webinar together with Landor Links. Chaired by Chris Hillcoat, mobility expert at KPMG, Xuefei Wang, Head of Transport Consulting, and Jack Holland, Head of Business Development, Northern Europe, exchanged in-depth views from theory and practice.

The interest in the webinar was huge. The audience could ask their questions to the panellists in advance or during the webinar. However, 90 minutes was hardly enough to answer all questions in detail. Therefore, we summarise the most frequently asked questions in the following article. Your question is not included or you would like to contact Xuefei or Jack about another topic? – You can reach them at xuefei@padam.io or jack@padam.io. 

  • When you model a DRT service, what are the most important contextual questions? 

When we model a DRT service, we always aim to fill gaps in the existing public transport offer. This can also mean that a DRT service complements an already fixed line at certain times of the day or that the line is transformed into a DRT service when demand is low, for example at off-peak times. 

There are also various contextual aspects that we include in our analysis: Demographics (Who are potential users and what are their needs?), Geography (What are the points of interest in the area? Are there remote areas?, etc.), Economics (Are there industrial sites in the area? Does it make sense to set up transport for employees?), Mobility (What is the modal split in the area? What other mobility providers are present? How do locals usually get around?) and Policy (Is there a local mobility plan? What funds are available for mobility measures?).

All these aspects can shed light on what kind of DRT services people in an area need and influence the modelling of the service: Use case, service design, size of the fleet, costs, number of potential users, etc. 

  • Do you have guides on the minimum and maximum populations, trip densities etc. which support a successful DRT service? 

Rural services covering vast areas with a free-floating design are likely to have a vehicle occupancy rate of 2 – 3 passengers per hour (at maturity). 

Peri-urban services with quite densely populated areas are likely to have occupancy rates of 3 – 5 passengers per hour with a free-floating design. It could be possible to have 6+ in certain service designs if the ingredients are right – such as feeder or virtual lines to a popular transport hub or workplace in peak times. 

Minimum population – DRT can cover extremely rural areas, but high subsidies would have to be considered.

Maximum population – In European urban areas with strong bus networks and other public transport, DRT is unlikely to be needed or have a positive effect on congested roads. Here, the focus should be on mass public transport.

  • What are some of the characteristics of rural areas in relation to DRT? Do these characteristics make it easier or harder to operate? 

In very rural areas, the distance between destinations is greater, so bundling can be less efficient than in suburban areas. In this case, feeder services in combination with free-floating can be a good service concept, and attempts should also be made to combine D2D-Dial-a-Ride with DRT from bus stop to bus stop.

In addition, deploying EVs is a big challenge in rural areas. Minibuses are a real challenge for battery capacity as they do not have a large footprint for battery capacity, unlike full sizes buses. 

There may also be signal problems with the internet, which can disrupt operations. One solution could be using a multi-sim onboard router that picks up different internet providers. Another solution is to print the itinerary for the day as a PDF file so that the driver can use it as a reference, but this would only list the pre-booked passengers, which means less flexibility for cancellations and bookings on that day.

  • What are some of the common misunderstandings about DRT you see in tenders from local and regional authorities? 

DRT services with only one vehicle can cover a large area, but can also only reach a very small number of passengers and are therefore often insufficient for residents.

In the UK, most DRTs focus on the free-floating service as a one-size-fits-all service solution. However, from a commercial point of view, other service concepts often involve lower subsidies – semi-flexible, virtual and feeder services can complement free-floating at peak times by targeting demand in specific areas.

Compared to the US, France and Scandinavian countries, we are not yet as advanced in integrating DRT with other modes of transport, such as dial-a-ride, door-to-school, taxi, etc. However, such integration would help to reduce the overall cost of implementation.

Also, pricing in tenders is often based on a trip-per-vehicle model. However, for larger projects, per-trip models may work much better.

  • How can DRT contribute to accessibility and inclusion?

Studies suggest that lack of access to transport puts people at a much greater risk of social isolation. This can in turn lead to high levels of funding needed for healthcare, lack of work, and lack of access to vital goods and services. DRT and dial-a-ride (plus community transport) are essential for serving these areas.

Transport for the North estimates that 3.3 million people in the North of England, or 21.3% of the population, live in areas in which there is a relatively high risk of social exclusion because of issues with the transport system. These areas are widely distributed across the North but are particularly concentrated in former manufacturing and mining communities, in coastal areas, and in smaller towns and cities. The research tells us that high levels of car dependency are the key driver of TRSE (transport-related social exclusion) in the North. This has been exacerbated by declining bus service provision – reducing the travel choices for the most vulnerable people in our communities

  • How does DRT interact with other public transport modes, individually and in a MaaS platform? Can it create efficiencies for bus companies?

One of our most important principles is the integration of DRT into the existing transport network. Non-competition is a very effective tool for this, ensuring that DRT services do not cannibalise fixed bus services. The non-competition feature allows users to be directed to the existing fixed-route service instead of offering a DRT ride.

MaaS is an important concept to integrate DRT as a first and last-mile solution to connect people to existing services. In doing so, feeder services, for example, can effectively take people from their desired stop to key nodes, such as train stations.

  • How do you create a DRT proposition which fills the gap in general transport provision and doesn’t detract from fixed route services whilst also being easy for customers to understand? 

Padam Mobility has recently launched a new feature that allows displaying alternative fixed-line services and redirecting users directly to these services. In this way, we achieve that DRT services do not compete with the existing fixed bus line network and thus become counterproductive.  

  • Do you have examples of how to get integration between DRT and mainline bus services and the railway network? 

Yes, we can use bus and railway timetables in the back office. This schedules the DRT service to meet the timetable (e.g. 5 minutes before). Our best use case for this is the Greater Paris region. We operate 125 vehicles that serve more than 60 metro stations. This generates 700,000 trips each year that connect people to the metro or intercity train. 

We also operate another scheme in Strasbourg using 40 electric minibuses which expands the tram network into the rural areas surrounding the line terminus. 

  • Scheme economics have always been a challenge for this type of scheme. How would you go about making the best case possible in any given situation? 

We believe that DRT funding should be looked at across the silos of funding, not solely on DRT-specific funding. This should look at existing Community Transport funding, dial-a-ride funding, home-to-school and Section 106 Grant Funding to create a long-term funding plan for DRT.

 

This article could might interest you as well: Transport planning and DRT 

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Transport planning and DRT

survey
An Article by Beate Kubitz

Some areas of the UK have become transport deserts, served by public transport a few times per week if at all. This worrying trend has come into focus as the need to cut transport emissions has become more pressing. At the same time, social and economic issues (for instance the productivity gap between the UK and its European neighbours) point to the absence of public transport as a factor in deprivation and economic lassitude.

Reversing the desertification trend is a tricky long term project, but it’s one that progressive local authorities are tackling.

The Padam Moblity transport planning team works on how to use DRT to help ensure that more people have better access to public transport. We use our transport planning tools analyse the existing transport network and the population and work out the best way to link them together. From this analysis we can simulate usage to show authorities the journeys we would anticipate, and look at different scenarios and configurations. This is an inexpensive way to help authorities make decisions about their network and where DRT can improve it. Once we have demonstrated different options we use them to suggest DRT pilots and their impacts.

Transport connections and fixed routes can be a difficult match, particularly in rural areas. To illustrate the kinds of situations we tackle, imagine you’re trying to get passengers to a railway station where trains leave every 30 minutes in each direction – so, every hour there’s a train to Town A or Town B. This frequency of service isn’t unusual for a smaller rural station – indeed you could argue it’s pretty good these days – but it creates headaches for anyone planning a feeder service using a fixed route bus.

Bus speeds on rural roads aren’t stellar. On smaller roads, or passing through settlements, they may be around 20 mph average speed moving (not including stops). Even if the overall average speed is 20 mph, this means the longest possible route you can cover with a single vehicle while still offering an hourly connecting service is 10 miles (because the bus will need to make a return journey too). Once you factor in the distance users are willing to walk to stops (which can be very low for elderly passengers, or anyone with small children in tow) the population covered by a service shrinks still further.

Then there is the question of when to drop off and pick up your passengers at the station. The wait for a connection affects not just the journey time but also its overall quality, especially if it’s at a small station with no facilities. Ideally there needs to be enough time between the bus arriving and the train departing that a couple of minutes’ lateness won’t cause a missed connection, but also not so much that passengers are left waiting on a cold, exposed station platform for a protracted period of time. If the bus visits the station every hour, it might be the case that it can only connect well with services to Town A, while the train to Town B may involve a wait of 20 or 30 minutes.

What about passengers arriving to catch the connecting service? You could factor in some layover time at the station but that would reduce the overall length of route than you can serve while still keeping the same frequency.

Under these circumstances the DRT model of putting in a booking via a call centre or an app, being collected from outside or near your front door, and being able to divert or change should something happen to the connecting train, starts to look very appealing.

A second advantage for DRT is that the buses can take a more direct route. If a fixed bus route is programmed to travel near more homes (enabling it to pick up more people) this generally means diverting the route so that it’s not direct. For instance, it may pass through a housing estate off the main journey trajectory or, in rural areas, via a village, creating a less direct and much longer route with more stops. Obviously there is no guarantee that there will be people at all those stops, however the bus is still obliged to follow the time table. This extends the lengths of journeys making them longer than the equivalent trip by car, often by several times the journey time. In contrast, DRT only diverts to pick up known passengers, and whilst the trip will be longer than the trip by car, the difference is much smaller.

All these considerations go into designing the provision of DRT. But it doesn’t stop there. Once there is a pilot in place our transport planning team can simulate different scenarios to work out how to improve performance. Are more vehicles required at certain times of day or could some be cut and journeys reorganised to ensure the same performance?

The longer term impact is that the network is being designed with knowledge of where people want to go. DRT bookings enable us to see the desire lines for transport – the most popular origins and destinations for journeys. Origins and destinations, together with the times of day people are requesting trips, create indicators we look for to see whether the routes can be adapted to semi-fixed or fixed at certain times of day. As ridership increases, this becomes more likely and more practical. Using desired trips on DRT as a guide also means that any fixed lines can be optimised for the journeys people want to make. Of course, the limitations of fixed lines won’t meet everyone’s needs, so it’s unlikely to completely remove the need for DRT, however, creating a mixed of fixed and DRT services can optimise the overall network.

With the tool of DRT in our transport planning toolbox, we can design a network to meet more people’s needs, more of the time – and start to make transport deserts bloom.

 

This article might interest you as well: Accessing rural bus services – how can we ensure equity? 

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Accessing rural bus services – How can we ensure equity? – Q&A

Hertfordshire County Council has been providing the HertsLynx on-demand service since 2021. The service was the first Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) to be funded by the Rural Mobility Fund, with the council receiving a total of £1.4 million in funding from the UK Department for Transport in spring 2021.

The DRT, developed by Padam Mobility, was designed to improve the mobility challenges of the rural area. In north east Hertfordshire, public transport services were infrequent and sparse. A total of 10 neighbourhoods, with a population of around 4,000 people, had no access to a public bus at all, with the deprivation that entails. These people relied on a private car to get to work, go shopping or attend leisure activities, and if they did not have access to one, relied on family, friends and neighbours for all their transport needs.

The newly introduced HertsLynx service was implemented in areas where commercial services do not operate for economic reasons. The 400 km² service area covers six Key Town Hubs connected to the rural areas. Rather than following a fixed route, the on-demand service transports users in a free-floating configuration along the fastest route to their destination. All existing bookings are processed by an algorithm and calculated in such a way that as many passengers as possible are grouped together in the same vehicle.

Rapid uptake of the Hertfordshire County Council HertsLynx on-demand service and its digitised Dial-a-Ride service demonstrates the impact that accessible public transport can have on the quality of life of people in rural areas.

In a recent webinar, hosted in partnership with Landor Links, Alice Missler, DRT/Community Transport Team Leader at HCC, and James West, UK Business Development Manager at Padam Mobility, talked about what sets the HertsLynx service part and what makes it successful. There was great interest in the webinar and the limited time available made it almost impossible to answer all the participants’ questions. The following Q&A answers some of the most frequently asked questions. We are of course also available for a personal discussion if you are interested in our services. Please contact Jack Holland (jack@padam.io) or James West (james@padam.io).

Q&A from the Padam Mobility Webinar, 10 May 2023, presented by Landor Links and hosted by Matthew Clark, Steer:

Alice Missler, Matthew Clark and James West discussing “Accessing rural bus services – How can we ensure equity?”
The HertsLynx DDRT service
  • Can the current HertsLynx fare allow the service to operate commercially rather than having to be funded?
    • Ticket revenue alone is currently not sufficient to make the HertsLynx service economically viable. The ultimate goal is to reach people without access to a functioning public transport service. The HertsLynx service will continue to rely on funding in the future, but efforts are already underway to make the service more efficient by, for example, combining the DRT with school trips and other use cases.
  • How have you promoted the service (to different target groups)?
    • By increasing accessibility and creating awareness. For example, the service hours were extended at weekends. The HertsLynx evening service runs on Friday and Saturday from 20:00 to 23:30 in the regular HertsLynx area and gives young people, in particular, more freedom in their leisure activities.
  • Is there still an impact of the pandemic on user numbers?
    • The HertsLynx service was launched at the height of the covid19 pandemic, which was reflected in the user numbers at launch. Today, the impact post-pandemic on passenger numbers is hardly noticeable. Passenger numbers have increased significantly since the service was introduced.
  • Has the £2 cap attracted new bus users or only helped existing ones?
    • We have seen a slight increase in ridership, although this cannot necessarily be traced back to the £2 cap. However, making public transport affordable for all is certainly important and impacts how people perceive public transport.
  • How can users pay for a ticket?
    • HertsLynx is a cashless service. When registering in the app, users need to provide their debit/credit card details so that rides can be charged to that card. There is also the option to buy credits.
  • How will users be warned if there is a problem with the vehicle (e.g. a breakdown) and the trip cannot be carried out?
    • We can display current messages both on our website or via the app and inform users about timetable changes on time. We recommend allowing push notifications to receive the latest news directly.
  • How can older people who don’t have a smartphone book a ride with the service?
    • There are several ways to book a trip with the HertsLynx service. Users who do not want to book via the app can alternatively book a journey via phone or website.
  • Is there data (e.g. origin and destination) to show whether services are successfully targeting people with limited access to transport?
    • Yes, we collect movement data that shows at which stops in the service area users get on and off. As the service area was set up to provide non-served or underserved places with a reliable public transport service, we can assess where the service is successfully fulfilling this task. This data analysis is very important to guarantee that the service is deployed in a way that meets the HCC’s objective.

      Area before the introduction of the DDRT and graphic of the HertsLynx service area: It can be clearly seen that the service area serves the previously free area (no public transport stops).
DRT provided by Padam Mobility
  • How does the interchange between DRT services and bus, coach or rail services work?
    • The existing public transport network is of great importance when setting up a DRT service. It is possible, for example, to integrate the regional train timetable into the on-demand platform and create services that are subject to certain time constraints.
  • Who receives the data generated by the service?
    • Padam Mobility’s customers get all the data collected about a service and have sovereignty over the use of the data.
  • What is the difference in booking when offering a service from “point to point” rather than “door to door”?
    • In the case of a door-to-door booking, users can specify their home as a pick-up or drop-off point and be transported from there to a desired point. This configuration is particularly used for paratransit trips to facilitate access to mobility for users with reduced mobility. When booking stop-to-stop or point-to-point, users choose fixed or virtual stops in their proximity from where they want to start or end their trip. Virtual stops are usually set up close together so that users have short walks. They are not physically visible or are usually marked with a small sign or similar. Services running between virtual stops are usually faster as they deviate less from their routes to pick up passengers.
  • How high are the staffing requirements for DRT services compared to scheduled bus services? Considering the shortage of qualified bus drivers, higher staffing requirements could be an obstacle to the introduction of a DRT system.
    • DRT services reduce driver requirements and improve recruitment. DRT services often have a smaller fleet of vehicles than fixed-route buses so fewer drivers are needed to cover the area. In addition, DRT fleets consist of minibuses with about 6 to 16 seats. With the common driving licence class B, it is possible to operate a minibus with up to eight seats.

 

Learn more about the webinar (article)

Rewatch the webinar (YouTube link) 

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Accessing rural bus services – how can we ensure equity?

hertslynx
Article by Beate Kubitz

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

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

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

Buntingford

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Services designed to connect people

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

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

HertsLynx

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

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

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

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

 

[1] ONS  https://www.ons.gov.uk/visualisations/censuspopulationchange/E07000242/

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

[3] Morgan, Malcolm, Anable, Jillian, & Lucas, Karen. (2021). A place-based carbon calculator for England. Presented at the 29th Annual GIS Research UK Conference (GISRUK), Cardiff, Wales, UK (Online): Zenodo. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4665852

 

 

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Why does Transport Consulting matter? – A conversation with mobility engineer and transport consultant Xuefei Wang

Business values
Xuefei Wang, Team Lead Transport Consulting at Padam Mobility
Xuefei Wang, Team Lead Transport Consulting at Padam Mobility

There is no one-fits-all solution for DRT services. The introduction of new mobility systems in a specific area requires a great deal of expertise and precise analysis to ensure that services are successful, i.e. that they meet customer and user needs in the best possible way. Transport consulting is therefore a key area for Padam Mobility. In-house mobility consultants and engineers help customers develop the on-demand service that can best solve their existing public transport problems.

One of these mobility experts is Xuefei Wang. Xuefei has been working at Padam Mobility for four years, starting as Customer Success Manager. His intensive experience in multiple areas of the company makes him one of the most experienced mobility consultants at Padam today. In the interview, he told us more about his passion for transport consulting. We also talked about which steps are necessary to be able to create the perfect service design. Among other things, we touched on the importance of data and the courage to innovate.

How did you come to Padam Mobility and what is your job like today?

I have been working at Padam for over 4 years now. I started as an intern in the Customer Success Team and then worked as a Customer Success Manager for about 2 years. 2 years ago we founded the Transport Consulting Team, I was in the founding team and for about a year now and I have been leading this team”.

What is your professional or academic background?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from one of the leading universities in China, Tsinghua University. After that, I started working in a young tech start-up in the field of logistics/mobile applications in China. I was one of the founding members and the Director of Operations from 2016 to 2018. Later in 2018, I came to France and spent a year at École des Ponts ParisTech doing a Master’s in Transport and Sustainable Development”.

What do you understand by ‘Transport Consulting’ in your current function? What services does Padam Mobility offer in this context?

At Padam Mobility, it is very important to us to answer our customers’ needs in the best possible way. That is why we established the Transport Consulting Team. At that time, we particularly noticed how much customers and potential customers need advice from experts in the field of on-demand transport in order to make the right decisions. Although they are interested in on-demand services, they lack the necessary expertise to set up such services. For example, they don’t know how many vehicles they will need, how much the service will cost, etc. So they need help and advice to set everything up. Over the years we have gathered an enormous amount of knowledge and data about on-demand transport services, this data is probably one of the most important assets of this company today. We can help our customers solve their problems and make decisions, save money, and simultaneously offer a high-quality public mobility service.

My previous role as Customer Success Manager prepared me perfectly for this position. Customer Success Managers work closely with the customer, especially in the phase between the procurement decision and the launch of the service. It is essential to understand exactly what the customer needs and how the software can meet those needs. However, through my studies, I gained further knowledge, not only in using the Padam software but also in transport engineering, which helps me support customers with very complex and complicated problems”.

What are the different steps that comprise a transport consultancy? How do you approach a new client’s project?

I compare the work of our team to the work of a doctor. We have patients and we have to find out what they are missing and how we can help them. We start by making what is called a “territorial diagnosis” which begins with general questions such as what problem does the client want to solve? Why do they want to set up an on-demand transport service? For example, do the client have fixed, costly bus routes or want to expand public transport services? We can derive what the later solution can look like based on the needs.

Then we need certain demographic data, for example where do people live, where do they work, where do they recreate, what is the age structure, etc. and geographical information, such as what does the area look like, and what are the special features? We also ask about political and economic structures. All this information can influence our recommendations. There are different ways to get information: In Europe, there are often openly accessible data that are freely provided by public institutions, for example. We also ask our clients for data, sometimes they have already conducted user surveys on mobility or they have operational data from the existing transport offer. After analysing all this data, it is possible for us to understand how people move in certain areas.

In some cases, we can already make recommendations for the future on-demand service design after the diagnosis. This is partly because we already have a lot of experience with this process and are able to say which configurations are suitable for a certain type of territory. Sometimes, however, we have to dig deeper, for example, if the client wants more info or if the territory is very large or particular. In this case, we have the possibility to create simulations. Besides territorial diagnostics, this is the second service our team offers to clients. For this, we have a specially developed tool called “Padam Simulations”, which uses the same algorithms as our on-demand solution. It allows us to see exactly how our software reacts in certain situations. We usually simulate one day, which means we create a set of vehicles that have to serve realistic customer flows at certain times. Once we have created these parameters, we start the simulation. By doing this, we can see how the service would perform under real conditions. For example, if we see in the later evaluation that trips were rejected at certain times, it is possible that not enough vehicles were deployed”.

That means you also focus on worst case scenarios?

We usually create many different scenarios and also change the service design. There can be thousands of possible scenarios, so we discuss in advance with the client which specific scenarios to run.

The good thing about “Padam Simulations” is the qualitative results. We can see how many vehicles are needed at what time and with how many seats, what the service design should look like, i.e. free-floating, feeder, virtual line and so on. With this information, we can make very precise proposals.

Do you also pay attention to whether there are existing fixed bus routes or other means of public transport and how they might influence the performance of the DRT?

Exactly, these considerations are already taken into account in the territorial diagnosis, which is what the simulation is based on, so the existing public transport network is always taken into account”.

What happens if you can’t collect enough data before the simulation?

It is actually particularly difficult to predict how many people might use the service. If there is absolutely no historical data for this, we have to model the demand. This is where our experience from other projects and the skills that we bring as transport engineers help us enormously”.

Are there other services besides territorial diagnostics and simulation that you and your team offer to clients?

So far, what we have been talking about is the Feasibility Study, which includes territorial diagnostics, simulations and finally service design proposals. That is a big part of what we offer as a Transport Consulting Team. The other part of our services we call “Professional Services”. We offer these services to existing clients. They consist of the performance analysis of the service. Here we analyse the data of the service and try to further improve certain KPIs, such as pooling rate, customer satisfaction, etc. We also provide certain tools that help the client to monitor and understand their service in the best possible way”.

What is your experience with setting up virtual stops?

Virtual stops can be set up, for example, if the customer wants to offer users of on-demand services a narrow network of stops in order to keep the walking distance as short as possible. These stops can be made visible with a dot in the app, for example. I see virtual stops critically, as it can be difficult for users to orient themselves if they do not find a physical stop. Some of our clients solve this dilemma with a compromise and, for example, place small signs or stickers at the respective locations”.

Do you have any tips for transport authorities or other public mobility service providers on how to successfully introduce a DRT service?

On-demand transport works differently from traditional public passenger transport, but we see time and again that customers equate DRT with virtual lines, i.e. a service that follows a fixed line configuration. There is some fear of moving away from this and onto a different model, such as zonal on-demand transport. Although we have already seen that dividing the service area into smaller zones can achieve good results, clients are often sceptical at first. Therefore, I think mobility designers should think more innovatively in this regard.

Marketing also plays an important role. Users often do not know at the beginning what DRT is and how they can use it. So user communication plays an important role. We can see very well at the beginning of a new service the effect of marketing measures. If users feel well-informed, trip numbers usually increase rapidly. By the way, if clients need support on this point, they also have the opportunity to be advised by our marketing team at Padam Mobility. We can give tips on how to communicate the function of on-demand services and how best to reach customers.

Another important topic is introducing customers to digitalisation. We have a client who already had an on-demand service, however, all bookings were done through a call centre, which was costly and not very practical. So the client was looking to encourage users to make more bookings through the app. Consequently, the client instructed the call centre staff to ask users if they knew about the app booking option every time they received a call. As a result, the number of call centre bookings dropped from 100% to about 60% in only a few weeks”.

What other tips can you give clients to reduce costs?

There are several examples of customers who have managed to reduce the cost of their on-demand service. For example, by combining different services that were used for different user groups, such as transport for schoolchildren, transport for people with reduced mobility and users without special needs. This way, vehicles are better utilised and resources are saved.

It is also possible to start off services as pilot projects in order to minimise the risk of failure. We also advise starting with small zones and fewer vehicles and then gradually increasing the service area and fleet. Adding new areas on a platform is much easier than fundamentally rebuilding the service”.

What future projects are in the pipeline? Can we advise customers on on-demand AV services, for example?

Certainly. We have a dedicated AV team at Padam and also some live services. So we are already in a position to advise clients on the implementation of on-demand AV services”.

Thank you for your time, Xuefei!

 

This article might also interest you: AV in public road transport – A cutting-edge technology

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Decarbonisation: Reducing emissions with buses

Decarbonisation is a pressing concern, particularly in Gloucestershire, where local authorities have agreed to work together on a county-wide project to achieve net zero by 2045.

One of the biggest issues facing the county is that rural areas have, on average, much higher CO2 emissions per person than urban areas, particularly in transport. In this article, we look at the connection between car dependency and carbon dioxide emissions, and the options for reducing car trips.

Carbon and cars

Rural people, in general, own more cars and drive more often and longer distances than people in cities. Overall people living in rural areas will travel an average of 6,449 miles per year, compared to 3,661 miles by their urban counterparts, and will make 401 trips by car, compared to urban travellers’ 245. Rural people will conversely make far fewer trips by bus than their urban counterparts. This reliance on cars contributes to overall carbon footprints from transport which are much higher in rural areas than in cities – Gloucestershire is no exception. Whilst some areas of the city of Gloucester score better than the England average on car emissions per person, only a few locations in the surrounding area can claim to be better than average, with most of the area very much below average, and a significant chunk in the worst 10%. These tend to correlate with the most rural areas, with dispersed populations.

 

Source (both graphics): gov.uk

Back to bus?

The key to reducing car emissions lies in the provision of alternatives. Those areas with high car emissions correlate strongly with low density and infrequent public transport. Decades of increasing car use have eroded both the demand for and the provision of bus services, locking areas into car dependency and leaving people without cars with very few options. Whilst electric car sales are increasing, enabling some people to reduce their carbon footprint by replacing their vehicles, it’s not a solution for all. Public transport provides an equitable and inclusive path to low-carbon travel, for drivers and non-drivers alike.

It’s fair to say that this is a difficult time to be advocating the increase in the provision of public transport. Conditions have been very challenging across all areas of the UK, however, in particular, rural public transport has been pared back to reduce costs through reductions in the frequency of services and the reach of the network[1]. This further degrades the attractiveness of services, as it’s generally recognised that people only view the bus as a useful mode of transport where buses are frequent and the time penalty for using them over personal cars is small. In areas where this is not the case, the bus is used by those with no other option.

Reversing this trend to reduce car dependency however, requires better services and, in this context, the role of buses is being revisited.

Designing with DRT

Designing bus routes for rural areas can be tricky. The distances across rural areas are relatively long, and creating a frequent (at least hourly) service can require multiple buses to service each route. In addition, the mileage per bus per day can quickly add up, with buses often travelling over a hundred miles a day. On a commercial basis, the number of people living in – and therefore travelling between – smaller villages is unlikely to generate the numbers of fares and therefore the total sums to cover driver time and vehicle costs for these trips. Such services often fall to local authorities to fund, and the holders of the public purse strings need to understand how best to get value for public funds.

In these situations, to give people the option to travel, designing ‘on demand’ services can reach more people without the costs incurred by setting up fixed lines.

The DfT, through the Rural Development Fund has funded a number of DDRT – dynamic demand responsive transport – services to test the technology and evaluate the outcomes.

Two DDRT zones were launched in rural areas of Gloucestershire, one in the north of the Cotswold district (population density 78 people per km2) and one in the Forest of Dean  (population density 165 persons per km2). In the areas covered by the new service, the Robin, it is as low as 28 persons per km2 in the Sandywell, Ermin and Cedworth MSOA, and as high as 994 persons per km2 in Coleford[2].

In the Forest of Dean, DDRT service reaches across the area, with virtual bus stops within the reach of over half of the total population of the Forest of Dean (87,107) within a 10-minute walk. Bus routes travel between the towns, on fixed lines with community transport operating some rural routes some days per week. To augment existing services, two mini-buses offer people the option to book trips ‘on demand’ – in reality, this means from two weeks to an hour before they travel. People have taken to using the DDRT service to make trips that are not covered by fixed-line buses, it enables people to make trips beyond those areas served and on days that services don’t run.

In north Cotswolds, where the population is smaller – just 18,909 people – and even less dense, fixed routes make very little sense. However, the DDRT stops cover a similar proportion of the population, again with over 50% of people living within a 10 minute walk of a virtual bus stop.

Providing people with buses is not a short-term solution. Changing behaviour takes time – car dependency took several generations to reach this point, and rolling it back is unlikely to be immediate.

The first step is to provide an alternative that will enable people to travel when they need to, and DRT enables such a service to be put in place.

 

[1] https://bettertransport.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/legacy-files/research-files/buses-in-crisis-2015.pdf

[2] https://inform.gloucestershire.gov.uk/media/2108954/mid-2020-population-estimates-final.pdf and https://www.ons.gov.uk/census/maps/choropleth/population/population-density/population-density/persons-per-square-kilometre?lad=E07000078

 

 

 

You might also like this article: WeCommute, powered by Padam Mobility, to offer smart commuting solutions 

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Autonomous vehicles in public road transport – a cutting-edge technology

AV in Lyon

The introduction of autonomous vehicles (AV) onto public roads is no longer a distant fantasy. The technology is very much in use in different contexts across the world. However, how it is applied and what it is used for has the potential to create very different futures. In this article, we look at the way on-demand autonomous vehicles could fundamentally revolutionise public transport to provide better services, with lower environmental impacts which optimise value for money.

Indeed, using autonomous vehicles to improve public transport provides a safer, well-regulated framework for allowing driverless vehicles on the public highway. In contrast, concerns about privately owned autonomous vehicles are growing, with questions around their safety, interaction with pedestrians and cyclists and indeed the potential for congestion caused by an increased number of low occupancy vehicles, however ‘smart’ they are.

Increased safety in road traffic

Safety is one of the most important concerns in public transport, and public transport operators have extremely high standards to ensure the safety of passengers and the general public. The testing and use of autonomous vehicles within this framework will promote the safety benefits of autonomous vehicles and enable the development of best practice more rapidly and effectively.

For example, a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute showed that autonomous vehicles have the potential to prevent up to 92% of accidents caused by human error.

Improved efficiency of public transport

By deploying autonomous vehicles on-demand as part of public transport, traffic flows can be managed more easily and public transport can be matched more closely to demand. A study by the Swedish transport authority Trafikverket found that autonomous buses in the city of Stockholm could reduce traffic by up to 80 per cent by reacting more flexibly to traffic situations and using roads more efficiently. This is supported by a McKinsey Global Institute study which found that autonomous shuttles can reduce private car use by 20 per cent and thus increase road transport capacity.

Environmental benefits

Autonomous vehicles work well within the electrification of transport, contributing to a reduced impact on the environment from public road passenger transport. Thanks to their intelligent routing, which leads to a reduction in congestion and traffic jams, the emission of harmful pollutants is further reduced. According to a study by the University of California, Berkeley, the use of autonomous vehicles in public transport could reduce emissions by up to 90 percent.

Cost savings

Autonomous vehicles do not require drivers, reducing costs for operators. This is particularly critical for services which are less intensively utilised but still needed to enable people to have access to public transport. According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, the use of autonomous vehicles in local public transport in Europe could save up to 30 percent of operating costs. Another study by the consulting firm Roland Berger shows that self-driving vehicles in local public transport could save up to 50 percent of operating costs by 2030. Whilst drivers may not be required, remote operators may still be needed to oversee the fleet.

Saving time and resources thanks to intelligent routing can also achieve a significant reduction in operating costs. On-demand services that use autonomous vehicles, can calculate exactly how many vehicles should be deployed at what time and how effective utilisation can be achieved, just like all DRT services from Padam Mobility, thanks to intelligent algorithms. This sustainable use of resources is a key factor in cost savings for public transport.

Improved services and inclusion

On-demand autonomous vehicles increase the availability of public mobility services. This is particularly important in remote areas where public transport is scarce. Autonomous vehicles in combination with on-demand services can offer a flexible alternative that is more accessible to many people than traditional public transport. This enables elderly people are no longer mobile, or young people who cannot drive themselves, to participate more in social life.

Autonomous vehicles can also improve mobility for people with reduced mobility. Through the use of barrier-free autonomous vehicles, elderly or mobility-impaired people are able to move around without having to rely on the help of others. On-demand AV services allow them to make more spontaneous decisions, which increases their independence.

Saving space

Autonomous on-demand services in public transport can play a significant role in optimising spatial usage. By using autonomous vehicles that operate on demand, public transport can be better matched to the actual demand. Unlike traditional public transport, which runs on fixed routes and schedules, autonomous on-demand services can respond flexibly to passenger demands. This can help increase the use of public transport by making it easier and more convenient to get from point A to point B. Ultimately, this can in turn help to reduce the number of private vehicles on the roads, which can lead to a reduction in traffic.

Autonomous on-demand services can therefore help to make public space more attractive, for example by reducing parking space and thus creating more space for pedestrian routes and recreational areas.

Public vs. Private?

The use of autonomous vehicles for public transport has the potential to help make public transport safer, more efficient, more environmentally friendly, more cost-effective and more inclusive.

However, the introduction of autonomous technology has provoked debate and raised concerns. There is a particular fear that the technology is not mature enough and that technical errors and accidents may occur. This seems to be very much the case where automotive manufacturers are racing to be first to market with consumer products to capture the mass market. However,  in a public transport context, the industry has a gold standard approach prioritising safety and enabling scrutiny within open regulatory frameworks. Indeed the safety culture of the rail and airline industry provides assurances that cannot be matched for people driving their own vehicles.

Likewise, the nature of driverless vehicles are likely to benefit transport operators who are reporting that is has become very difficult to recruit new bus drivers. It has become quite common that trips have to be cancelled due to a lack of staff. In areas that have problems finding staff, autonomous vehicles can be a remedy. This makes the technology an important tool in providing reliable and cost-effective mobility services that users can fully trust.

The transition to mainly autonomous driving in local public transport certainly brings hurdles and major challenges. However, the aspects of road safety and environmental protection are almost impossible to ignore. Only attractive public transport that is accessible and available will encourage people to switch to shared transport. On-demand autonomous vehicles, unlike human-driven vehicles, have the key advantages that can help public transport become the most popular means of mobility in the long term.

 

 

Learn more about Padam Mobility’s AV solutions

This article might also interest you: EU-funded ULTIMP project brings Padam Mobility on board as technology partner for new AV projects 

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Driver shortage: Why Transport on Demand can improve the situation

The lack of workforce in public transport is a structural and widespread problem. Demand-responsive transport (DRT), which makes it possible to employ drivers who “only” have a class B driving licence, could improve the situation in the long term.

Long hours and low wages – bus driving seems to be becoming increasingly unattractive in many regions of Europe, including the UK. According to a study published by the BBC at the end of 2022, one in 10 jobs is vacant. The shortage of available bus drivers leads to services being cancelled, which in turn fuels concerns that public transport is unreliable. Yet a well-functioning public transport system and a healthy demand for it are important to guarantee optimal freedom of movement for people who, for various reasons, cannot be autonomously mobile. So how can we break the vicious circle and make public transport attractive for both drivers and passengers?
A VERSATILE AND FULFILLING PROFESSION

Demand-responsive transport (DRT) is an opportunity for public policy makers to address labour shortages in the public transport sector. At the same time, it offers conveniences for drivers and operators that traditional services often do not have:

  • Minibuses used in on-demand transports are often up to 9 seats and can be driven with a standard class B driving license. Not only is this a way for entry-level drivers to get a job more easily, but it also allows operators to recruit and train new staff more quickly.
  • The vehicles are more compact, easier to drive and manoeuvre.
  • According to our customers’ experiences, the pleasant working conditions of the drivers and the often personal relationship with the passengers contribute to a very good working atmosphere.

For me, [the job] is a way to make genuine contact with the passengers. Some of the passengers even tell us a bit about their lives. A teenage girl I drive every day told me that thanks to the service, custody is now better shared between her parents”.

Mylène, 48, driver of one of the Transdev Darche-Gros buses used for the on-demand service IDFM

Adriano, driver of the TCL on-demand service in Lyon

The drivers are friendly, which is great. You can talk to them, which is not that easy on a bus and not at all on a tram. It’s nice to exchange stories and it makes the journey shorter […] Over time, you get to know the drivers. Last year, when a driver left, we said goodbye warmly”.

A user of the Resa’Tao service in Orléans.

We have a lot of regular users, which means that we build up a certain bond with the customers. We always greet each other in a friendly way and we are also on a first-name basis. This creates a really warm atmosphere”.

Adriano, driver of the TCL on-demand service in Lyon

Because they drive fully occupied minibuses instead of large empty buses, the drivers feel more valued in their profession.

On-demand transport does not threaten existing regular public transport. On the contrary, it’s a service that really helps people get around in their daily lives”.

Nicolas, mid-30s, driver of one of the Transdev Darche-Gros buses used for the on-demand service IDFM

How can public transport be transformed to become more attractive for passengers and riders?

Whilst there is an urgent need for viable alternatives to the private car – both in cities and rural areas – social and economic trends are making it difficult to create a public transport offer that genuinely meets people’s mobility needs.

Home working has reduced passenger levels, particularly during the traditional peak hours. The economic impact of this means that bus services have been cut and the ambitions, set out in the National Bus Strategy “Bus Back Better”, to create more accessible, reliable and well-timed bus services are being undermined.

On-demand transport can also provide relevant answers to these problems. Flexible management makes it possible to offer journeys that are tailored to the needs of passengers: 35% of users of our on-demand transport services previously travelled by car¹, and as many as 10% of passengers have completely parted with their car since using the on-demand service¹.

The high level of customer satisfaction and usage of on-demand services shows that public transport can be attractive. Guaranteed rides, comfortable transport, and short distances to the next stop, all these attributes are highly appreciated by the customers of the on-demand services powered by Padam Mobility. And this appreciation is also felt by the drivers.

Besides financial incentives, the profession must also be more enjoyable and less stressful to perform. Well-planned and fairly scheduled on-demand services can achieve this and make the job of a public transport driver more desirable.

 

Sources:
₁.Study conducted by Padam Mobility customers, including in Strasbourg on the Flex’hop service

 

This article might also interest you: On-Demand-Mobility: The Evolution of Local Public Transport 

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Regional DRT service of the German transport association VGI expands further

VGI Flexi

Since 20 January 2023, the “VGI-Flexi” on-demand service of the Greater Ingolstadt Transport Association (VGI) has also been available for the municipality of Denkendorf

To better match the public transport services of the Greater Ingolstadt Transport Association (VGI) to real demand and unify them, a new regional DRT service was launched in June 2022. The first on-demand service under the “VGI-Flexi” brand was introduced in Beilngries, a small town with about 10,000 inhabitants in the district of Eichstätt (Upper Bavaria). Padam Mobility and Hacon provide the technology behind this innovative regional on-demand platform that unites different areas and stakeholders. The different stakeholders each have different roles and access rights to enable a secure and effective workflow.

In Beilngries and the surrounding area, 70 stops are currently served by two minibuses. Thanks to intelligent algorithms, passengers with similar destinations are grouped together in the same vehicle. Bookings can be made up to 30 days in advance or one hour before departure, allowing the algorithms to calculate the best route and vehicle occupancy in advance. In this way, the available resources are used more sensibly, passengers reach their destination more quickly and empty buses are avoided – aspects that are often denounced in fixed-route services in rural areas.

Several providers united on the DRT platform

A few months after its launch in Beilngries, the VGI-Flexi was introduced in Scheyern. In this municipality of just under 5,000 inhabitants, users also benefit from the same conditions. A ride costs 1.50 euros for all passengers over the age of 14, in addition the usual subscription cards apply.

The third service area to be integrated into the platform is the Denkendorf area. Users of the VGI-Flexi app can easily select their desired service area without having to switch the app or struggle to find different tickets. This not only enhances the travel and booking experience but also increases brand awareness or visibility of the public transport offered in the VGI area.

For the Greater Ingolstadt Transport Association, the digital infrastructure provided by Padam Mobility and Hacon means the greatest possible flexibility and, at the same time, full control over the allocated funds and other resources. On the platform, roles are assigned to the various actors according to their area of responsibility, which in turn provide access to specific data.

Despite sharing a platform and price structure, the individual VGI-Flexi models are not dependent on each other but rather, like all on-demand services operated by Padam Mobility, are adapted to the respective requirements of the area. In concrete terms, this means, in the case of the VGI-Flexi, that there are, among other things, different service times. While users in Beilngries can book their trips during the week from 5:15 to 22:30, the service in Denkendorf will operate from Monday to Friday from 4:30 to 23:30. These differences are based in particular on the different service configuration options. In Denkendorf, the on-demand service acts as a feeder and fetcher between Denkendorf and its villages as well as the Ingolstadt Bahnhof Nord stop at certain times, which was taken into account when determining the service hours.

In Beilngries, the service is not bound to a specific itinerary (free-floating), so it transports users to their destination using the shortest route possible. Also, vehicle fleets of different sizes are used in each of the areas. Padam Mobility’s data analysis tool allows the operators in each area to accurately monitor how and when the fleet is being utilised. Initially, the VGI-Flexi in Denkendorf will start with one vehicle. If it turns out that the demand cannot be met in the long term, the municipality may decide to expand the service. This is done in consultation with the project managers from Hacon and Padam Mobility and can be decided independently of the performance of the other VGI-Flexi services.

Regional on-demand platform: the example of Île-de-France

For about four years, Padam Mobility and Île-de-France Mobiltés have been providing the probably largest European on-demand project for the Paris region. The platform has grown significantly within this time and today comprises around 45 service areas with a total of over 600 municipalities. With this uniform and accessible transport offer, the operators are playing an important role in improving the mobility of people in the suburbs and providing a strong alternative to the private car.

One of the most popular use cases for the services is getting to or from one of the about 120 local train stations. From there, people can take the fixed train or metro lines to the centre of Paris. Not only does this make commuting less stressful, but it also reduces car traffic congestion in the city. And the expansion of the regional platform is not yet complete – only recently, in December 2022, the contract between Île-de-France Mobilités and Padam Mobility was renewed.

VGI-Flexi soon available in more areas

Likewise, the regional platform of the VGI will continue to grow. This year alone, three more service areas will be integrated. A beneficial situation for all operators, as they can use the existing platform risk-free to trial on-demand services. Due to the infrastructure provided, including booking channels such as the user app or the call centre, many cost points are significantly lower. In addition, other expenses, such as the operation of the platform and the technical support, are shared between the individual transport companies.

With this approach, the project has the potential to be economically viable in the long term and can thus positively influence the mobility behaviour of the residents sustainably.

 

This article might interest you as well: With changing travel patterns, is it time to flex the business model?

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Île-de-France-Mobilités extends partnership with Padam Mobility for 4 years 

Le réseau TàD IDFM avec Padam Mobility

The Padam Mobility – Setec consortium has once again been appointed by Île-de-France Mobilités to provide the Île-de-France Mobilités on-demand service. The network is currently probably the largest on-demand transport system in the world.

Île-de-France Mobilités currently deploys Padam Mobility’s on-demand solutions in around 40 territories. By 2022, a total of around 390,000 passengers have been transported using the on-demand services. Now, Île-de-France Mobilité is expanding its collaboration with Padam Mobility and Setec. The collaboration includes consultancy on improving the on-demand network as well as support for operational management and quality assurance of the services. The agency R3LIEF will take care of the communication measures for the introduction of new and existing on-demand services in the area of operation.

The DRT service launched by Île-de-France Mobilités is unique in Europe and one of the most extensive on-demand services in the world. It provides answers to the challenges of areas with low population density and poor access to regular infrastructure. The example of Île-de-France Mobilités shows very well that on-demand transport brings multiple advantages of a social, environmental and economic nature.

Shared and intelligent mobility or the necessary transformation of our mobility behaviour

There are many people who move from the city centre to the suburbs. There, however, the public infrastructure is usually much worse developed. As a result, the car becomes the main means of transport, which is not always convenient in times of rising fuel prices. One way to relieve people and offer them flexible public transport is to introduce on-demand transport.

In Greater Paris, an area of 12,000 km2 and 12.2 million inhabitants, the issue of transport is a major challenge. The investments required to provide the area with public transport throughout are considerable. In addition, the people’s expectations are very diverse.

Starting in 2019, Île-de-France Mobilités has relied on Padam Mobility’s highly flexible Transport-on-Demand solution to offer customised solutions to residents of the least densely populated areas of the Paris region and to complement regular transport services. Today, the on-demand service of Île-de-France Mobilités is a central link in the region’s public transport system. This is also reflected in the figures:

  • +900,000 passengers transported by public transport in the Île-de-France region since the launch of TAD IDFM in 2019,
  • 36 areas served, i.e. almost 620 municipalities, including 120 stations,
  • A fleet of more than 120 vehicles,
  • Up to 56,000 passengers are transported per month.

TAD Île-de-France Mobilités: From experiment to service expansion

For about four years, Île-de-France Mobilités has been committed to shared, integrated, inclusive, smart and sustainable mobility through the provision of on-demand transport. Padam Mobility and the engineering firm Setec were commissioned with the planning and implementation.

In order to provide the best possible service, Padam Mobility, together with Île-de-France Mobilités, has developed a feature that is unique on the market: the multi-territory function. This feature makes it possible to manage different on-demand services on the same platform, even if they cover different territories. The multi-territory capability is essential for coordination on a regional level. In this way, different providers and use cases can be integrated step by step for the entire Greater Paris area.

In 2022, more than 10 new areas were served by the Île-de-France Mobilités on-demand bus service: Bassin Chellois, Dourdan, Étampes, Etrechy-Lardy, Essonne Sud Est, Créçois, Courtabœuf, Meaux & Ourcq, Val d’Yerres, Saint-Germain – Boucle de Seine, Plateau de Bièvre, Domont, etc. The service is considered one of the most flexible and largest on-demand transport networks in the world.

DRT Île-de-France Mobilités is a forerunner of what flexible mobility will be in the future. A mobility that is able to adapt to the needs of users and territories. Thanks to our technological expertise and know-how in the public transport sector, we can help Île-de-France Mobilités to position itself at the forefront of the market.”

Grégoire Bonnat, CEO and Co-Founder of Padam Mobility

About Padam Mobility, a Siemens Mobility Company

Since 2014, Padam Mobility has been developing digital solutions for dynamic, on-demand transport to transform peri-urban and rural areas and bring communities closer together. To this end, the company offers transport operators and municipalities a software suite with intelligent and flexible solutions that improve mobility where demand is low. The suite is based on powerful algorithms and artificial intelligence. Padam Mobility has been part of the Siemens Group since 2021 and complements its portfolio of digital transport and mobility solutions.

About setec its, a subsidiary of the setec Group

setec its specialises in the development of mobility and urban transport technology on a national and international level. The company designs and develops intelligent transport services, systems and infrastructures. It also advises its clients on their strategic challenges at a high technical level. setec its accompanies 360° mobility and transport authorities, local authorities, financiers, manufacturers and industrial companies in mobility and transport projects. Since its foundation, setec its has been pursuing new innovations: Digitalisation of services (MaaS), decarbonisation of mobility, connected and autonomous vehicles, digital engineering (simulations, BIM & 3D+, AI, …).

About R3LIEF

R3LIEF, an independent and innovative communication agency, accompanies various players in the field of mobility in France, Switzerland and Belgium. Marketing and communication consultancy, graphic design studio, web solutions, passenger information and much more – R3LIEF has developed a range of services specifically tailored to public transport companies and operators.

About Île-de-France Mobilités

Île-de-France Mobilités designs, organises and finances public transport, new forms of mobility and sustainable mobility for the Paris region. At the heart of the Île-de-France transport network, Île-de-France Mobilités unites all stakeholders (passengers, elected representatives, developers, transport companies, infrastructure managers, etc.). Led by Valérie Pécresse, President of the Île-de-France Region, Île-de-France Mobilités is made up of the Île-de-France Region and the eight departments of Île-de-France. Thus, the vision of the entire transport system of Île-de-France (train, RER, metro, tram, T Zen and bus) is united under one brand.

 

This article might also interest you: On-Demand-Mobility – The evolution of local public transport

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