Public Authorities

Merging a DRT and a paratransit service: why is it a good idea?

Image rues d'Albi

In Albi, south of France, a proactive policy in favour of People with Reduced Mobility is pursued. The municipality distributes its newspaper in Braille, and since 2021 the 84,000 inhabitants of the Grand Albigeois area have been sharing a Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) merged with a Paratransit service. Padam Mobility supported the urban area in the implementation of this merged on-demand mobility solution.

DRT? Paratransit? What are the differences?

Instead of following fixed itineraries and timetables, DRT is based on users’ bookings. Algorithms calculate rides in real time to optimise them and pool as many bookings as possible. The Paratransit is a DRT that focuses on the specific needs of the most fragile users. Often operated door-to-door, it is able to accommodate equipment such as wheelchairs and to include companions in the ride booking and management.

Why combine the two types of services?

The economic and ecological value of public transport lies in the sharing of rides. Economic, because the fuller the vehicles are, the less the rides cost the community. Ecological because sharing more rides reduces the number of kilometres travelled – particularly when empty – and emits less CO2.

While most local authorities opt for a separation of DRT and paratransit, the French region of Grand Albigeois has recognised the value of merging the services. Merging the two services means that more trips can be made. It also means that more options are offered: With a combined fleet, the local authority and users benefit from greater flexibility.
A Paratransit vehicle will no longer make an empty ride if a request from a non-Paratransit user is on its itinerary. Bringing the two offers together is also useful in fighting against the invisibility of disability. With more ride proposals and users who live alongside each other thanks to technological optimisation: the Grand Albigeois service is a success.

How do the two types of services interact?

To achieve this, the two types of service are configured simultaneously to be compatible. PRMs will be able to book their rides door-to-door, while other users will be able to book their rides stop-to-stop. This guarantees a tailor-made service for each user while maintaining the efficiency of the service. The algorithms are designed to optimise the different types of bookings, while taking into account the specific pick-up and drop-off times for PRM users who require them. To ensure a high quality of service, the local authority can choose to merge its services on a continuous basis, or over specific time slots.

In the Grand Albigeois area, the results speak for themselves: in less than 6 months, the Libé’A service has recorded 7,200 rides, 49% of which are PRM rides. The future looks even brighter for the local authority, with a 36% increase in ridership over the period of time. Many local authorities are taking a close interest in the Albi example.

Merging DRT and Paratransit: what does it mean technically?

The Padam Mobility product teams regularly look at how to merge usual public transport and Paratransit. The idea originated from many local authorities in multi-operated areas. Rather than operating two on-demand services that pool bookings separately, the aim is to obtain a merged mobility service – still adapted for Paratransit and meeting specific needs – but which is better optimised and more cost-effective, as it meets the needs of different populations simultaneously.” Samuel Bousquet, Product Manager and Javier Guimera, Transport Consultant at Padam Mobility.

The secret of the merging of DRT and Paratransit is to be found at several levels:

The algorithms

There are two types of algorithms:

  • Online algorithms: used when a user makes a booking on the website or his/her mobile application. They display the booking possibilities in less than a second, and ensure that the user request and the constraints of the service are respected. This type of algorithm optimises the user’s search results to display only the most relevant information.
  • Offline algorithms: these algorithms are launched outside of service hours; they aim to reduce ride times by pooling bookings for better service optimisation. For instance, this approach can change the order of rides or the distribution of vehicles.

In the context of a merged DRT and Paratransit services, these two types of algorithms will also take into account the specific needs of the users. Thus, the dwelling time – which can sometimes be longer to meet the specific needs of PRMs – or specific equipment are taken into account in a specific way in the calculation made by the algorithms.” Points out Matthieu Lormeau, Operational Research and Data Science Engineer at Padam Mobility.

The pick-up zones

In order to allow a perfect merging of DRT and Paratransit, the two services are configured to rely jointly on the same pick-up zones. The pick-up zones will coexist with stops (fixed or virtual) for DRT use, and polygons (service perimeters in which door-to-door rides are authorized for PRMs).

The allocation of services to the most suitable vehicles based on bookings

The notion of pooling and merging has a particularly important effect on the number of vehicles deployed and the economic rationality of the service. Indeed, the economic efficiency of a DRT is mainly based on the objectives of better dispatch of vehicles – or even their reduction – as well as on an objective of increasing the rate of user pooling.


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Public transport demand and the built environment

Beate Kubitz
Guest article by Beate Kubitz.

Beate Kubitz is a real insider of the transport sector. As an independent consultant and publicist on topics related to mobility and innovation, she is always on top of the latest facts when it comes to explaining the impact of new forms of mobility on society and politics.



Public transport demand is deeply linked to the availability of public transport. Where the network is poor and infrequent – often in rural and periurban areas – car ownership rises. In a vicious cycle, the increase in car use further reduces demand for public transport and makes services less viable.

What is less recognised is that this has an effect on both those areas with poor public transport, (the origins of most journeys) and their destinations – which are often in urban centres.

Dropping demand, falling funding

Public transport in the UK faces a difficult future. Against a background of steady decline as the UK gradually turned to private car travel, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a sharp drop-off in ridership. The Bus Recovery Grant, intended to shore up the market, looks likely to be withdrawn before passenger numbers have fully recovered.

The issues facing public transport, while exacerbated by the pandemic, have been in the making for some time. For buses, deregulation has caused, or at the very least coincided with, a steady decline in usage. The focus on profitability has also meant that operators have pared their routes to those that are commercially viable, on busy corridors. It has become increasingly difficult for local authorities to maintain ‘socially important’ services connecting communities lying off these corridors.

Since 1986, local authorities outside London have been unable to set service routes and frequencies, or subsidise fares. The final say on where and how they will be delivered rests mainly in the hands of commercial operators. Local authorities have also suffered cuts to funding, meaning they cannot commission bus services to augment commercially viable routes.

This removal of control from local authorities has resulted in transport networks with patchy coverage in many areas, missed connections between transport networks, and long waiting times between services. It is not difficult to find examples of local journeys to key destinations which take two or three times as long by public transport.

Among the other factors affecting the uptake of public transport, are information and cost. On the positive side, the Bus Open Data Service is slowly opening access to timetable and fare information so that digital journey planners work effectively.

However, bus fares have risen at a rate far above inflation. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics in 2021 found bus fares were six times more expensive than they were in 1987. Attempts by authorities outside London to introduce integrated ticketing, emulating London’s Oyster card, have met with difficulties.

A further issue is the failure to integrate transport into new housing developments. A damning 2022 report by the campaign group Transport for New Homes examined 20 new-build estates, and found that the majority were planned in a way that “locked in” private car use. This in turn had an impact on the quality of housing, as more space had to be given over to parking.

Policy and practice are not strong in this area. The misallocation of funding obtained from developers as part of the planning process – and the granting of planning permission on the assumption that better public transport would somehow follow development – have been cited as causes of this type of car-centric development. The National Policy and Planning Framework cautions against applying maximum parking limits to new developments, despite the success of low and zero car development.

Coordinating transport policy, planning policy and funding

In order to address the issues, there needs to be a step change in funding and policy.

First, public transport needs to be brought closer to more homes and destinations. In cities that have data on access to public transport, such as London and Manchester, higher accessibility correlates strongly with lower car ownership.

An important element to explore is how demand responsive transport (DRT) can be used to improve accessibility or network coverage. Whilst ‘dial-a-ride’ DRT schemes have been around for a while, more sophisticated platform-based DRT enables on-demand services to be accessible as part of the public transport network.

Active travel improvements can also play a role, by creating safer, more direct walking and cycling routes, with secure bike parking and e-bike charging at transport interchanges.

Local authorities need powers and funding to deliver improvements to public transport. Devolved powers in relation to transport should be increased. The obstacles to introducing bus franchising and enhanced partnerships should be removed, as there is no other way to ensure reasonable levels of service or integration with other transport networks. Areas that have already become “transport deserts” should be provided with DRT services that replicate the convenience of a good fixed route bus service.

The present funding landscape for public transport and active travel is full of potential stumbling blocks. For instance, methods of assessing benefit to cost ratios for public transport schemes are urgently in need of reform. Rapid transit networks are required to show unreasonably high BCRs, often based on pessimistic assumptions of future passenger numbers. The Borders Railway in Scotland was built in spite of estimates of just 30,000 then 650,000 passengers per year. The reality, in its first year of operation, was over a million.

Government tools such as WebTAG do not correctly value active travel, prioritising free movement of private vehicle traffic over convenient local journeys on bike and by foot. AMAT, the assessment tool for active travel schemes, is designed to favour schemes that can already show a high proportion of active travel users, which can increase transport inequality. As nearly all public transport journeys contain an element of active travel, defects with these assessment tools penalise public transport too.

Finally, planning regulations should be reassessed in light of the urgent need to decarbonise transport. This means that connectivity of new developments to existing transport networks should be ensured from the outset (rather than being left to be put in at a future date). More S.106 and CIL funding should be used for improvement and development of local transport services. Resources should also be allocated to “retro-fit” poorly connected existing developments, using DRT to ensure people can access frequent fixed route public transport easily.

We need a public transport network that reaches close to people’s homes and their ultimate destinations. This will require changes to transport policy and funding, and the exploitation of new innovations and proven methods to reduce car ownership. With less need for private vehicles, public transport will function better, and we will be able to use land for housing people rather than cars.


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This article might interest you as well: Using Data Science to Increase the Success of Your DRT Scheme

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Padam Mobility Masterclass series – #2 Using data science to increase the success of your DRT scheme

Padam Mobility and Prospective Labs, in collaboration with Landor Links, present the second edition of the Quality Bus Masterclass Series. 

Kate Gifford, Head of Future Mobility at West Yorkshire Combined Authority, led the hour-long discussion of Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) and Data which featured Pete Ferguson, CEO and Co-Founder of Prospective Labs, and David Carnero, Head of International Business Development and Partnerships at Padam Mobility.

The webinar took questions from participants and discussed the role of data in setting up and shaping DRT services.

What data sets will I need for a feasibility study (and if this involves bus data,
how do I reassure the operator that supplying the data won’t have an adverse impact
on their existing business)?”

The Prospective Labs approach to data is about understanding the potential role of DRT within the transport network – and where it might have real competitive advantages over the private vehicle. 

Pete Ferguson:

We utilise a lot of the ticketing and timetabling data from the core public transport network and we combine that with essentially the core transport modelling activity that you may be aware of within your own local authorities that is looking at the propensity to travel under different conditions. How sensitive are local populations to changes in travel time, changes in costs and what will their behaviour be when you make that change.”

Another important source of data from which Prospective Labs draws information is the National Travel Survey, which provides about 100,000 responses annually, relating to different preferences depending on the mode of transport or reason for travel.

All this data is cross-referenced with the ‘supply side’, i.e. the structural, multi-modal public transport network across the UK.

There’s a core of national data sets that then can be combined with a rich representation of the actual underlying supply network”

This broad pool of data allows Prospective Labs to understand what would happen if any changes were made to public transport services in a particular region.

Because DRT can be configured in different ways, the impacts of different configurations can be checked. In some areas, it may make sense to maintain a fixed route structure that is then served ‘on-demand’, in other regions it may be more effective to operate in a free-floating model, and still others may benefit from the DRT service simply acting as a feeder or drop-off for central transport hubs.

David Carnero:

[It is about] understanding where the structural network is, what frequency it is running, what is the network coverage, etc. [From our side] we can implement the DRT in a way that it doesn’t compete with the structural transport network. […] We have a not-compete functionality in our platform, […] and so if somebody asks for a journey between point a and point b and that journey can be done by a fixed line bus then we will not accept the DRT journey and actually refer them to the specific timetable, to that bus line for example.” 

A good study will be able to reassure the existing operators that the DRT services will enhance the network rather than detract from it.

Data collection can be expensive and DRT schemes present financial challenges. How can the additional spend on data collection be justified?”

Collecting and evaluating relevant data, especially before an on-demand service is to be put into operation, contributes decisively to the success or failure of the new transport offer.

David Carnero:

The role of data from our perspective is really to de-risk a project, it can contribute to reducing costs, it can allow, for example, the right supply to be put in place at the right time. […] It takes away a lot of the surprises that can happen. […] We look at it as well as the base on which you build your  hypothesis at the beginning if there isn’t a previous DRT service and then you have something really concrete that you can measure against.”

Pete Ferguson adds that it’s more about the cost of not collecting and analysing data:

A few weeks of paying for drivers and vehicles for a poorly set up service is ultimately much more costly than upfront planning and data analysis. A possible later readjustment, in the case of a poorly running service, would therefore be more fatal than the investment in a thorough implementation process could possibly be.”

It’s crucial to use data expertise in decision-making, assessing the characteristics of a region and the behaviour of (future) service users and provide advice on the likelihood of success for each potential type of service.

We can look at concepts like the ‘consumer surplus’ which is useful for gauging what additional services or destinations that people can access with this additional connectivity. It’s good for both looking in the increase of the value to passengers, but also can be used to ensure minimal impacts if we’re trying to cut costs. Essentially you consider the least reduction in consumer surplus for each cost-cutting scenario”.

Padam Mobility partners with Prospective Labs because: “We have recognised that the need for data analysis of mobility behaviour in certain regions is very high for public authorities, but for various reasons often cannot be carried out independently”, says David Carnero.

In the event that DRT metrics show a decline in performance, what mechanisms can be used to identify problems early and trigger mitigating action?

Initially, Prospective Labs works to develop reliable scenarios that are very close to real-world scenarios, so that there’s a model to predict how well the DRT will be used which can be validated against the real world. So the first thing is to establish how well this process is working and use the model to predict how adjustments might be implemented.

In addition, long-term analysis of data from the platform is important, explains David Carnero:

We analyse the supply, we analyse how people are searching within our digital products and, for example, if there are lots of searches that aren’t what we call it ‘converted’ we then look to understand what’s happing. Things like where are the origins, where are the destinations? Do we need to extend the zone?” 

Using this approach, the service can be adjusted to provide the best and most cost-effective solution for the area, passengers and the operator.

If you’d like to hear more questions about DRT and data answered, the masterclass on DRT and data is available in full length on YouTube.

What hurdles do decision-makers and mobility managers see in the introduction of an on-demand service?

Word Cloud

According to the audience, concerns about unmanageable costs or unmanageable risk seem to be particular obstacles to setting up DRT in certain regions. This is a dilemma because if DRT services are rejected outright, best practices cannot be developed, which can slow down the overall evolution of new transport services.

What comes next?

Assuming the planning of a DRT service has been successful and the service has been running for some time, how should data continue to be used to improve the service or even identify and fix problems?

The next Masterclass will be about this very topic: Scaling DRT – Using a flexible demand platform and a flexible vehicle supply model to grow patronage efficiently. 

This third and final masterclass by Padam Mobility will explore the levers and measures that are available to efficiently operate on-demand bus schemes.

Dan Mould, Managing Director Of Coachscanner will be outlining his unique supply-side platform (We-DRT) for operating DRT using a mixture of permanent and flexible bus suppliers. This will include learnings from operating TfWM West Midlands On-Demand Service.

Jack Holland, Head of Business Development in the UK for Padam Mobility will be sharing his experience of managing and growing DDRT services over the past 4 years. He will go through how to make full use of DRT software including the levers for marketing and price elasticity.

This next Masterclass will take place on 10 March at 10:30 GMT. You can register for this event by clicking on this link. As usual, you are also welcome to send us your questions!


About the Quality Bus Masterclasses in association with Landor Links

The Masterclass series was created primarily to help decision-makers understand how DRT can be incorporated into an Enhanced Partnership Programme between transport operators and public transport authorities in the most risk-free way possible.

You can also watch the video of our first Masterclass at this link. Here David Carnero together with Matt Smallwood and Antonio Carmona talked about the topic “Integrated Ticketing”.



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How does Demand Responsive Transport help to reduce one’s mental load?

Mental load

Connecting people and making it easier for everyone to commute are the objectives of Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) proposed by Padam Mobility. To this extent, this mobility solution can alleviate the daily tasks that make up the mental workload. According to Nicole Brais, a researcher at the University of Laval, Quebec, the mental load corresponds to “management, organisation and planning work that is at once intangible, unavoidable and constant in order to manage domestic tasks. Thus, a real impact on daily life lies in the constancy of this burden.

The mental load falls mainly on women 

Women spend an average of almost 4 hours a day managing domestic tasks, and handle 71% of parental tasks in the household. These tasks can be directly linked to transportation: doing groceries, dropping off and picking up children at/from school, and all the small tasks of daily life.

DRT represents a simple and effective solution to reduce the weight of these daily tasks. On the occasion of an experimentation of the La Saire TAD service in the Cotentin, a parent told us:

I think I can speak for all the mothers in the room who no longer need to drop off  their children at school, you have changed our lives in La Saire!”

People with Reduced Mobility also face an increased mental load in their daily lives

In a world that sometimes seems to be designed by and for able-bodied people, finding suitable modes of transport can be particularly difficult for people with reduced mobility.

It is therefore important to take into account the specific needs of PRMs with, for instance, a door-to-door transport service that takes into account the time it requires to settle into adapted vehicles and the presence of specific equipment, if necessary. In addition, the accessibility of the transport offer involves the right to movement, and therefore to spontaneous movement. Getting to the city without having to plan one’s journey weeks in advance is undeniably a factor in alleviating the mental load for the PRM public.

The Paratransit solutions developed by Padam Mobility can be booked in real time or in advance, in order to satisfy the desire and need for spontaneity in everyday life. They are configured to take care of each user according to the specificities of their mobility and allow for flexible travel from address to address.

Solutions that respond to the problems of the 11 million caregivers in France, and in the world. 

Caregivers provide day-to-day support to a dependent relative. These situations often require constant travelling between health centres, the homes of the carers and the homes of their dependent relatives, for instance (as presented in this article). This context can lead to reliance on private means of travel, particularly in peri-urban and rural areas where fixed lignes are more limited.

Padam Mobility’s solutions allow a caregiver to make a booking and the caregiver can even receive specific notifications regarding the pick-up of their relative.  These configurations facilitate the daily organisation of caregivers by involving them intuitively in the movement of their dependent relatives.

In rural and peri-urban areas, a mental charge is hidden in the day-to-day travel needs of all

Inequality of access to city centres, particularly in rural and peri-urban areas, creates mental burdens for all types of population: young people without a car, parents who have to drop off their relatives and children, and elderly people who fear driving alone private vehicles. All these constraints create anxiety and an insidious mental workload. A mental pressure that DRT sometimes helps to reduce, as a high school student using the Résa’Tao DRT service in Orléans explained to us:

At least (my parents) are not worried because they know that if I have a problem, I always have Résa’Tao”. 

What about the driver’s mental load?

Commuting, including home-to-work mobility, is a mobility in which the mental load is hardly ever mentioned. However, mental workload and driving are directly linked, as the latter impacts on drivers’ concentration and increases risky driving behaviour. Driving and its constraints add to the already existing mental load. Academic studies have been conducted to scientifically measure the mental load of driving and how to limit it.

Artificial intelligence, which enables the optimisation of rides, plays a crucial role in easing the mental burden on professional drivers of DRT vehicles. Indeed, through an ergonomic interface, drivers are guided step by step and no longer have to worry about the route to follow or the passengers to pick up or drop off. For passengers, formerly car drivers, DRT also makes their daily lives easier by freeing them from the hassles frequently encountered on the road: congestion, accidents, parking, refuelling, etc. 


About Padam Mobility 

Check out this article: Loi LOM : ce qui change pour les personnes à mobilité réduite 

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Padam Mobility Masterclass series – #1 A smart ticket to ride: Ask the experts!

Landor Links

Ticketer and Padam Mobility, together with Landor Links, have kicked off the three-part masterclass series to share current thinking about the potential for Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) in Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) across the UK. 

The three-part masterclass series was launched mid-January by Padam Mobility in partnership with Landor Links. The aim of each of the engaging one-hour discussions is to draw out expertise on the integration of DRT into a  user-friendly, effective public transport service. 

In the first Masterclass, Antonio Carmona, General Manager International and Head of UK Sales at Ticketer, and David Carnero, Head of International Business Development and Partnerships at Padam Mobility, together with chair Matt Smallwood, Head of Digital Strategy, Transport for the North, talked about why – and how –  transport operators and public transport authorities should tackle the core problem of integrated ticketing. Below is a small excerpt of the questions and topics discussed during the webinar. The full video can be found on YouTube.  

Integrated Ticketing is key, is one of the main areas that you need to work on to remove those barriers to access the system.” Antonio Carmona

From the start, Antonio Carmona stressed the importance of a seamless payment and ticketing system to encourage people to switch to public transport. Combine with other measures – such as proximity of services, on-demand rides and pricing – it is essential for creating public transport that is more attractive and more used than private cars.

But how can public transport authorities and operators be convinced that an on-demand service can enrich the public mobility offer in a given region? 

It’s important to see DRT as a service improvement, according to David Carnero, rather than viewing it primarily as a profit-making business model. The overriding goal of on-demand transport is perfect integration into the existing infrastructure rather than competing with it – even if there are DRT services that are significantly more lucrative than maintaining fixed bus routes. DRT then has the potential to serve, for example, the first and last mile between the homes and larger transport hubs. People are thus offered a real alternative to their own car, without the DRT service competing with, but rather complementing, the existing public transport network. 

It’s about not competing with structural – fixed-line – transport, it’s about ‘adding to’ or giving more flexibility to the structural transport. To do this it has to have simple fares and integrated ticketing.” David Carnero 

Data sharing is an obstacle to an integrated ticketing system 

It’s clear that seamless travel – without tedious questions like “Which ticket do I need for which mode of transport?” or “Where can I buy my next ticket?” – is desirable. But why is it that the public transport offer in the UK resembles more of a patchwork quilt, and trips from A to B in many cases require more than just a single ticket? 

Antonio believes that there needs to be more confidence among operators to participate in a common system: 

In every beginning of integration processes you will see challenges about sharing data but in the end, once you have proven to the different operators that there is a benefit to them in participating in the system and sharing some data that is relevant, then those frictions will probably disappear. It is not a technical problem, lots of data is available. [The challenges are] more related to the agreements that are in place.”  Antonio Carmona 

One ticket – many payment options?

Transport-on-demand services are currently exceptional in most regions of the UK. People may have become accustomed to a neighbourhood service that they order over the phone. However, the technical booking options via app or website tend to deter older users in particular. Similarly, when it comes to the question of payment options. There are people who refuse to pay via an app or prepay card and prefer to pay in cash directly in the vehicle. Are these users going to be excluded from the ‘new’ transport services sooner or later? 

The simple answer is ‘no’. DRT services, as offered by Padam Mobility, are public services and do not exclude any user group. Providers need to ensure that people can use the service in the easiest way for them, for example, by ensuring that cash payment remains possible on board in addition to the booking option by telephone or online. Only then can it be guaranteed that the services remain inclusive.

How can the step towards more ‘on-demand’ succeed? 

One aspect, in particular, becomes clear during the discussion: the answers are there, DRT as a real enrichment of a region’s mobility offer does not have to remain a pipe dream, but can be successfully established with a well-thought-out approach.   

Nevertheless, at the moment, just before the launch of the Enhanced Partnerships within the Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIP), many public transport authorities and operators are faced with the major challenge of taking the first step. A reasonable, feasible plan has to be worked out to have a chance of securing some of the public funds. 

To have the best chance of success, careful data analysis and simulations before the actual service goes live is key to tailoring a DRT service for a specific area. There is not a standard service model for every region. In this context, David emphasises that Padam Mobility’s focus is on areas away from the big cities which need careful analysis.

Careful testing and data analysis will determine the best approach to serve a rural or suburban area. Where areas are unlikely to be profitable it’s important to provide a carefully designed service that supports the network and other fixed-line services. 

The next webinar will look at the topic of DRT and Data with Landor Links on 10 February 2022 at 10:30 am (UTC). You will find the link to the registration form further down in this article. 

A question of trust 

Can people who have become accustomed to a timetable just “change” like that? Certainly, the question of how to bring users along on the path to more flexible, demand-responsive transport should not be underestimated. Humans are creatures of habit. If the service does not work as intended or as they are used to, there is a risk that people will turn away and reject it. Gaining the trust of end-users may require introducing services in parallel, and will rely on full transparency, for example by guaranteeing real-time tracking of the journey or by providing users with push notifications on their mobile phones in case of delays and other problems. 

I think [the bottom line is] that the technology and the systems around that are a real key enabler for that integration piece, for that customer journey, and for I think [the issue of communication with users].” Matt Smallwood 

It certainly takes time to make new mobility services attractive to a broad population. Reliable support and transparent communication with operators and end-users will add to the eventual success of DRT.

Watch the entire masterclass with Matt Smallwood, Antonio Carmona and David Carnero on YouTube

We would also be very happy to welcome you on 10 February at 10:30 am (UTC). Then we’ll be covering in detail how the right data analysis contributes to a successful implementation of an on-demand service. Click here to register. You are also welcome to send us your questions in advance (use the dedicated text field in the registration form).


Find out more about Padam Mobility 

This article might interest you as well: Ticketer and Padam Mobility announce partnership to further develop the Demand-Responsive Transport landscape in the UK 

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The Orléans metropolis expands its on-demand network Résa’Tao to four additional zones


Padam Mobility, Orléans Métropole and Keolis Métropole Orléans are expanding their on-demand service Résa’Tao. With four newly designed zones and a fleet of 39 vehicles, TAO Orléans Métropole is thus positioning itself as one of the most innovative and advanced networks in France in the field of on-demand transport.

Padam Mobility and Orléans Métropole have already been partners since 2018, enabling nearly 10,000 on-demand trips per month with the Résa’Tao service operated by Keolis Métropole Orléans. The French metropolis and the transport service provider rely on Padam Mobility’s algorithms to optimise the operation and cost of their on-demand service.

As passenger numbers and customer satisfaction have been consistently strong over the past three years of operation, Orléans Métropole decided to expand the service to four new, redesigned zones and to increase the fleet from about 20 to nearly 40 vehicles, some of which are powered by electricity.

Aiming for 250,000 on-demand trips in 2022

Launched in 2018, Orléans Métropole’s on-demand service, Resa’Tao, was gradually extended to other areas of the city, covering nine areas in 2021 with a fleet of more than 19 vehicles. Technical adjustments made by Padam Mobility, such as the optimisation of routes, the extension of service times, and the flexibilisation of last-minute reservations, enabled the service’s usage rate to gradually increase threefold between 2018 and 2021.

Due to these positive developments, both in terms of passenger numbers (more than 250,000 bookings since its launch) and user satisfaction (average rating of 4.7/5), Orléans Métropole has decided to extend the service on 3 January 2022 to four additional, newly designed zones, where around 40 vehicles will operate seven days a week. With this expansion, most residents of the sparsely populated urban areas of Orléans will be able to depart from a stop just a few metres from their home without having to pay a surcharge. Orléans Métropole thus hopes to increase ridership and reach 250,000 trips in 2022, compared to more than 100,000 in 2021.

A service that aims to connect 100% of users to the existing transport offer

Orléans Métropole’s on-demand service Résa’Tao now covers four new large-scale zones (previously there were nine smaller ones). The North, South, East and West zones were designed in such a way as to meet the mobility needs of the communities outside the city centre. To enable as many travel requests as possible, the availability of the service has been increased and connections to the main public transport lines in Orléans (trams and buses) have been simplified.

Furthermore, the service actively promotes reintegration into the labour market. Keolis Métropole Orléans contracts a labour market reintegration company to operate the on-demand driving service.

Users of the RésaTao service can book their ride for free by phone, online or via a dedicated app several weeks in advance or up to five minutes before their departure. A minibus picks them up at a predefined bus stop and takes them to their destination – seven days a week and from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

We feel that we are better investing taxpayers’ money, especially since the strategy of Orléans Métropole is not to gain economic advantages but to provide a better service. On-demand transport, as an innovative solution, it not only complements the traditional service, but goes one step further by connecting 100% of the metropolis’ inhabitants to the public network…” Romain Roy, Vice-President of Orléans Métropole, responsible for transport and traffic

Development of the Orléans metropolitan region’s DRT service Resa’Tao between 2018 and 2022


Padam Mobility’s algorithms supporting shared and optimised mobility

Padam Mobility offers transport-on-demand solutions based on algorithms to optimise routes and vehicle utilisation. The mobility offer is smarter, more flexible and more dynamic. It is no longer based on fixed routes and timetables, but on-demand and is constantly optimised based on (real-time) bookings. In the course of a trip, several users are grouped together in one vehicle, with the driver adapting his route in line with the bookings. The schedule chosen by the users is always guaranteed.


About Padam Mobility, a subsidiary of Siemens Mobility

Since 2014, Padam Mobility has been developing digital solutions for dynamic demand-responsive public transport (on-demand systems and paratransit) to transform peri-urban and rural areas and bring communities closer together. For this purpose, the company offers a software suite of smart and flexible solutions that improve the effectiveness of mobility interventions for all target groups in low-demand areas and bring users, operators and communities on the move! The software suite is based on powerful algorithms and artificial intelligence.

In 2021, Padam Mobility became part of the Siemens Group and supplements its portfolio of digital transport and mobility solutions.


This article might interest you as well: Interview with Roman Roy, Vice-President of Orléans Métropole

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Interview with Romain Roy, Vice-President of the Orléans Métropole

Romain Roy

On the occasion of the expansion of the Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) service Résa’Tao in Orléans, Padam Mobility spoke to Romain Roy, Vice-President of Orléans Métropole and in charge of transport and traffic.

The main function of the on-demand service is to bring residents to the existing public transport services”.

PADAM MOBILITY (PM): How would you describe the DRT service in Orléans Métropole?

Our DRT is a modern and innovative service that Orléans developed as of 2018 and expanded in 2019 within a pilot area. It is a service linked to a software suite that has made it possible to connect 100% of the metropolitan population to structured public transport. Users can book the service a month in advance or 5 minutes before departure via a mobile app, website or toll-free phone number. A ticket is no more expensive than a traditional bus ticket, although the user can travel directly from point to point in the defined area of Orléans Métropole.

PM: How does the DRT service complement the transport offer nowadays?

RR: The DRT not only complements it but gives every resident access to a public transport service. I don’t know of any network in France or the world that has managed to cover 100% of an area with traditional transport services. There are still isolated people who live far from a bus stop. The on-demand service can, therefore, also pick up people living far away from the Orléans city centre. However, this is not the only benefit of the DRT! It also allows people to move from point to point within the suburbs as more and more new lines are being created.

PM: What kind of users or purposes are served by Demand-Responsive Transport?

RR: Truly all of them! We don’t exclude anyone. We pick up schoolchildren in the morning, pensioners in the afternoon, people with reduced mobility, professionals, people who use the service sporadically, people without a car, etc. We connect all users with a service that is demand-oriented and close to the customer.

PM: What are the concrete advantages of this DRT service?

RR: The obvious benefit is that users are connected and that the service does not exclude any user. Mobility means demand-responsive transport, it means walking, cycling, park-and-ride, tram, bus, but first and foremost you need access to these transport options. And the primary service that DRT provides is to get residents to the structuring public transport network. Next, there is the temporal scope of the service: from 6 am to 9 pm, 7 days a week. Last but not least, it is a customer-oriented service. You no longer have to wait 30 minutes for your bus; if you book in advance, you can literally get your bus right in front of your door. For the time being, however, the service is only available from point to point, not yet from address to address. It is a local transport service at an ultra-competitive cost, shared but no more expensive than traditional public transport. 

We feel that we are better investing taxpayers’ money, especially since  the strategy of Orléans Métropole is not to gain economic advantages but to provide a better service”.

PM: How has technology helped you realise this vision?

RR: We started a trial area in 2018-2019 with 4-5 vehicles on a smaller operational area and a more limited time frame. This test showed us that users were satisfied and that demand was increasing. In 2019, based on the good test results, we decided, together with Keolis and Padam Mobility, to continue the experiment and expanded the test area to 9 test areas with 12-14 vehicles each with different time frames and different focus groups. Based on these two test trials and our conviction that Transport-on-Demand will be the mobility of tomorrow, we decided to expand the service to 4 large, newly designed zones from 3 January [2022], served by a total of 40 vehicles 7 days a week.

PM: Can you say something about economic rationality and what the technology can do for the community in terms of cost?

RR: Based on the 2019-2020 figures provided to us by our contractor [Keolis Métropole Orléans], the economic balance that the metropolis is aiming for is close to zero. Of the 11.6 million km purchased from our contractor, we have transferred almost 600,000 km to on-demand transport. 1 km with a traditional large bus, which also often runs without passengers, costs between 3 and 4 euros. 1 km with a smaller shuttle bus, which is rarely empty as it comes on demand and can be shared, is cheaper. The equation is balanced because we enable a customer-oriented and flexible service for the user. We feel that we are better investing taxpayers’ money, especially since the strategy of Orléans Métropole is not to gain economic advantages but to provide a better service.

PM: How did Padam Mobility accompany you to enable such an efficient service?

RR: Co-creation, exchange, many discussions, dialogues and tackling challenges, because there is a common interest between the metropolis, the contractor [Keolis Métropole Orléans] and Padam Mobility, which we achieve through professionalism, growth and innovation. We are proud to have been among the first to put our trust in you. We are also happy to see that our achievements and the result have been transferred to different areas. We are convinced that it was right to trust you and to reinforce the offer. Other factors were also taken into account: the mobility needs of the territory, the satisfaction and response of users, proximity, the safety aspect, etc.

PM: What are the environmental impacts of DRT? 

RR: Environmental awareness must be strengthened. We have taken lots of big buses out of service. Based on data and statistics, we have also cancelled lines that had hardly any more passengers. We have organised bus services in the metropolis according to school and holiday times as well as according to different times of the day. A large electric bus that doesn’t find its audience and runs empty will always be less environmentally friendly than several small shuttle buses that use hybrid or electric power and are operating at good capacity. Using the service is not only an economic but certainly an ecological gesture.

For us, the on-demand service is a tool to attract new users, in addition to connecting 100% of the users in the metropolis.”

PM: What are the goals of the Transport on Demand service in Orléans?

RR: We are in a growth phase where we are trying something new, but also measuring and controlling because we have a duty to provide quality services. That means we have to have a shuttle that is on time, that transports you safely and that connects you with other mobility services. If users give up their private cars, the bet is already won, both environmentally and socially. The goal is to shift more traditional bus kilometres to on-demand transport. Instead of having four big zones that are almost identical, we want to merge them and then, why not, think about on-demand night transport, which will certainly find its audience.

PM: To which strategy regarding the modal shift does Transport-on-Demand fit?

RR: The first strategy is to offer a service that we believe is truly relevant to our times. The fact that it is a responsive and intuitive local transport service allows passengers to easily understand it right from the start. If they want to get on an on-demand service and go from A to B, they can be sure that their transport is reliable. For us, the on-demand service is a tool to attract new users, in addition to connecting 100% of the users in the metropolis. It is really the extended arm of conventional public transport.

PM: Would you say that on-demand mobility brings new users to public transport?

RR: For sure, yes. Because on-demand transport appeals to everyone: the young generation, who are hyper-connected, and the other part of the population, who are less connected or live more isolated. Orléans Métropole has managed to maintain a toll-free number that allows people to stay directly connected during operating hours so they can book their transport. Thus, we also reassure people who are less tech-savvy. The fact that we provide multiple booking channels to connect people from their homes to a transport service will inevitably attract new audiences. We see this in the satisfaction rates. From pensioners who have a doctor’s appointment to young people who want a lift to school: We offer an innovative service that engages all segments of the population.


Learn more about Padam Mobility

This article might interest you as well: The Orléans metropolis expands its on-demand network Résa’Tao to four additional zones

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How to ensure the success of your Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) service through targeted data analysis?


 – Padam Mobility insights on  service data analysis at the Smart Transport Conference 2021

The basic premise of Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT): smart vehicle routes that group as many passengers as possible, matching trips to capacity is seen as a promising solution to establish emission-free transport. It’s both efficient and reduces the need for individual cars. 

However, DRT services are by no means the same. The deployment of an on-demand service does not follow a template that can be applied equally to all regions and areas. The key to successfully establishing a DRT in a given area is based on the analysis and correct interpretation of data collected before the service is introduced and whilst it is operational. Good data will show how the service is being used, and whether there is room for improvement. For example, data can show whether the fleet size is optimal for the service and how it works with the existing transport network (for example, whether the on-demand service ensures connections with train services,  or competes with high-frequency buses at peak times).

How does targeted data analysis help in establishing a DRT service? – Presentation by David Carnero at the Smart Transport Conference 2021 in London 

The Smart Transport Conference took place in London at the end of November. Bringing together, mobility experts, innovative transport companies and top politicians, including Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Trudy Harrison, the conference addressed the most pressing mobility issues of our time: how do we achieve the climate targets we have set ourselves, how can innovative transport concepts be promoted, or how should the infrastructure change in order to encourage the use of lower-emission means of transport?

The entire UK team of Padam Mobility was represented at the event in London. David Carnero, Head of International Business Development, spoke in the breakout session “Technology and Innovation” about the important role of data in the development of on-demand services. 

David Carnero, Head of International Business Development at Padam Mobility, speaking at the Smart Transport Conference in London on 30 November 2021.

Using specific examples, each showing anonymised real data scenarios from customers, David highlighted the importance of the skilled eye of Padam Mobility’s mobility experts in launching and sustaining DRT services. 

Choosing the right fleet size

The choice of the fleet size is crucial to the success or failure of an on-demand service. If the fleet is too large, it is costly to maintain, vehicles are not optimally utilised, and additional staff are required. However, if there are not enough vehicles to meet the demand, other problems tend to arise that damage the overall project. Users trying to book a journey who are repeatedly unable to do so because all vehicles are already fully booked may turn away from the service. This problem is illustrated by David in his presentation (see Figure 1). The chart shows the daily average refusal rate (blue bars) and the total refusal rate (orange line) are very high at almost all times of the day. In this situation more vehicles are needed to meet demand, and this will be suggested to the operator.

fleet size
Figure 1

Service optimisation – the “right” configuration can work wonders 

A further example shared by David illustrated how skilled interpretation of data can have an impact on services. Before the realignment of the DRT offer shown in Figure 2, rather low user numbers were recorded. This could be for many reasons, however, it would be wrong to jump to the conclusion that people in the region are not open to on-demand mobility. 

The service was adjusted, and from around August 2020, the data shows passenger numbers increasing rapidly. This suggests that the service change made about two months earlier succeeded and meets the users’ actual needs much better. In this case, several stops were added and the service area was enlarged.

Figure 2

Service optimisation – extensive possibilities of data analysis and evaluation   

David used further examples to make clear how extensive the analyses are that Padam Mobility conducts for their customers, and that careful data evaluation can be decisive for success. 

For example, he illustrated the possible reasons why trip searches might not lead to bookings. Figure 3 shows the point at which (around November 2020), the conversion rate of searches to bookings increases significantly compared to the previous period. User analysis indicated that people may have been unable to find suitable stops in their proximity or were not satisfied with the given service area. In this case, a service enhancement resulting from the analysis has helped to accommodate more user queries and thus increase the ratio of search queries to actual bookings. 

Figure 3

Expansion of the service area, a larger fleet size or more stops are not the only possible adjustments. Service configurations which are matched to the individual circumstances and needs of each region are essential. Padam Mobility tests and measures the most appropriate models. For some areas, a free-floating model, which does not envisage a fixed routing, may make sense, for example, in order to save vehicle kilometres and offer passengers a flexible and individualised driving experience. In other regions, however, a feeder configuration may be more appropriate, for example, if a specific transport hub, such as a train station, is the main point of contact for most on-demand users. In very large areas, it may be beneficial to define zones in which a specific on-demand service operates. This helps the operators to keep a clear overview of the performance and the resources needed for each service. 

Figure 4

What steps can public transport authorities and transport companies derive from the findings? 

If cities, municipalities, companies, etc. have decided to tackle the project “on-demand mobility” and offer their citizens or employees a convenient, flexible transport service, the diverse implementation possibilities of DRT services can seem overwhelming at first. 

Where to start? Which configuration is right for my area? – Fortunately, Padam Mobility’s team of experts can help. 

We know what data is needed to make an initial assessment of the future service model of on-demand transport. We also offer simulations and pilots designed to closely monitor the service over a period of time and collect data that will make the service design as effective as possible. Of course, we also accompany our clients in the long term, closely assisting drivers and the management team to make decisions at short notice whether meeting acute need or implementing incentive schemes rapidly.  For example, at the beginning of 2021, we set up a service for the on-demand service TAD IDFM in the Paris area, which took vulnerable people to the nearest vaccination centre. A recent example is the “Christmas shopping offer” provided by the HertsLynx DRT. 

A reliable partner who has the capabilities to collect and analyse the data generated by an on-demand service in a professional and far-sighted manner is crucial for the successful implementation of a DRT service. The right choice can ensure that on-demand mobility not only becomes an important part of the modal split but is also financially viable.


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

Learn more about Padam Mobility 

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Padam Mobility launches new Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) service “Holibri” in Höxter, Germany


On this St. Nicholas Day, Padam Mobility launches its new on-demand service “Holibri” in Höxter, Germany. Padam Mobility and Hacon provide the software for the innovative on-demand project, which will completely replace four fixed bus routes in Höxter, a medium-sized city with about 30,000 inhabitants. “Holibri” is a service of fahr mit, the umbrella brand of five rail and ten bus companies in the “Hochstift” area (a region in the east of North Rhine-Westphalia) and is operated by the Paderborn/Höxter local transport association (nph). 

Holibri – The name says it all 

The “Holibri” service is named after the speedy hummingbird (in German: “Kolibri”).  In this sense, the DRT service is designed to get its passengers to their desired destination quickly and quietly. The new vehicles are low-noise above all because they are powered 100 % by green electricity – an important step for the city of Höxter to establish itself as a pioneer in the transformation of local public transport in the Hochstift region. 

A new concept to strengthen public transport 

The new on-demand service will completely replace the existing fixed bus routes HX1, HX2, HX3 and HX5, only school bus services will continue to run as usual. With regard to the other regular bus lines, the city of Höxter had been observing a decline in passenger numbers for some time and complained that the buses often ran with only a few passengers on board. A problem that many municipalities and smaller towns are probably familiar with: The fixed bus schedules cannot meet the needs of all residents, and in addition, the routes are significantly longer than a direct car journey to the target destination due to the compulsory stops at all given stations. As a result, people prefer to rely on their own cars and public transport is used less and less. 

Padam Mobility and Hacon support with their technical know-how

The nph is responding to this dilemma with the new on-demand service “Holibri”. The now starting pilot project, which will run for 3 years, aims to test how people in Höxter accept the new mobility service. In this context, Padam Mobility and Hacon are providing full support to the operational team. The carefully developed concept, which among other elements includes the definition of the service area, the operating hours or the service configuration, is constantly monitored and analysed by the experts. In this way, it is possible to determine how customers react to the service, which aspects are working well and which adjustments may need to be made.

A successful first appearance 

At the end of October this year, Padam Mobility and Hacon were present at the unveiling of the new Holibri mobile and answered questions about the software. In addition to the technical details, such as how the software manages to bundle journeys in real-time to create an intelligent route planning, Sven Steinbeck, Business Developer at Hacon, was also able to clear up any remaining question marks about the booking process. Those who do not want to rely on an app or website for booking, also have the option of reserving their desired trip via telephone. Everyone else can download the Holibri app for iOS and Android. In the dedicated user profile, it is possible to access past or cancelled rides and, of course, manage upcoming trips. Shortly before and during each ride, customers can even track the exact location of their vehicle via a navigation tool. On-board wi-fi and comfortable leather seats make the experience perfect. 

nph Managing Director Marcus Klugmann was also delighted with the new on-demand offer:

During this three-year project phase, we can gain valuable insights – for possible further developments as well as the expansion of the concept to other areas.” 

At the end of the three-year test phase, it will be decided in which form the on-demand project will be continued. 

Read more about the Holibri service here (content in German) 


This article might also interest you: With Karlstadssbus Nära Padam Mobility kicks off its first DRT service in the Nordics 

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Padam Mobility launches new DRT service in Surrey

Surrey connect

“Surrey Connect” is a new on-demand service, launched by Padam Mobility in the UK. It offers residents in rural West Leatherhead a better public transport experience. 

At the beginning of November 2021, “Surrey Connect”, the new Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) service in West Leatherhead, was officially launched. The service has been in trial operation since May and has now been introduced to the local community by Surrey County Council. The new DRT service has received a contribution from the Department for Transport Rural Mobility Fund of £660,000. This reaffirms the UK’s commitment to its new mobility strategy and sends an important signal for future-oriented, sustainable transport. 

“Surrey Connect”, equipped with a fleet of 2 minibuses, is operated by Mole Valley District Council and is available weekdays from 7 am to 6 pm. The on-demand service is aimed at travel for all: elderly people who can no longer be independently mobile, young people without alternative means of mobility or commuters travelling to the station to catch a  train, for example. 

Several booking options are available on the Padam Mobility platform and users can book a trip according to their preferences, either via the “Surrey Connect” app, booking website or call centre. Tickets can then be paid for in cash on the bus. 

One particularly user-friendly aspect of the service is the flexible booking time. Users can book a trip up to 7 days in advance, and their place is guaranteed according to a first-come, first-served logic. Those who want to make a last-minute reservation can do so up to 30 minutes before departure. All they have to do is set up their starting point and destination, as well as their desired pick-up or arrival time. Padam Mobility’s intelligent algorithms, on which the on-demand service is based, then calculate an optimal route in real-time based on the total amount of bookings. In this way, the system is able to consider as many of the users’ requests as possible simultaneously, while economising on resources.  

People with reduced mobility, who use a wheelchair, for example, can also specify their requirements in the app, on the website or while booking a trip over the phone. This ensures that everyone gets exactly the support he or she needs. 

So far Surrey Connect is available in Leatherhead within the designated zones (see Figure 1), but will be rolled out to other areas of the region in the coming year. 

service area
Figure 1: Service area of the “Surrey Connect”

*Following a free-floating model, it is possible to travel to any location within the two marked zones. Only bookings from one zone to the other are permitted. The markers show the main points of interest in the area, which includes, for example, the Springfield Business Park. 

This service model provides rural areas in Leatherhead with much better connectivity where reliable access to public transport was previously unavailable. 

I am delighted that we are now able to offer this convenient, doorstep service for residents in West Leatherhead. This will help people who may be isolated due to their out of town location or have had to traditionally be heavily car dependent.”

Matt Furniss, SCC Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure

Visit the website of Surrey County Council 


  • 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


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
  • navigation interface (mobile app and tablet) for drivers
  • management interface for operators and Public Transport Authorities
  • 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

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

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