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

TPMR Royaume-Uni

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

2. Better training of staff

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

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

3. Better Information 

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

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

4. Inclusive (physical) infrastructure

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

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

5. Future of inclusive transport

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

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

 

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

Accessibility – A society-wide responsibility

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

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

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

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

 

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

Find out more about Padam Mobility 

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Glossary of transport and shared mobility

transportation glossary

Free floating, pooling, virtual line… The transportation glossary is rich and varied! And because sharing is in our DNA, here are some definitions that will help you deepen your knowledge of the mobility and transport sector.

Transportation glossary: the basics of public transport

Shared mobility: consists of a means of transport that several users can either use at the same time (carpooling, bus, Demand-Responsive Transport…) or share its use individually, such as bicycles, scooters, etc.

Intermodality: refers to the combination of several means of transport to make a trip. For example, a person living on the outskirts of a city can take the bus to the station, then a train to the city centre.

Structural transport: refers to a public transport network whose service influences the organisation and development of an area. It is said to be a structuring network when it meets most of the transport needs of a population (range of hours, speed, capacity, etc.).

Conventional transport: is a term used in opposition to new forms of transport such as car-pooling, DRT, car-sharing etc.

Sustainable mobility: refers to all non-motorised means of transport. This includes cycling, walking, scootering, or any type of collective transport, or not, that has no CO2 emissions.

First and last kilometre (or mile): this refers to the first or last section of a journey. 

Transportation glossary: the case of Demand-Responsive Transport

Dynamic Demand-Responsive Transport: It’s an on-demand transport where the route is defined in real time, depending on the reservations. This form of DRT leaves the door open to last-minute bookings. Dynamic DRTgenerally works thanks to an algorithm that allows reservations to be dispatched and journey times to be calculated.

Free floating: a vehicle is in free floating mode when it circulates freely in a zone without following a precise line. 

Virtual line: this is a classic line, but with only a few stops served, depending on the reservations.

Feeder line: A feeder line is a line that serves a particular stop at a specific time. This is the case when it is desired to match the drop-off time at a station with the arrival time of the train.

Door-to-door: A door-to-door service model refers to the possibility of pick-up and drop-off at any point within a defined area. This model is similar to the taxi model.

Multi-territory: this refers to the possibility of offering a Demand-Responsive Transport service in several distinct territories (each with its own specific characteristics) on a single booking platform.

Trigger threshold: this is the booking threshold below which a DRT service cannot start its route. 

Transportation lexicon: let’s talk technology

SaaS: for Service as a Software, is a software that is installed on a remote server rather than on the user’s computer. This form of software allows for rapid deployment as well as savings in acquisition and maintenance costs.

Ticketing: refers to all the tools used to manage transport tickets. 

Trip planner: a tool used to determine the most appropriate route based on route calculation algorithms, with different specificities, in order to improve the journey planning experience.

MaaS: for Mobility as a Service, is a concept that aims to bring together all modes of travel in a single application. This service does not include the personal vehicle, since the interest of MaaS is to limit its use as much as possible. MaaS thus provides access to multimodality and intermodality in a fluid and coherent way, whether for a short or long journey.

Passenger information system: is a tool that aims to facilitate the daily life of transport operators. The focus is on optimising the links between the operators and the network, in order to improve the management and regularity of transport.

Transportation glossary: the importance of key performance indicators

Pooling: is an indicator that measures the filling of vehicles by users. It is particularly relevant to get an idea of the success of shared mobility.

Conversion rate: all indicators related to the different conversion rates between searches, trip proposals and reservations made. These indicators give a precise idea of the volume of searches leading to a booking and the relevance of the journey proposals made to users.

Quality of service: indicators that give an idea of how the service is perceived by users through the ratings given to the service and the driver.

 

This article might interest you: Demand-Responsive Transport: explore and leverage the data generated by your service

Find out more about Padam Mobility.

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

Rural Mobility Webinar

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

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

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

What are the reasons why DRT services remain rather underdeveloped?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the full webinar in replay 

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

 

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

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Public Transport in United Kingdom : what’s next?

public transport in United Kingdom

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

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

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

The Covid crisis seems set to launch a real transformation. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decisions contested by the operators

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

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

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

 

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

Find out more about Padam Mobility.

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

rural mobility

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

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

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

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

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

Relevance of the mobility offer

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

Quality of service

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

User experience and digital transition 

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

Accessibility and sustainability 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rethinking the mobility offer as a whole

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

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

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

 

Find out more about Padam Mobility

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

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Ride booking by phone: facilitating the care of specific populations

Ride booking by phone

Ride booking by phone: betting on accessible and inclusive mobility solutions means that users who do not have a smartphone or are unfamiliar with digital tools can book their Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) and Paratransit services directly by phone.

The call centre interface proposed by Padam Mobility in its software suite is simple, intuitive and ergonomic. It guarantees quick and appropriate support for specific groups such as People with Reduced Mobility Needs (PRMs) and senior citizens, while allowing them to benefit from the full potential of Padam Mobility’s dynamic DRT optimisation algorithms.

Presentation of a solution with which 70% of Padam Mobility’s DRT services are equipped.

Se mettre à la place de l’usager pour mieux le servir

Les téléopérateurs des centrales d’appels équipées par Padam Mobility ont accès à un site web de réservation très similaire à celui de l’usager. La différence réside dans la fonctionnalité “agir en tant que” qui leur permet de prendre facilement la main sur les réservations et la gestion des comptes usagers. Que le téléopérateur ait accès à la même interface que l’usager répond à un double objectif :

Putting oneself in the user’s shoes to serve them better

The teleoperators of the call centres equipped by Padam Mobility have access to a DRT booking website very similar to the user’s one. The difference lies in the “act as” feature that allows them to easily take control of user bookings and account management. The fact that the teleoperator has access to the same interface as the user serves a dual purpose:

  • Ergonomics, speed and ease of use: because there is no reason why the teleoperator should book less easily than the user. Just like the user, the operator has access to favourite addresses and the history of rides made, so that new bookings for regular rides can be made in just two clicks.
  • Support towards digital transition: because he/she has access to the same screens, the operator can also easily accompany the user on the phone when he/she tries to make his/her own bookings on his/her own browser.

The interest of our call centre solution lies in the specific support it provides for DRT or Paratransit booking over the phone. It is also an excellent tool to support the digital transition and empowerment in the booking process of populations who want to take the plunge but do not necessarily dare to take the plunge”.

Inès Chaibi, Head of the Customer Success Department at Padam Mobility.

With our call centre solutions, we enable users who are not used the latest digital tools to benefit from all the technological innovation made possible by the ride and itinerary optimisation algorithms we develop. In this way, we make all the advantages of an exceptional innovation accessible to the greatest number of people”.

Thibault Lécuyer Weber, Chief Marketing Officer at Padam Mobility.

Book quickly and easily for a user: instructions of use

Thanks to the Padam Mobility call centre solution, teleoperators can make bookings on behalf of the user:

  • By entering an address manually, with the help of the user to fill in the fields when entering the address.
  • By choosing one of the user’s favourite addresses, if they have been previously informed,
  • By duplicating a past ride from the booking history

Teleoperators then provide the pick-up or drop-off time desired by the user, as well as the desired date(s), recurrence (if any) and number of passengers. Once the results are displayed, they describe over the telephone the characteristics of each of the proposed itineraries (departure and arrival times, walking time, etc.). If one of the proposed itinerary corresponds to the user’s needs, they confirm the ride booking.

Booking by phone
Make a booking easily through the Padam Mobility call centre interface

The user then receives the same information he/she would have received when making his/her own booking: a confirmation email, a reminder SMS and a SMS notifying him/her that the vehicle is approaching.

When the integration of the central call centre solution is set up with a telephony tool, teleoperators are automatically connected to the account of the user who contacts them.

Accompanying is also being accompanied

Teleoperators in charge of making bookings by tphone via the Padam Mobility call centre interface can receive a dedicated training. In addition to the presentation of the tool, it aims to provide detailed explanations and answer questions. A real-time demonstration allows each teleoperator to learn step by step the main tasks that will be entrusted to him/her:

  • Creating a user account and modifying his/her personal information
  • Searching for a user and making a booking on his/her behalf
  • Explanation of the key information to be given back to the user on the service operation or his/her ride booking in particular
  • Access to a user’s ride history
  • Cancellation or modification of a ride booking

Once trained, the teleoperator benefits from support from Padam Mobility’s Customer Success team through a dedicated support interface. This interface allows him/her to access at any time to:

  • A complete and regularly updated documentation
  • A FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) window
  • A ticketing service for specific questions or questions that are not listed in the FA

The training of the teleoperators and the support provided by our teams aim to guarantee the success of the DRT or Paratransit services. It is also an opportunity to make the teleoperators aware of the adapted support they need to provide to certain specific populations such as the elderly”.

Chloé Forestier, Customer Support manager chez Padam Mobility.

 

This article might interest you: Survey: What your paratransit users really need

Find out more about Padam Mobility

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Survey: What your paratransit users really need

DRT and Paratransit: Woman in a wheelchair is waiting.

75% of paratransit users are unsatisfied with the current state of paratransit services, a survey by Padam Mobility has revealed. Find out what People with Reduced Mobility really expect from a barrier-free mobility and how to achieve it.

Over 14 million People with Reduced Mobility live in the UK. 12 million in France, and 8 million with severe disabilities in Germany. More than 90 % are using public transport. Public authorities and transit operators need to adjust their services to make it fair and easy to use for everyone.

“Paratransit services are a rigid and restrictive system which prohibits any spontaneity”

Why users are unsatisfied with paratransit services

We polled people with mobility impairments. While the majority is using transportation at least twice a week, more than 60% depend on the schedule of the public service to plan their daily life. And independence comes at a high cost – with an expensive adapted car, or a taxi.

Very often, paratransit services will also require planification 24h in advance.

Public schedules make it hard to avoid long waiting times, too early pick-ups or late drop-offs. Since more than 70% need to travel to different destinations or at different times every day, the transportation offer needs to be more flexible.

Here is a dropdown of the most used means of transportation in the population we surveyed

paratransit

Paratransit services are the main solution, but have a lot of room for improvement.

“Paratransit takes me too long to wait. I have to be ready 30 minutes before the booking and wait another 30 minutes before the vehicle arrives”

This is why 75% of paratransit users are unsatisfied with the current state of paratransit services.

The second major need to consider is accessibility. On top of accessible bus stops and vehicles, booking a ride can also be a challenge for People with Reduced Mobility. Most of the services are not digitised and thus cannot take into account additional dwelling times for wheelchair users when booking a ride. A digital booking solution will take this into account, and to make the service more efficient and user-friendly.

Last but not least, security and comfort is a third need that users with reduced mobility wish to see addressed. Traveling together with caregivers or companions, and having a dedicated seat for them can be essential.

Here are the 6 main issues paratransit users have finally shared with us

  • Lack of spontaneity
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Loss of time (vehicle delay / trip with many detours)
  • Poor accessibility
  • Stress related to delay and space in the vehicle
  • Dependence on a third party

Dynamic DRT for paratransit users

Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) offers an opportunity to create barrier-free public transport: it focuses on its users rather than the schedule. Since over 70% People with Reduced Mobility live in suburban areas, DRT allows a door-to-door service with barrier-free vehicles. With the booking options such as selecting a number of wheelchair seats and enabling booking by third parties, transit operators can increase the quality of their paratransit service without causing tremendous operating costs.

Example of dynamic DRT features that address issues for People with Reduced Mobility:

Real-time booking Allows more spontaneity, rides can be booked less than 30 min in advance
Dynamic schedules based on the demand Allows more flexibility
Real-time notifications on the vehicle approach Avoids long waiting times at pick-up stops
Booking by a third-party Allow caregivers or companions to take care of the paratransit users’ mobility when their situation does not allow them to book a ride directly
Door-to-door service Improves accessibility drastically
Specific dwelling time per user or user type Improves the reliability of the service by taking into account the amount of time necessary to pick-up and drop-off a user, depending on his specificity
Additional information on users Allows the service to fit the users’ specific needs thanks to useful information shared with operators and drivers
Additional information on equipments Ensures the vehicles are adapted to onboard any specific equipment (wheelchairs, etc.)

In cooperation with transport operators, Padam Mobility provides a response to the mobility and digitalisation challenges of paratransit services and stakeholders. Smart shared mobility services allow users to book their rides in real-time, as well as vehicles that have space for a wheelchair or baby carriage. Therefore, the transport service becomes more accessible and flexible for everyone.

Padam Mobility powers the software behind paratransit services in Brittany (BreizhGo), in Pays-de-la-Loire (Aléop), in Le Pays de Saint-Omer (Mouvéo), Limoges (RRTHV), Chalons-en-Champagne (Sitac), in Pays-du-Mont-Blanc (Montenbus) and in the Landes department (Oé à la demande).

On these services, the most important and popular features are the door to door service, the additional information on users and the ability to adapt dwelling times for pick-up and drop-off depending on the user’s specificities.

TPMR          TPMR 1

Are you operating a paratransit service? What are the major pain points or users are addressing? Comment this article and share our thoughts and opinions with us!

These articles may be of interest to you:

Is Demand-Responsive Transport relevant in urban areas?

Find out more about Padam Mobility’s Paratransit offer here.

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

territories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anything becomes possible.

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

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

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

 

Find out more about Padam Mobility

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

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

responsible mobility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The image of transportation modes is changing

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

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

“The bus must become the iPhone of transportation modes”

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

What if everything had to be redone?

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

Bus de ville

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

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

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

“Saving time and improving commercial speeds”

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

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

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

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

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

Thibault Lécuyer-Weber – Chief Marketing Officer, Padam Mobility

 

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

 

Find out more about Padam Mobility solutions

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

 

 

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Our trainee tested the Plus de Pep’s DRT: here’s what she thinks about it

DRT plus

Our trainee tested the Plus de Pep’s DRT service in Paris region: here’s what she thinks about it! Eva, 19 years old, marketing trainee at Padam Mobility for 5 months, tells her first experience with Demand-Responsive Transport.

“I’ve been living in Paris for 2 months now, and it’s really a change from Rennes or the town where my parents live, in Brittany. Here, I take the metro every day and recently I was able to test the Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) for the first time on the Plus de Pep’s service in Chessy-Marne-la-Vallée.”

“Before I was doing my internship at Padam Mobility, I had no idea about Demand-Responsive Transport. The first time I heard about it, I immediately thought of a vehicle for hire service. I quickly understood it was (most often) a public minibus service that had to be booked on an application to get around.”

“To book my trip, I used the Plus de Pep’s app on iOS. I found it simple and fluid to use, it only took me a few minutes to book my trip from Chessy to the Lagny Thorigny train station. I received a validation message to confirm my booking and that was it! 10 minutes before the proposed pick-up time, I went to the location indicated on the map in the app. At first, I had a hard time finding the right location, so I waited for the bus to show up on the map and went to meet it when it arrived. The driver gave me a warm welcome. He was on time. He was very kind by indicating his presence to a few latecomers who couldn’t find his location either. I have been struck (in a good way) by the human contact during pick up”.

“I felt privileged, compared to the classic bus or the metro. I felt like I had access to a service that was there just for me.”

“When I got in the minibus, I noticed the sanitary rules against Covid19 were respected: hydroalcoholic gel was provided, prevention posters, plexiglas separating the driver from the users. Every second seat was condemned in order to guarantee social distancing. The trip lasted about thirty minutes. We passed through several small villages and hamlets, I was very surprised because we were only one hour from Paris. Once we arrived at the Lagny-Thorigny train station, the driver opened the door to the other passengers and myself, wishing to see us again on his service. Class!”

“Thanks to the DRT, I was able to cross small towns and cities that don’t necessarily have direct or easy access to Paris. I thought it was an ideal solution for quick and inexpensive excursions in the Paris countryside. For me, the big advantage is that the service is included in my traveler card!”

“In conclusion, I found the service pleasant and secure, the interaction with the driver was a real plus and my minibus was punctual. I didn’t have any imperative, but it reassured me the service was reliable, especially since I had to take a train ride.”

“In the 900-inhabitant- town where I grew up in Brittany, daily travels are impossible without using a car: no buses, shuttles, DRTs or even taxis are offered. Without a driving licence, it was very frustrating for me not to be able to go to bigger cities like Saint-Malo, Dinan, Dinard or Rennes, even though they were close by. A DRT service would have been very useful for me and my parents who had to take taxis veeeeery often.”

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