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Regional DRT service of the German transport association VGI expands further

VGI Flexi

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

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

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

Several providers united on the DRT platform

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VGI-Flexi soon available in more areas

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

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

 

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

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

Le réseau TàD IDFM avec Padam Mobility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grégoire Bonnat, CEO and Co-Founder of Padam Mobility

About Padam Mobility, a Siemens Mobility Company

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

About setec its, a subsidiary of the setec Group

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

About R3LIEF

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

About Île-de-France Mobilités

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

 

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

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Goodbye 2022 – a glance back at the past 12 months of Padam Mobility

Newly developed territories, service expansions, media coverage, relocation to a new HQ, new innovation areas, strong growth… A look back at an intense 2022 for Padam Mobility.

JANUARY

Orléans Métropole is extending its Résa’Tao DRT network to 4 new, redesigned zones, and a fleet of 39 vehicles.

With this project, TAO Orléans Métropole is positioning itself as one of France’s most innovative and advanced transport on-demand networks.

Padam Mobility took the opportunity to visit the site. Find here the interview of Romain Roy, Vice-President of Orléans Métropole, about the support of Padam Mobility in the implementation of the Résa’Tao network in Orléans.

“We have the feeling that we are investing taxpayers’ money better, especially as Orléans Métropole’s strategy is not to save money but to offer a better service. Transport on Demand, which is an innovative solution that does not exclude anyone, not only complements the classic offer but goes further by connecting 100% of the inhabitants of Orléans Métropole to the existing transport offer… “

Romain Roy, Vice-President responsible for transport and travel at Orléans Métropole

Learn more

FEBRUARY

New services in Bourges: Vitabus and Libertibus

Operated by Agglobus (RatpDev), Vitabus offers mobility to residents of communes that are not served by the network’s fixed routes. The LibertiBus service, on the other hand, meets the travel needs of people with reduced mobility residing in the 20 communes of the region (Bourges Plus, Saint-Florent-sur-Cher, Fussy and Pigny).

50 recruitments for Padam Mobility in 2022

Following its acquisition by Siemens, and to sustain i strong growth, the company is constantly recruiting various profiles. From trainees to senior staff, from the sales department to developers and HR… This year, all of the company’s value chains have been reinforced. A dozen positions are still available on the Welcome to the Jungle page of Padam Mobility.

Learn more about our values – Link to Padam Mobility’s website

Padam Mobility and Landor Links host Masterclass series

Together with Landor Links, Padam kicked off a three-part masterclass series. The aim of the series was to talk to partners and experts about current developments in the field of shared mobility. Participants, mainly transport operators and transport authorities, had the chance to voice their questions and concerns about DRT and get advice on how to integrate DRT into their BSIPs applications.

In the first Masterclass, Antonio Carmona, General Manager International and Head of UK Sales at Ticketer, and David Carnero, former 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.  

In the second masterclass, David spoke with Prospective Labs CEO and founder Pete Ferguson about the importance of data for DRT networks.

The third masterclass focused on the scaling potential of DTR services. On this topic, our former Head of UK Business Development Jack Holland spoke with Daniel Mould, General Director of WeDRT.

MARCH 

Andorra: launch of the UCLIC service in Encamp and Canilo

Uclic is a Transport on Demand service operated by Feda that offers users the opportunity to travel around the cities of Encamp and Canilo for 1 euro. The service is carried out with an 8-seater vehicle and has a total of 56 stops covering the different areas of the two municipalities.

The aim of this service is to bring the remote areas of the city closer to the centre and to facilitate sustainable mobility for all, particularly for the most disadvantaged, such as the elderly and young people. The service has been very well received: Nine months later, more than 72,000 reservations have been made, with an average rating of 4.9/5 for the service.

APRIL 

Padam Mobility and Hacon start their first joint On-Demand project in Switzerland

SALÜ, an on-demand service offered by Swiss transport operator BUS Ostschweiz AG, was launched in March for the city of Wil. Users have access to a Web App, and IOS and Android apps to obtain information and book the service. Padam Mobility and Hacon were responsible for the technical implementation. SALÜ is already the fifth on-demand transport project implemented by the two Siemens subsidiaries in the DACH region within just a few months. 

MAY

European rollout is accelerating with new DRT services in Spain

Two DRT services have been launched under the name TADex in the rural areas of Bajadoz (operator: Damas Extremadura), and Cáceres (operator: Solís Autocares) in Extremadura, Spain. They provide an essential travel solution for these areas, which are far from the main centre.

More about Padam Mobility’s use cases – Link to our blog

Padam Mobility is part of Siemen’s booth at the IT-Trans in Karlsruhe (Germany)

At this year’s IT-Trans trade fair in Karlsruhe, the Padam team was prominently integrated on the Siemens Mobility stand. After about a year as a firm part of the Siemens Mobility family, the software companies are increasingly growing together and showing their strength as a unit for intermodal transport systems.

JUNE

VGI-FLEXI: On-demand transport in the suburban area of Beilngries (Germany)

Since June 2022, the Greater Ingolstadt area has a new Demand Responsive Transport service called VGI-Flexi. The district of Eichstätt is the first VGI member association to introduce a digital Transport on Demand service, enabling the residents of Beilngries, Kinding and Plankstetten to benefit from a flexible mobility service. The service area comprises about 70 stops.

In October, the service was extended to a new area, around Scheyern. Four more areas will follow in 2023. Stay tuned!

Set-up of a Paratransit, peri-urban and rural DRT network in Aveyron with Agglobus, and in Rubanbleu for rural services.

Operated by SATAR, these complementary services now cover a significant part of the areas not covered by traditional networks. Thus, rural and suburban residents and those with reduced mobility can contact a call centre to request a ride. In total, fifteen vehicles have been chartered to improve the territorial coverage of public transport in the area.

Download our case study about DRT in rural ares

STO in Canada extends collaboration with Padam Mobility to offer on-demand transport in the areas of Buckingham and Masson-Angers

Also, great news from Canada – our client the Outaouais Transport Company (Société de transport de l’Outaouais, STO) decided to extend the on-demand transport service for local trips in Buckingham and Masson-Angers districts for a second consecutive year. This means residents in these districts can continue to use STO’s on-demand service in addition to the regular bus network and active modes of transport.

JULY

Padam Mobility pilots autonomous vehicles in Lyon

As part of the EU-funded AVENUE project, which tested autonomous shuttles in four European cities, including Luxembourg, Geneva and Copenhagen, Padam Mobility was selected as a technology partner to run the autonomous DRT experiment in the Lyon region.

Learn more about our AV solutions

AUGUST

Padam Mobility and Hacon launch a mobility application in Albi

In the context of a growing mobility offer and changing needs, the Albigeois Agglomeration Community has introduced a new regional brand for its mobility offers: libéA. This new brand reflects the ambition to provide the territory’s inhabitants with sustainable and reliable mobility. Behind this brand is a desire to harmonise the transport offer in order to facilitate intermodal travel for users.

The new brand identity is reflected in the new libéA mobilités application, developed by Hacon and Padam Mobility and available since the end of June. Users of the application enjoy an enhanced experience when planning their trips. The best intermodal connections are presented on the basis of existing data transmitted in real-time by the various local public operators in the agglomeration.

Visit our blog for further information

SEPTEMBER

A new service in Leicester

NovusFlex is an on-demand transport service that gives people the opportunity to travel around the New Lubbesthorpe area and access jobs and services in the neighbouring towns of Leicester and Narborough. New Lubbesthorpe is a new development located between Leicester and Narborough. 

The service, launched in August 2022 and operated by Vectare, will complement a regular shuttle service between the development and Leicester city centre.

New Lubbesthorpe’s landowner and main developer, The Drummond Estate, funded the service to provide residents with attractive and flexible transport options. Go Travel Solutions, a consultancy specialising in sustainable mobility solutions, acted as lead advisor in the design and installation of this innovative transport service.

Access the service’s website

Cognac: Deployment of a door-to-door DRT for PRM and senior citizens

Launched in September 2022, Trans’porte is a door-to-door transport-on-demand service operating on reservation throughout four defined zones in the Grand Cognac area. Operated by TRANSCOM, Trans’Porte runs from Monday to Saturday, excluding public holidays, on the basis of 3 days per week and per zone.

A Transport on Demand service initiated by a municipality: Blagnac is following the example of Clamart

The “TAD Blagnac” is the new free DRT service that was set up to complement the Toulouse urban network in poorly served urban areas. It is aimed at residents of the Layrac, Savoie and Les Prés districts. It has about sixty stops spread across the town.

Padam Mobility further expands its presence in Europe

Padam Mobility continues its national and international development with new deployments.

Our new launches not only reinforce our leadership in intelligent DRT solutions, they also confirm that our customers consider Padam Mobility to be a truly trusted partner. A company whose experts make their know-how available to operators and local authorities for the co-construction of sustainable mobility solutions. Solutions that make perfect sense in the context of the current power crisis.”

Grégoire Bonnat, CEO at Padam Mobility

Padam Mobility is part of the Siemens Mobility stand at Inno Trans in Berlin

Inno Trans in Berlin is one of the world’s largest trade fairs for public mobility. As part of the Siemens Mobility family, Padam Mobility was represented together with its sister companies Hacon, eos.uptrade and Sqills at the impressive Siemens Mobility stand on over 1000m². Together with our teams, we were able to present our on-demand technology to the visitors and also talk about our possibilities of linking road and rail.

Find out more (Text in German)

OCTOBER

Padam Mobility showcases the silent revolution of Dynamic On-Demand Transport on the occasion of the inauguration of its new headquarters

Grégoire Bonnat, CEO and co-founder, and Thibault Lécuyer, COO, spoke about the recent boom in on-demand transport and the outlook for the coming months. Following Padam Mobility’s invitation, Vincent Pilloy and Virgile Lapierre, from the Collectif mobilité Île-de-France, a partner of Padam Mobility, presented the results of their latest survey on travel in the greater Paris region.

Spending power, regional development, agile and inexpensive investment, positive environmental impact, social cohesion… there are many reasons that can explain the 150% growth in the use of Padam Mobility’s services over the last 16 months. And while the media may not yet be making a big deal of it, users are embracing the silent revolution.

Visit our blog for further information

UK: The Robin, a new Transport on Demand service, is introduced in Gloucestershire

The Robin on-demand service was launched in mid-October 2022 in Gloucestershire. The aim of the service is to provide reliable public transport to the largely rural areas of the Forest of Dean and North Cotswolds. Many people in these areas have little access to public transport, which significantly reduces their overall quality of life.

Users can book the service by phone, app or through the booking website. For the latter two options, they can choose to pay directly via the website or app, or by cash or debit card when entering the vehicle.

Visit the service’s website

A new use case for Transport on Demand: Cultural outings

This new use case of Transport on Demand for Padam Mobility is already bringing concrete benefits. The public can escape traffic jams around cultural venues by not having to use their own vehicle. The overall aim of this initiative is to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of cultural events, while at the same time relieving the public transport networks, both at peak and off-peak times.

Visit our blog for more information

Concentrated Power for Northern Europe: Sales Team at Persontrafik in Stockholm with its own stand

In August, the sales team for the Northern European market expanded – Padam Moblity was able to recruit Pranav Chittur as the new Business Development Manager.

In October, Pranav and other sales colleagues represented Padam not only at the Maas in Europe conference in Amsterdam, but also at Persontrafik in Sweden.

NOVEMBER

The Linggo service in the Langres region wins an award from the French Federation

In a bid to digitalise the region, the MixedTransport Syndicate of the Pays de Langres commissioned Padam Mobility to deploy its Transport on Demand solution.

The spotlight brought by the “Federation of things that work” is now giving Linggo’s founders a taste for more. “We really want to help other elected representatives interested in setting up this type of network. We were helped fifteen years ago and now we want to help other territories to set up a transport network adapted to their needs.

Already, elected representatives from the Vendée, the South-West and even the Paris region have shown interest in the system.

Find out more (Text in French)

Padam Mobility at the AGIR days in Nice

Padam Mobility was joined at the AGIR Days by Elisabeth Portelli, head of the Icilà service of Envibus operated by the Sophia Antipolis Agglomeration Community. Together with the Padam team, she provided details to visitors about the DRT service, which was launched in July 2019. Since its launch, more than 200,000 passengers have been transported. The initial objective was to meet the mobility needs of the region, which is made up of 21 municipalities with nearly 2,500 businesses and more than 68,000 jobs in an area of 24 km².

We currently work with Padam Mobility in 15 municipalities. We have a ticket system for technical problems, and the support team is responsive and attentive to our needs. There are real constructive exchanges and the software is updated on a regular basis.”

Elisabeth Portelli, Head of DRT at Icilà de Envibus

ULTIMO announces Padam Mobility as official partner

In early October 2022, the first phase of the project started, involving renowned partners from the fields of transport, vehicle manufacturing, science and research, politics and technology. They all share a holistic goal of developing autonomous public transport services that can be integrated into the existing infrastructure to move people in a resource-efficient, inclusive and cost-effective way.

In November, the official project launch was celebrated in Brussels. Padam Mobility’s Project Lead Javier Guimerá presented Padam Mobilty’s on-demand AV solutions to the other partners and gave insights into the successes of the AV projects supported by Padam Mobility so far.

Holibri in the fast lane: After less than a year, on-demand service in Höxter, Germany already welcomes 50,000 passenger

In December 2021, the on-demand service “Holibri” was introduced in Höxter, a city with a population of around 30,000 – easily accessible with almost 1,300 virtual stops throughout the city. And the service is catching on: An average of 4,500 passengers per month use the fleet, which is powered exclusively by green electricity – and consists of only 4 vehicles in total.

More information (Text in German)

DECEMBER

IDFM renews trust in Padam Mobility for another four years

The Padam Mobility – Setec consortium has once again been selected by Île-de-France Mobilités to continue the deployment of TàD Île-de-France Mobilités until 2026.

The Transport on Demand service operated by Île-de-France Mobilités is one of the largest DRT networks in the world. In a couple of days, it is expected to reach one million passengers. The system provides a response to the challenges of mobility in areas with low population density and poor connections to the regular infrastructure. For the renewal, the agency RƎLIEF was appointed to boost the popularity of the offer among users.

2023: Off to a great start!

On Thursday 12 January, Padam Mobility is hosting its own event: MeetUp Mobility in Marseille. The focus of the event is on public-private dialogue in the context of shared mobility projects in rural areas.

The idea behind it? To exchange opinions and make initiatives known.

Autonomous vehicle operated by TGP in Geneva
  •   Alternating between high and low population density in a multi-faceted area
  •   Geological and topographical constraints: Coastal areas, mountains…
  •   Seasonal mobility needs
  •   Ageing population
  •   Car traffic

Further info and registration

 

 

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With changing travel patterns, is it time to flex the business model?

Beate Kubitz
Beate Kubitz, Picture by Chipps Chippendale

An Article by Beate Kubitz

Against the noise of ‘never-ending crises’ it’s sometimes hard to see patterns emerging.

But one of the interesting clarities that has emerged post-lockdowns (if not entirely post-Covid) is the change in trip distribution. Public transport has become less ‘peaky’ – traditional commuter services at peak fares are still not reaching pre-Covid levels whilst leisure and off-peak services are, in many areas, exceeding them.

Which has some interesting implications for bus and rail. Business models over the years have been built on high volume, full price, peak ticket sales. Highly-utilised peak time services have generated the kinds of incomes which have ensured that vehicles carrying fewer people paying off-peak fares (and often with concessionary passes) can complete the time table over the course of the day. As income from peak fares and services declines, what happens to this business model?

Similar numbers of people travelling, but a higher proportion paying a lower fare, inevitably means lower overall income.

How does the industry flex the business model so that it works across the time table? Is this in fact an opportunity to invest in ensuring a time table that serves people with better off-peak frequencies to further appeal to people travelling at all times of day?

Whilst it’s hard to answer these questions, at least as a DRT platform we have an insight into what business models might look like beyond those based on cross-subsidising off-peak with peak services. The small vehicles used in DRT do not have the capacity to support a peak / off peak model. Even full, they don’t have the capacity to generate the fares that balance out less use in the off peak. Instead, the task is to find an optimal level throughout the day as different groups complete trips for different reasons. One operator calculated that an average occupancy of 8 people would suffice.

Successful services focus on providing a mix of commuter services (for instance serving commuter rail stations) during the early morning, refocusing on schools and colleges and then on shopping, social care trips and or non-emergency transport during the day.  One key difference that DRT has from fixed route services is that DRT has the ability to respond to individual passenger need – so even services configured as ‘corner to corner’ for most trips can offer door-to-door for people with particular mobility requirements. The algorithm will ensure tailored services for some people don’t mean reduced quality (i.e longer trips) for others – ensuring that DRT can meet multiple needs throughout the day.

The question is, with off-peak demand on the rise, is it time to look at DRT as an option?

 

This article might interest you as well: Launching DRT – An Operator Perspective 

Get in touch 

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EU-funded ULTIMO project brings Padam Mobility on board as technology partner for new AV projects

The research and promotion of user-centred and more sustainable mobility through autonomous vehicles are the core objectives of the EU-funded ULTIMO HORIZON EUROPE project. 

In early October 2022, the first phase of the project started, involving renowned partners from the fields of transport, vehicle manufacturing, science and research, politics and technology. They all share a holistic goal of developing autonomous public transport services that can be integrated into the existing infrastructure to move people in a resource-efficient, inclusive and cost-effective way. At the core of these efforts is that the services are on-demand, bundle as many people as possible per trip and are scalable. 

Padam Mobility has already been involved in the predecessor project AVENUE (Autonomous Vehicles to Evolve to a New Urban Experience), which ended in October 2022. As a specialist in the field of on-demand transport, Padam Mobility was selected as the technology provider for the autonomous DRT service OL Vallée operated by Keolis. With the interfaces provided by Padam Mobility, it was possible for users of the autonomous driving service to order a shuttle bus via app and track its progress in real-time as well as validating their pick-up by means of an advanced QR code system.

Following the successful completion of the AVENUE project, ULTIMO is the next important step towards integrating autonomous on-demand services more firmly into the public transport system.

The entire project period will span over four years and will be backed by 40 million euros, with the European Union contributing a share of 24 million euros and Switzerland 16 million euros. 

Initially, three areas located in the region of Oberfranken (Germany), Oslo (Norway) and Geneva (Switzerland) have been identified as suitable test environments. In each of these areas, the ULTIMO partners will test autonomously driving on-demand transport and thus contribute to the advancement of the technology.

Autonomously driving public transport offers decisive advantages that have the potential to minimise existing challenges. These include traffic safety, saving resources and environmentally friendly operations. All these factors qualify on-demand AV as a promising future form of public transportation.

In about a week, on 29 November 2022, all project partners will gather in Brussels to officially launch the ULTIMO project. In addition, Padam Mobility will be present at the POLIS conference in Brussels the following day and is looking forward to presenting the project in more detail to interested visitors. 

 

 

 

This article might also interest you: Padam Mobility pilots autonomous on-demand vehicles in Lyon 

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New DRT service “The Robin” reaches people in rural areas without public or private transport

The Robin DRT
Over 6,000 households which have no access to a car in Gloucester now have access to buses on demand.

A new on-demand bus service, ‘The Robin’, launched in mid-October, offers rural residents in the Forest of Dean and Cotswolds new access to public transport.

The new service will serve over a hundred small towns, villages and hamlets that have no public transport links or services with extremely low frequencies. These areas also include a large number of households with no access to a car: 5,000 households in the Forest of Dean and 1,600 household in the Cotswold area. Lack of transport options means that thousands of local people have very limited transport options – and may be dependent on friends or family to access essential services, jobs, education and go shopping.

The Robin will cover two areas. One minibus serves the southern area, the Forest of Dean, covering an area about 23 miles long, with the village of Huntley in the north and the small town of Chepstow in the south. The service can be booked from 70 villages and hamlets across the area, from over a hundred ‘virtual stops’. Two minibuses cover the northern section – the Cotswolds area, from Chipping Campden in the north to Windrush, 20 miles south, serving over 50 villages and hamlets. The service runs from 7 am to 7 pm, Monday to Saturday.

Users can book the service by phone, app or online and tickets can be bought online and in the app or with cash or card payment on the bus. The trips cost £2.50 for up to 7 miles and £4.00 over 7 miles, concessionary pass holders are free and children travel at reduced fares. The 16-seat minibuses are fully accessible by wheelchair and the wheelchair space is reserved on booking.

The service’s areas were designed to improve connections for people who have few or no public transport links close to their homes. As demand is difficult to predict in sparsely populated areas, fixed-line services can be difficult to run efficiently. DRT services run when people need them and the ability to book in advance offers certainty for people requiring onward connections. The new service is aimed at ensuring people can get where they need to go – including connecting them to fixed-line bus and rail services. People can book upto two weeks in advance and upto an hour before they want to travel. The DRT platform designs and optimises routes to ensure that people reach their destinations on time. The algorithm ensures that the service cannot be booked in competition with fixed route buses when are running – ensuring that any existing services are not undermined.

The Robin service is a two-year trial designed by Gloucester County Council, which was awarded £1.35 million funding by the government’s Rural Mobility Fund. Buses are operated by local bus operators, using the Padam Mobility DRT platform.

Data generated by the platform will help shape the services and inform future planning to meet the needs of Gloucester residents beyond the end of the trial.

 

This article might also interest you: New Service Launch in Leicester

Learn more about Padam Mobility 

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New service launch in Leicester

Padam Mobility powers new on-demand service “NovusFlex” to give New Lubbesthorpe residents better access to everyday mobility

NovusFlex is a new on-demand transport service enabling people to travel around the New Lubbesthorpe area and connecting them to jobs and services in nearby Leicester and Narborough. Launched in August, powered by Padam Mobility technology and operated by Vectare, NovusFlex works to complement a regular shuttle between the estate and Leicester city centre.

New Lubbesthorpe is a recent housing development that lies between Leicester and Narborough. The NovusFlex service operates between 6 am and 11pm, Monday to Sunday to ensure that people can travel to work or education, as well as use services or visit neighbouring towns for leisure purposes. It can be booked by users by app, phone or online.

The New Lubbesthorpe landowner and lead developer, The Drummond Estate, funded the service in order to offer residents an attractive and flexible connection. Go Travel Solutions, a consultancy specialising in sustainable mobility solutions acted as the principal consultant for the design and deployment of the innovative transport service. The service was designed in collaboration with technology provider Padam Mobility.

To optimise coverage of the area using just two vehicles at the start, the area was divided into three zones (see figure).

The New Lubbesthorpe development is within Zone 2, and the service enables people to travel within the Zone or to destinations within the other Zones.

Zone 1 comprises the city centre of Leicester, a key employment centre with many attractions and a mainline train station for onward travel (for example to London). Zone 3 contains the town of Narborough and its station. For residents of New Lubbesthorpe, this means easy access to all points of interest in Leicester city centre, as well as to the train station in Narborough.  To maximise efficiency, the service will only pick up or drop off people within Zone 1 and Zone 3 (it can’t be used to travel around these Zones).

The service costs £3 to £4 per trip, but tickets can also be purchased more cheaply in packages. Users have the option to pay for their ride via the app, online, by phone, and also directly to the driver.

NovusFlex is available from Monday to Sunday from 6 am to 11 pm and offers users new freedom of movement, especially in the evening when there was previously no comparable transport service.  It works in tandem with a new fixed shuttle, NovusDirect, also operated by Vectare, between New Lubbesthorpe and Leicester city centre.

 

This article might alos interest you: Padam Mobility pilots autonomous on-demand vehicle in Lyon

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What does the £2 bus cap mean for DRT?

Rural bus stop

The UK government announced a £2 bus fare cap across England to save passengers money.

With many DRT fares based on distance, this cap could benefit rural passengers who generally travel much further distances between their homes and education, employment and services and often for leisure and social purposes because of the dispersed nature of these areas.

Whilst urban dwellers travelled an average of 4.89 miles per trip according to the 2021 National Travel Survey, people living in rural villages, hamlets and isolated dwelling travelled 8.38 miles per trip on average. Rural travellers made slightly more trips on average per person by a small margin (769 vs urban travellers’ 748) they also travelled the furthest distance on average with 6,449 miles per person in 2021, compared to the average for urban conurbations where people travelled 3,661 miles per year on average. Whilst these were the most extreme differences, people living in rural towns and fringe areas lie in between with 6.57 miles per trip (making on average 751 trips totalling 4,935 miles per year) and urban city and town dwellers travelling 5.84 miles on average (a total of 4,456 miles over 763 trips per year).

Car ownership and use is also markedly higher in rural areas – correlating strongly with poor or absent of public transport.

At the same time, recent trials of DRT in rural areas have shown there is demand for bus services when they are reliable and get people to the places they need to be at the times they need to be there. Often though, where fares are set per mile, this can mean several pounds per trip.

The £2 cap could shrink the costs of DRT to passengers and increase the take up of DRT even further, helping to accelerate change in rural areas and reduce car dependency.

Details of how the cap will be administered are yet to be published. But as the appetite to use buses grows, we need to ensure that the cap is fully funded so that this new demand can be met.

 

This article could also interest you: It’s time to rethink our regulations 

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Why travel times of transport-on-demand services should be communicated and how they can be improved

Many people believe that on-demand services are not able to be on time. To overcome this image, Padam Mobility works to better communicate and optimise the estimated travel times for its on-demand and paratransit services.

Communication of travel times: significant impact on users of on-demand and paratransit services

Users of on-demand and paratransit services expect that the pick-up times they are offered will be guaranteed. This is understandable, of course, because no one wants to be late for medical appointments, miss connecting trains, arrive late for work or school, and so on. The desire for a reliable transport service increases the rarer public transport journeys become available or the more remote an area is. If on-demand transport services are implemented appropriately, it is mainly feeder lines¹ or “diverging” lines² that can provide punctual intermodal connections with the main transport lines of an area.

Communication of travel times: a great importance for the quality of services

Better information enables better communication between drivers and users, ensuring satisfaction for all stakeholders in on-demand and paratransit services.

Regardless of the type of configuration, the user must be able to access clear and transparent information at any time, informing him of possible disruptions to the service. Real-time information, delivered by notification via the user app or by email, is therefore crucial.

In addition, drivers also need accurate information about how long it will take them to get from A to B, how traffic conditions will affect them and to estimate whether there may be delays. This type of information allows them to have better control over their journey times.

Optimising travel times: cartographic layers for initial assessments of traffic conditions

When establishing an on-demand or paratransit service, considerations are made to best address the regional conditions of an area. First, a travel time estimate is created using several cartographic layers, one of which was specifically developed by the Padam Mobility teams.

These different layers provide information on traffic conditions, particularly in real-time, i.e. at the time a journey is made. They analyse different impacts on the routes followed by the vehicles and store the information generated as additional factors that affect the travel time of the following trips.

Optimising travel times: Effects of passenger pooling

The benefit of on-demand or paratransit services is that passengers are pooled in the same vehicle. This may require the vehicle to take detours in order to pool as many passengers as possible who are sharing part of their journey.

While the cartographic layers provide information about traffic conditions that allow for an estimate of travel time, these estimates are further refined by the consideration of diversion rates. These rates correspond to the number of detours a passenger may take. They are calculated for each reservation based on the direct travel time between the point of departure and arrival by applying a multiplication factor to this direct route. The diversion rates are then adjusted according to the specificities of the area and the requirements of the respective mobility authorities.

The estimation of diversion times allows users to have an accurate idea of their ride (duration, arrival time, possible delay, etc.) and organise themselves accordingly. Cartographic layers, pooling of bookings and diversion rates continuously provide Padam Mobility’s teams with information that allows them to develop tools that meet users’ needs and guarantee them the best experience. An internal study by Padam Mobility has even shown that diversion rates have a positive impact on perceived punctuality.

 

Learn more about Padam Mobility 

This article might interest you: Without the guarantee of advanced booking, no efficient route optimisation 


¹The “Feeder” line configuration allows users to be picked up at one or more specific stops and dropped off at one or more points that need to be served at specific times, so that several consecutive points of interest can be served.

²The line configuration “divergent” enables the establishment of an on-demand service for which no prior reservation is required. Users specify their stop request directly to the driver when they board the bus. The driver then selects the stop that the user wants to go to.

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It’s time to rethink our regulations

Demand-Responsive Transport Lyon Strasbourg

Multi-operator DRT services can makes buses accessible to more people and drive down per-passenger subsidies, but barriers exist.

An article by Beate Kubitz 

Bus economics necessitate difficult questions. Whilst efficient corridor routes have been optimised and finely tuned to ensure profitability, networks which reach into communities at a more granular level, are,
almost by definition, impossible to configure as high capacity, high volume services. On this level, demand responsive transport (DRT) offers an efficient way of creating a bus network.

However, there’s no evidence of lavish subsidies in the offing, so it too comes with its own set of questions: Where can DRT drive up patronage, so that the per passenger subsidy goes down? How can we reduce vehicle numbers to ensure that the fleet is efficient? And how can we combine operators and services available to ensure that all capacity is utilised?

It’s not just a question of subsidy, either. Duplicate vehicles and parallel services are all eating into our limited carbon budget. We need to ensure that services are both financially and emissions efficient. The variables at play here are passenger groups, vehicle numbers and operators. Optimisation ensures they are combined to ensure that people get to their destinations as needed, whilst using the least resources.

However, in the UK, when we look at bus services, what we see are not so much networks as fragmented services run by assorted operators (and sometimes different types of operator) with multiple funding streams – sometimes duplicating each other – and which may also be providing their services under differently regulated frameworks.

Most visibly, the traditional fixed line bus network comprises an assortment of routes, some of which are run by bus operators ‘for profit’ without local authority intervention, some funded by local authorities, some that are blended versions (for instance with the off-peak subsidised whilst peak services are not).
Then, beyond the ‘traditional public transport’ envelope, there are various forms of community transport which exist in a very different space. In some cases, community transport works similarly to commercial bus services but servicing ‘not for profit’ routes that would not otherwise exist, and others which are more like community coach trips – booked in advance for a round trip to an attraction, shop or service – with yet more that are more akin to low-cost taxis with volunteer drivers taking individuals to appointments.

On top of this we have various different social care transport services, school buses and tailored travel for vulnerable children and adults. Then there are services for NHS patients that often cover very similar catchment areas. A further group of services have emerged serving (largely) out of town business parks – not deemed sufficiently attractive by commercial bus operators – in the form of the modern equivalent of the ‘works bus’: an on-demand shuttle or a taxi sharing app.

If we take an honest (and wide-ranging) look across all areas, there are all sorts of duplications even within funded transport. For instance, there are Ring & Ride-type access services being operated in parallel with DRT services because different funding streams procure different resources. This has been a constant frustration for local authorities. Total Transport pilots tried to address some of these duplication issues and optimise vehicle usage, however it proved difficult to execute sophisticated ideas about fleet optimisation or combining use cases.

Over the last three years, the capability of the technology has come a long way, addressing some of the execution issues. For instance, the Padam Mobility platform is able to combine multiple operators into a single service and sophisticated software has the potential to merge different use cases with one service. It also offers a paratransit software element in order to handle social service and health care transport, providing the right vehicle for the trips needed and optimising the overall fleet management.

In one area DRT is combined with home-to-school transport using the same vehicles reducing the cost of the home-to-school from around £10 per head down to £5. Adding in further deployments to increase utilisation could lower this further. However, if we look at other countries with different regulatory systems, we see more radical combinations.

In Strasbourg, Padam Mobility blends door-to-door ‘paratransit’ with bus stop-to-bus stop DRT, using the same fleet. For the Île-de-France Mobilités service which connects people who live on the outer edges of suburbs beyond the Paris metropolitan area Padam Mobility has combined multiple operators onto a single platform. Combining in this way across operators has shown instances where the work of 20 minibuses can now be done by 12, which obviously implies significant savings.

In the UK, however, the technology only takes us so far. Legacy regulation – where each type of services has its own regulatory framework – restricts the potential for combining use cases. These differing frameworks affect many of the aspects of the service: the types of vehicles that can be used, timetables and routes (and how changes must be registered), driver licensing and training requirements, conditions of carriage and the fares that can be charged (and whether they attract VAT).

The final section provides a brief, incomplete overview of these regulations in the UK.

Why is regulation an issue?

The current regulatory framework makes it hard to create simple and pragmatic solutions that enable vehicle use to be maximised and fleets adapted. Once services try to optimise and provide the right size vehicle for the time of day the service could potential segue between regulatory frameworks. A bus service that runs a single decker at peak times, a mini-bus during off-peak and a ‘shared taxi’ to ensure that people working early or late shifts can still get home appears to need more than one type of registration. Adding community services to an on-demand transport platform to help augment off-peak provision would violate the Section 19 registration of a community transport operator (not open to the public) and is a minefield in the case of Section 22 with some operators being challenged over their ‘not for profit’ status in the courts. Some on-demand shared trip services base prices on the number of people riding in order to enable PSV or taxi companies to provide the services and remain profitable – whilst this works in some circumstances it becomes difficult to integrate in the public transport network to augment low density scenarios.

We’ve also found commuter shuttles organised privately for employers often require subsidies from them – whilst also excluding other people travelling along their routes. This is generally because they’re not registered as public bus routes – one factor in that is the time delay that is built into registering with
the traffic commissioner.

Optimise multi-operator services

Whilst it’s increasingly worthwhile to look at how DRT platform technologies can host an efficient cross-contract and multi-user services it’s also important to look at the limitations regulation places on these
combinations. A sophisticated DRT platform can potentially manage a service supplied by community transport or even taxis at some times of day whilst moving to a bus operator on a fixed time table at others.

It seems that regulation needs a rethink to make this a manageable process. The costs of not doing so are both financial and in under-utilised assets which means wasting our ever-diminishing carbon budget.
The opportunity, however, where local authorities, operators, businesses and the third sector all work on networks together, is that together we can drive down per passenger subsidies – whilst still improving services and increasing the number of people who have the option to take the bus.

A short incomplete survey of regulation

Public bus services are registered with the Office of the Traffic Commissioner and must meet certain standards. Following the introduction of the Bus Open Data regulations in 2021, ticket prices for public transport buses must be notified to the secretary of state – in practice this means uploading them through the Department for Transport’s Open Data portal. All public service vehicles (over eight people) need to be fully accessible, regardless of size.

The situation becomes more complex for flexible bus services. Whilst they must register with the Traffic Commissioner they must comply with additional criteria (e.g. “fare information must be clearly displayed”). Flexible services that cover locations more than 15 miles apart (in a straight line) do not qualify for BSOG (Bus Service Operators Grant). There is also a requirement that fares per passenger must be fixed, rather than reducing as more passengers board (in the case that fares reduce if more people share a vehicle that vehicle would be classed as a PHV). Passengers should pre-book but there is no minimum booking time. Passengers who haven’t pre-booked can be carried but the route cannot be altered to accommodate them (because this would then be classed as a taxi service). Whilst bus tickets do not attract VAT, taxi fares do.

Community transport services which are open to the public (Section 22) must register with the Traffic Commissioner. They cannot make a profit unless offering hire services which do not compete with public bus services. In addition, Section 19 Permits can be issued by Local Authorities to organisations operating services for education, religious or community transport purposes for small vehicles such as up to 17 seater minibuses. Larger vehicles must be registered with the Traffic Commissioner. They cannot be open to the public.

Taxi services are registered with local authorities and registration includes agreement on the fares set whilst private hire services are registered with local authorities, which can impose conditions on the type and age of vehicle but has no power to set fares. A maximum of eight passengers can be carried. VAT is payable on fares (although small businesses don’t meet the threshold, private hire apps like Uber do). Whilst bus services have to be fully accessible, a limited number taxi and private hire services are. As an aside, these conditions vary where services are registered in London, in particular there is usually an additional requirement to register with Transport for London.

About the author

Beate Kubitz

Beate Kubitz specialise in analysing new technology, agendas and behaviours and articulating their potential future impact.

www.beatekubitz.com

 

 

 

This article was first published in Passenger Transport. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.

This article might interest you as well: Linking people to places – How on-demand transport joins up the bus network 

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