Demand-Responsive Transport: Why aren’t they all equal? Reservation time limit and itinerary calculation

Demand-Responsive Transport parameters

Reservation time limit and itinerary calculation methods are important parameters for choosing a Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) solution.

Reservation the day before or last minute

There are three main categories:

  1. DRT services requiring a reservation the day before. This time slot is often sufficient for people who use the service for commuting. However, it does not fit to other needs (shopping, leisure, etc.).
  2. DRT services with a 2 hours reservation time limit. Allowed by technical improvements but also and above all by compromises on other points. This delay is ultimately quite little different from the previous case in its advantages and drawbacks.
  3. DRT with real time reservation. Like Uber and Lyft, users can book their trip as late as they want. The DRT vehicle will pick them up as soon as possible. Real time reservations is a real plus. In Orléans, when real-time reservations were put in place, more than 30% of reservations were made last minute, resulting in a significant increase in traffic. In addition, some use cases are only possible if real time reservation is possible. For example, an airport DRT service. Indeed, with the plane delays and baggage claim time, users are never sure when they can be picked up.
Different methods of itinerary calculation

Some Demand-Responsive Transport operate following the “virtual line” service design. They operate like a conventional bus line, except that they only stop at requested stops. Simple to set up, the interest is also very limited. In fact, there is little optimization in terms of time or mileage since the itinerary remains unchanged. Also, they will not be able to cover a larger area than a conventional fixed line.

On the other hand, there are DRT solutions which make it possible to vary the itineraries according to user requests. They follow a “zonal” service design. In this case, operating optimizations are important.

Zonal Demand-Responsive Transport
  • Some “zonal” DRTs require human intervention. The transit operator receives indications allowing him to make an informed choice when he assigns a person to a bus. The trajectory is therefore made up by the human using the machine or by the machine using the human.
  • Other “zonal” DRT solutions build the itineraries using an algorithm once all the reservations have been filled in. This therefore requires stopping reservations before the start of the service (one night or half a day).
  • Finally, some solutions, based on artificial intelligence, are capable of creating itineraries as reservations are made. This allows in particular the real-time reservation like Padam Mobility solutions.

Under the name “Demand-Responsive Transport” there is therefore, on the one hand, a service which follows a predetermined line and, on the other hand, a service which is capable of optimizing itineraries in real time according to user requests. Not all solutions fit to all uses cases, and choosing the right tool is a crucial step for the success of a Demand-Responsive Transport service.


Read more about Padam Mobility Demand-Responsive Transport solutions

Read more about other parameters to keep in mind when choosing a Demand-Responsive Transport solution



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Interview with Thierry Occelli, Sophia Antipolis Urban Community

Demand-Responsive Transport: Thierry Occelli

Interview of Thierry Occelli , VP of the Sophia Antipolis Community (CASA) about the implementation of the Icilà Demand-Responsive Transport.

How is the Sophia Antipolis Urban Community (CASA) specifically adapted to the challenges of shared mobility?

CASA is constantly facing new demands and needs, due to the development of the Sophia Antipolis technopolis. CASA is improving its mobility services and is constantly thinking about how to optimize its solutions, mainly in the area of DRT: to expand the resources allocated to the offer, to span new territories, improve booking processes and its reliability, ensure good customer feedback….

Does CASA already have a DRT solution? For which use cases?

Yes. There is already some very successful DRT solutions in 10 areas under the IciLà brand.

  • For school children, the DRT allows trips beyond the traditional hours of school (8am, 5pm). 128,000 journeys have been recorded since it was commissioned a year ago. These trips are carried out on the 24 districts of the agglomeration.
  • For mobility impaired people, we provide a more individualized offer because it allows sidewalk to sidewalk trips.
  • CASA is often asked to deploy this service in the evening, especially during major one-off events (shows, theatres, etc.).
Why did you choose to launch a new service with Padam Mobility?

The main problem faced by the Sophia Antipolis Urban Community regarding to its DRT is the booking. Our call center is often saturated at the beginning of the week, despite the recent introduction of an online pre-booking plant.

Since the main users of CASA’s DRT are high school teenagers, Padam Mobility will make the bookings easier to those who are more comfortable with smartphones.

The agglomeration tend to digitize and dematerialize all the process, especially the transport tickets. We also rely on Padam Mobility to achieve this goal. Finally, the DRT was certified ISO9001 in March 2019 and meets CASA’s ongoing improvement objectives.

What are the locals expectations of DRT?

To be able to book by themselves, online, and easely.

What about your expectations?

The Sophia Antipolis Urban Community expects a lot from this experimentation with Padam Mobility, involving 12 vehicles on 2 areas. Despite the particularity of our offer (zoning, single operator from the first of July), we desire to collect as much quantitative informations as possible (statistics, survey informations, datas, kms travelled, grouping rate, number of people transported, etc.) and qualitative feedbacks (trips evaluations, etc.) because we don’t have them for the moment.

The point is to gain enough detailed datas for the implementation and KPI’s that evaluate if the DRT solutions are improvable.

Padam Mobility provides extremely detailed statistical reports and will be able to meet these expectations. The introduction of a banner in the application, pointing to a satisfaction survey, allows to have very qualitative feedback.

We advocate the responsiveness of our solutions. Like CASA’s dynamic carpooling approach, we want dynamic DRT.

What other innovations are you preparing for shared mobility?

CASA is constantly considering new mobility solutions and has recently embarked on an experimentation of autonomous vehicles on public roads. An experiment on a dedicated track has already taken place in 2016, and now we would like to experiment it in general traffic conditions and on a specific area of Sophia Antipolis (last mile management and intermodality with the future Bustram line).

Padam Mobility works with autonomous vehicle players to offer on demand autonomous vehicles.

Regarding soft mobility, CASA has launched its own bike plan with electric bicycles, opened bike paths with the possibility to use forest tracks, enhanced home-to-work trips, improved traffic black spots, created a bike house in Sophia Antipolis with 10 and soon 20 bikes available, free of charge to users, to promote electric bicycles… Finally, the Sophia Antipolis cycling community was created and already has 500 members.

Thierry Occelli, vice president of the Sophia Antipolis Urban Community.


About Icilà, the Demand-Responsive Transport service of Sophia Antipolis

Launched in July 2019 with Envibus, icilà is a DRT service which meets a great success. With +6600 trips per month for around 37000, the service answers mobility needs in low-density areas of the Sophia Antipolis urban community and at the same time contributes to its digital transformation.

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