Dynaxibility4CE provided overview on demand-responsive transport in Central Europe

Demand-responsive transport (DRT) can complement existing public transport offers in urban-, suburban and peri-urban areas and has a significant potential to utilise autonomous vehicles. Dozens of pilots across Europe and the world are currently testing solutions, of which four were presented in the Dynaxibility4CE-Smacker webinar, which took place from 10-11AM on 10 February 2022. You can find the recording of the entire webinar here.

Demand-responsive transport is a concept that is being used successfully in various suburban and peri-urban areas across Europe. The concept, which is relatively successful in the United States, mostly consists of small buses or minibuses that can be requested through an app or by phone call. Once requested, it will either pick up the user at home or at the requested (virtual) bus stop.

Lidia Signor, Combined Mobility Manager at UITP, emphasised that these solutions are not only found in the sprawled suburbs of North America, but also be a helpful extension of existing public transport offers during off-peak hours. A significant number of pilots are testing the capability of DRT across the globe and UITP expects that DRT will become a part of many PT offers in Europe.

Several pilots were presented during the webinar. Whereas the study of the ‘Schurwald’ in the East of Stuttgart is relatively aspirational, Leipzig already has a functioning system in place. The ‘flexa’ solution successfully operates in two suburbs of the German city. The transport provider of Leipzig currently tests first solutions of autonomous vehicles that might make the human-driven taxis obsolete. A deployment of such solutions into mixed-traffic scenarios would require a legislative adaption of the current legal framework in Germany, as well as a technological leap forward. Local studies show that an autonomous feeder system that transports users from their home to public transport hubs creates the smallest impact on traffic.

Among others, the Smacker project also offers two interesting DRT solutions in the outskirts of Bologna and in the suburbs of Budapest. The latter showcased six DRT lines that are operating in the outskirts of the city. They offer services with minibuses for regular PT fares and can be booked through a newly developed app or desktop interface. The pilot, which saw growing numbers of registered users across 2021, will be the basis for an assessment of deployment in other suburbs of Budapest.

Whereas the Hungarian capital focused on the suburbs, Bologna tackled the demand for leisure trips to the Apennines mountains in the South of the Italian city. The DRT solution, that started in 2018 and was ugraded throughout the Smacker project, offers several routes to popular tourist hotspots for mountaineering, hiking or skiing. The solution offers 24/7 booking and even provides live updates. The successful use led to considerations to increase the PT offer in 2022.