Public Transport of the Future: From A to B Completely Flexible and Frictionless
11 Jul, 2022

A Mobility Scenario

The summer holidays are here. Sandra wants to go to Metropolis to meet up with her friends. Sandra is 16 years old and lives with her parents in Countryville. She reaches for her mobile phone, enters her destination into the mobility app and immediately receives information on the quickest way to travel to Metropolis. A ride is suggested to her that leaves in 10 minutes and starts directly at her home. Sandra confirms her ride.

Ten minutes later, Sandra steps outside the door and sees the on-demand shuttle standing there. She gets in and drives off to a so-called transfer hub. Several shuttles from the surrounding area arrive there. From there she can take a regular bus. Sandra sees that the bus is already leaving for Metropolis in five minutes.

At the transfer hub she meets her neighbour Claudia.

“Hey, Claudia! Where are you coming from?”

“Good to see you, Sandra! I just came back from the city by bus. I had my groceries delivered to this transfer point and I’m about to pick them up. After that, I’ll get my bike from the bike box, pack my groceries on it and ride home.”

The two continue talking until Sandra realises that her bus has already arrived. She says goodbye to Claudia and gets on the bus to Metropolis. As usual, she sits down in the rest area of the bus to read a book comfortably. Once in the city, the bus travels only on bus lanes until it reaches the mobility hub. There Sandra gets off the bus. She could continue her journey with another vehicle, but today that is not necessary. Sandra’s destination is nearby and she walks the last 500 metres.

Digital Mobility Concepts

This future scenario shows how Sandra gets from a rural area to the city and does so really easily and comfortably. She can leave when she wants and arrives reliably and promptly at her destination.

Mobility On Demand

The journey begins with a mobility app. This is the access point for Sandra to book or obtain information about mobility offers. Sandra has an annual subscription to all mobility offers and can use them as often as she likes. This way, she never has to worry about how much the journey costs and where she can get the ticket.

For the first leg of her journey, Sandra uses an on-demand shuttle. This is a vehicle with fixed or customised routes that cover both classic and virtual stops (the ones suggested by the app). Alternatively, one can be picked up at the front door. The comfort of the on-demand shuttle is comparable to that of one’s own car.

Mobility Hubs with a High Quality of Stay

The on-demand shuttle takes Sandra to a so-called transfer point – a kind of mobility hub where several shuttles from the region arrive. The shuttles collect passengers on routes where there is less demand in order to transport them to the transfer point. This transfer point also offers a good quality of stay. Do a small grocery shopping, get a coffee or meet up with people: The waiting time at the mobility hub can be used meaningfully, so that one does not have the feeling of wasting time.

The Bus: Highly Timed and Comfortable

From the transfer point, Sandra continues her journey into the city by bus. High frequency is important. That is something we already know from big cities, where the underground, in particular, runs so regularly that you don’t have to worry at all about when the next one is coming, because you never have to wait more than ten minutes.

Sandra has a guaranteed seat on the bus. So the capacity of the buses is always controlled so that there are enough seats available. The seats not only provide travel comfort, but also contribute to safety. Overall, the bus should offer a high quality of stay. In addition to wifi and entertainment, there are silent zones that passengers can use to read, work or relax during the journey.

Mobility in the City: Low-car and Networked

In the city, the bus travels in a bus lane. The bus has priority at all times and thus gets ahead faster than cars. Sandra gets off again at a mobility hub. There, various means of transport are waiting, such as rental bicycles or rental scooters, that allow you to cover the last mile easily.

However, in our mobility scenario, Sandra ends up walking. This requires cities that are designed for people, not cars. People should enjoy walking in the city.

This is How This Mobility Scenario Comes About

Focus on the Needs of Users

Concepts like this already exist in one form or another. For them to become reality, users and their needs must be placed at the centre of all considerations and actions. Mobility offers are also created based on their needs. So the first step is to systematically ascertain the needs – on the one hand by evaluating the data that is collected in digitalised vehicles every day; on the other hand by directly interviewing existing and potential users. In particular, it is important to win over non-users for public transport in order to be able to achieve the mobility turnaround and reach environmental goals.

Once the need is known, the next step is to consider which mobility service best meets it. Sometimes it is simply a bicycle, sometimes a large bus; sometimes a shuttle, sometimes a rental scooter. It is unnecessary, even impossible, to serve the entire route with one type of vehicle. We don’t need one type of service, we need many types of mobility services. Ideally, these mobility services as a whole are good enough to encourage people who currently prefer to drive, to switch to public transport. And to make the journey more pleasant for those who already rely on public transport.

Focus on Mobility Ecosystem and Vehicle Digitalisation

At the end of the day, how they get from A to B is probably not that important to most people. So it doesn’t really matter whether they take the small shuttle or the big bus, the main point is that they arrive comfortably at their destination and can make good use of their travel time. The focus is particularly on how the mobility ecosystem, which consists of various individual players, should function. So for shuttles, buses, bicycles and scooters to complement each other optimally, they need to exchange data, participate in multimodal mobility platforms and adopt standards to enable data exchange in the first place.

Conclusion

In short, it can be said that many services are needed, everywhere and at all times, so that people really have an alternative to their own car and enjoy using public transport. To achieve this mobility ecosystem, all actors need to work together: Mobility providers, politicians and public transport authorities must work together to ensure that this future of mobility is realised.

 

The mobility concept presented is based on the Fraunhofer IESE study “Mobility Transition 2030” (only available in German).

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