Shared Mobility Thoughts


The shared mobility blog.

Flexible Public Transportation is Here! by Gady Shlasky, Optibus CEO

Mar 19, 2017

The topic of flexible transportation, specifically public transportation, is receiving increased coverage around the world. The reason for such high coverage is its level of importance – everyone travels!

The main topic of conversation is the increasing traffic jams and congestions, which make governments, transport groups, and municipalities, look for smarter solutions. The quick fixes are more lanes, dedicated bus lanes, and road adjustments, but they are not a long-term solution and cannot accommodate this challenge quickly enough. So, drivers find themselves in the midst of an increasing problem.   

Where is everyone going?

We don’t need to tell you that regardless of where you live, everyone wastes precious time traveling every day. Where? To and from work, business meetings, errands, driving kids to school and back, shopping. You name it. 

And the statistics…

It is already a fact that in some countries families own anywhere between two to three cars – per household.

In 2016 for example, Americans purchased over 18 million new cars, more than ever before. This number is of course added to the existing vehicles in the USA. As for Europe, the situation is not much better – Taking Germany with the highest numbers of passenger/cars per inhabitant in Europe – with 44 million cars. Thereafter, Italy (37 million passenger cars) and France (32 million cars).

The addition of new cars may good news for car manufacturers, but they represent a very problematic trend.

Bottom lineMore cars on the road lead to higher waste.

Waste of time (spent on the roads), lower production, higher pollution, less ‘green’, health risks, car accidents…and the list goes on.  Many are aware of this, but not sure what to do – as they go along with what is available.

Why not public transportation?

If you ask commuters traveling every day – why don’t you use public transportation? Most would say “I’d love to, but the available public transportation is not enough”.  Here are some of the top reasons:

  • First & last miles – lack of available transfer points
  • Delays of vehicles
  • Overcrowding on busses and trains
  • Long waits at each transport
  • Lack of freedom – to travel on demand

What is Flexible public transportation? And, how can it help?

The idea behind flexible transportation is that it’s driven by the commuter demand. According to Wikipedia it’s defined as:  “an advanced, user-oriented form of public transport characterized by flexible routing and scheduling of small/medium vehicles operating in shared-ride mode between pick-up and drop-off locations according to passenger’s needs”.

It basically means that you can order a transport service, from any location, just as you would a taxi – only it would be a shared public transport.

For example: In order to arrive at work by 9am, you use a mobile app that will order a vehicle pick-up at 8am, along with other passengers near-by. The vehicle will drop you at the train station, and another vehicle will take you from the station to the office.   End-to-End solution.

The vehicles sizes will be adjusted to the commuter demand – so, for larger populated metro areas or highly used routes, larger busses will be sent. For smaller urban areas, smaller cars will be sent.

All on-time, on-demand.

The benefits of flexible public transportation – are obvious!

  1. Less private vehicle usage
  2. Less traffic
  3. Less pollution
  4. Less accidents
  5. More productivity
  6. Greener areas
  7. Higher individual – and public waste

Is autonomous driving a pre-requisite?

Are these self-driven vehicles a “must” in order to carry out flexible transportation? The answer is not really, but that’s where we’re naturally going.  There are more autonomous vehicles (cars and busses) developed and adopted by some cities – i.e. Las Vegas launches the first electric autonomous shuttle on U.S. public roads which are becoming part of the transportation ecosystem. But, we don’t necessarily need them to carry out flexible public transportation. If you order a service to get to work, it won’t really matter if it’s autonomous or driven by an actual person – what will matter is its timeliness, comfort level, connectivity, and low cost.

Saying that, the flexible service will be much more productive when autonomous driving is in use, as the frequent changes to route and times might be difficult for human drivers. it’s likely that those who will benefit most from autonomous vehicles are the transportation operators – who can save substantial costs on drivers. Drivers need salaries, good working conditions (breaks and schedule adjustments), and involve unions. They also come with ‘human errors’ – meaning more accident. By eliminating the driver cost, it could enable a substantial decrease in costs and translated to lower public transportation prices.

Making a dream – become a reality

Now, this is all very nice. Affordable, flexible, predictable on-demand, on-time public transportation. But can it be done?

The clear answer is – most definitely yes! But, the challenge is how exactly…

The technology that can make this happen

The technology platform to enable bus operators to offer flexible service, complementary to their current fixed-route service, is not available yet. The technology should allow the bus operator to allocate the proper resources of vehicles and driver (at least until autonomous driving becomes available) in a dynamic environment. Such allocation will have to be changed frequently in real-time, based on passengers’ demands. Optibus has this core technology already implemented today. It’s called the Optibize technology, a super-fast, dynamic schedule optimization technology, which is in use today by the Optibus OnSchedule™ solution for dynamic planning of optimal, cost-effective schedules for bus operators. In the future, the Optibus OnDemand solution will use the Optibize technology for dynamic, real-time adjustment of the schedule, responding to passengers’ demand. The Optibus innovative cloud-based technologies are helping making this dream a reality.

The new Optibus OnDemand solution will lead the Flexible Public Transportation revolution. It will enable the Optibus customers (operators) to offer flexible public transportation, integrated with the fix-routes system, enabling door-to-door public transportation service. 

So, stay tuned as this becomes a reality!

For more information contact Optibus at: www.optibus.co

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