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January 29, 2024

How DRT can work in urban areas

We explore a range of urban demand-responsive transport case studies, highlighting what urban DRT projects look like in practice & the benefits they can bring.

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Demand responsive transport is being adopted across the globe, with a flurry of new DRT projects transforming how people move across regions, cities and counties across the world. There are plenty of successful rural DRT case studies, where less connected communities are able to access better transport networks, but there seem to be less examples of what urban DRT projects look like in practice and how they can benefit built-up areas. Here we explore a range of urban demand-responsive transport case studies in further detail:

TeuBus, Brazil

Intercity transport on demand

Transbus wanted to replace an underperforming fixed route service with a new demand-responsive service to compete with private ride-hailing services in the area. Liftango developed TeuBus, a white-labelled transport platform and app, to provide the citizens of Cachoeirinha with a more convenient way to travel. The solution provides an on-demand transportation service (DRT) throughout the day, with a fixed price per passenger throughout the Cachoeirinha metropolitan region, with HUBs at points with the highest concentration of people in the city.

TeuBus’ on-demand service runs in conjunction with the existing fixed-route operation that spans 32 buses across the city, and is a direct solution to compete with private ride-hailing services in the area. TeuBus has been launched as a door-to-door service around the city, charging the same fare as the regular service but offering increased flexibility and comfort for passengers. The TeuBus service currently has: 

- 6 vehicles each with 24 standard seats and 1 wheelchair seat 

- All-day availability on working days (from 05:40 to 20:20)

- Service for the entire Cachoeirinha metropolitan region

- Fixed price of R$ 6.25 per passenger

The service launch has been a huge success with 8,000 users reached within a matter of weeks. On average 220 journeys are completed per day with an average of 228 passengers with the 6 vehicles travelling an average of 868 km per day between them.

Read more here

AT Local, New Zealand

Connecting suburban commuters during peak hours

A DRT replacement service for the largest transport agency in New Zealand, providing transport access for an additional 6,400 residents in Papakura. The demand-responsive public transport service is a fully-electric vehicle (EV) service, providing convenient and affordable transport for an additional 6,400 residents in Papakura. AT Local is an integrated service that allows passengers to access the service using an existing AT HOP card with access to the entire Auckland Transport network.

  • Over 20,000 trips completed
  • Over 3,000 trips completed in a month
  • 2,500 passengers signed up
  • 100 T CO2 removed
  • 38% increased service coverage
  • 43% car trips removed

Papakura Local Board is a fast-growing area and is outpacing the average employment growth of New Zealand. Auckland Transport identified the need to decarbonise transport as a regional priority. The challenge was to create a climate-conscious and competitive travel option for commuters that improves access to services and employment opportunities whilst increasing ridership across the Auckland Transport network.

Liftango and Auckland Transport's AT Local service—a fully electric on-demand transport service—reduce carbon emissions produced by Auckland Transport by replacing a fixed route operated with diesel buses with a demand-responsive electric vehicle (EV) service.

The solution required integration with Auckland Transport’s Identity Management System and Payment Gateway to allow passengers to seamlessly transition from rail or fixed-route modes to the demand-responsive public transport service using only their HOP card. A flexible break structure was implemented in order to manage and optimise EV fleet charging protocols.

AT Local has increased ridership on the Auckland Transport network, increasing monthly trips compared with the removed route and now produces twice as many rides as the removed route and in June 2022, more than 3,000 passenger trips were recorded. The removal of route 371 reduced 100,000 kg of tailpipe emissions per year to zero. Public transport coverage extends to an additional 6,400 residents (38% increase).

Without AT Local, 43% of passengers would choose to drive their car to complete their journeys. Therefore, the availability of the service resulted in a significant mode shift towards sustainable public transport.

Read more here

Ring & Ride, UK

Making urban areas accessible for all

Full-scale, demand-responsive transport for the West Midlands community. The Ring & Ride service, operated by The National Express Accessible Transport (NEAT) for Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), services community members who face challenges in using standard modes of transport.

This digital demand-responsive transport service is a vital lifeline that provides a readily available, low-cost transportation solution to the targeted members of the West Midlands community. With routing and scheduling expertise packaged in a DRT operations platform, followed by the launch of a passenger app specifically tailored towards community transport and dial-a-ride passengers’ needs, both passengers and drivers can easily liaise on transport routes and times - a vast improvement on a previously manual system.

  • Dial-a-ride digitalisation
  • Driver and Passenger App
  • Largest DRT service in the U.K.
  • Over 38,000 passenger trips completed
  • 10,000 passenger trips completed per month on average

TfWM’s previous manual system did not align with their long-term strategic objectives of providing safe, reliable, affordable and accessible transportation services in the region. They knew that there were efficiencies to be made, now and in the long-term, that could benefit everybody from operational staff to drivers and, above all, passengers. They also wanted to look at opening up public transport services to lesser-served areas, but for this to be a possibility they needed a purpose-built digital platform and service provider.

Liftango collaborated with The National Express Accessible Transport (NEAT) and Transport for West Midlands to transform the service into a digital DRT operations platform for effective transport coordination for the West Midlands community.

Liftango’s wealth of expertise in modern-day transport tech built a solid foundation for streamlining and future-proofing the existing Ring & Ride service. From improving routing, scheduling and operational data visibility to exploring options for a custom passenger and driver app, Liftango have considered every passenger touchpoint. Additional custom features were also built into the platform to facilitate seamless community transport and allow easy use by the targeted community members. TfWM have benefited from passenger journey features such as Liftango’s automated trip and pick up reminders that passengers receive by SMS.

To help the Ring & Ride project further, Liftango will be releasing a custom passenger and driver app with TfWM featuring a user-centred design, for easier access to the service and effortless tracking of real-time journey information.

Patronage of the Ring & Ride service maintained a steady incline since implementation of the platform. By December 2022, service coverage was expanded to include 80+ vehicles over seven zones, growing monthly trip figures to over 10,000 trips per month.

With improved route optimisation, community members can now accurately select pick-up and drop-off destinations for faster, more convenient travel. This service upgrade went a long way in upholding transport equity and mobility justice in the community. Without it, vulnerable members of the community would have had inadequate means of transit in the West Midlands area.

Read more here

Nelson City Council, New Zealand

Integrating fixed route with on demand services

In August 2023, Nelson City Council and Liftango launched a new on-demand and fixed route transport solution in New Zealand. The new demand responsive service, eBus OnDemand, replaced a previous fixed route to optimise vehicle and route usage as part of a more sustainable, efficient transport model. 

Starting with a single vehicle and with exciting future growth plans, Nelson City Council chose Liftango for the platform’s flexibility, scalability and ease of implementation. The on-demand public transport service launched as a key part of Nelson City Council’s transport strategy alongside the city-wide eBus network. 

Using the Liftango platform means that both fixed route and on-demand services are maximised. It allows Nelson City Council to provide frequency of services connecting different regions while maintaining equity of access to public transport in the Stoke region by offering on-demand transport for local travel purposes. To prevent cannibalisation of the region’s existing routes, the platform incorporates both fixed route and on-demand options, providing convenient transport solutions that work for both passenger and operator. 

eBus OnDemand covers a wider area than the previous fixed route, but the flexibility of on-demand public transport bookings and routing reduces the amount of time passengers need to wait for a vehicle and minimise the amount of unnecessary driving for the bus. 

Read more here 

If you’d like to discuss an urban DRT project in more detail, please contact our expert team of mobility strategists here.

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