An Innovative Citizen-led Bus Service in Switzerland

A local on-demand pilot in Herzogenbuchsee, Switzerland that is run by volunteers and operates via a fully electric-fleet, including a rickshaw, is now using Shotl’s platform under the umbrella of the project flow on demand.

With support from the Engagement Migros development fund, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, and the Swiss Federal Office of Transport, the pioneering project flow is testing how an on-demand fleet can help improve connections to the public transport network and make better use of existing means of transportation in Switzerland. Shotl is proud to provide the technology in this project that has started its first operation on Saturday April 27th. 

This first flow on demand operation is run by a local citizen-led initiative in the Swiss towns of Herzogenbuchsee and Niederönz where a flexible transport scheme was successfully inaugurated, which according to the mayor of Herzogenbuchsee, Markus Loosli, lies somewhere “between a taxi and a bus”. The initiative is organized by volunteers as part of the non-profit organization Ebuxi. Its novelty has raised important national media attention, partly because it is the first of its kind that uses a modern booking and dispatching platform.

The initiative is innovative because it explores a solution to two problems: affordable and cost-efficient mobility for mid to small-sized towns and social inclusion for retired citizens. Herzogenbuchsee, like many other rural towns, is facing the challenges posed by rural emigration, given the attraction of major cities. One important aspect in this regard is the availability of reliable, local mobility options as an alternative to private car ownership. Up until recently, possibilities of addressing this issue consisted in either, the hiring of taxi operators, or the subcontracting of public transport agencies from surrounding major cities, both of which resulted in high operational costs and were beyond the budgets of these towns.

Through the innovative spirit of some of its inhabitants, and with help from the Municipality as well as from several other local companies, this issue has now been addressed by a group of currently 56 volunteer drivers, most of which are retired. These volunteers are driven by the desire to improve the attractiveness of their towns. They have set themselves the ambitious goal of providing this service from the time that first inter-regional train leaves the town’s station until the last one arrives, this means that the operation is currently running for 18 hours per day.

Additionally, the fleet of vehicles being used is fully electric, currently consisting of a 7-seat Nissan Evalia model, as well as a 3-seat electric rickshaw, both of which can be booked and are dispatched through Shotl’s platform. Consequently, this is not only the first all-electric operation run by volunteers where Shotl is being used, but it is also the first that includes an active “pedaling” mode of shared-transport.

Shotl is proud to be part of the project flow on demand and to collaborate on this altruistic and innovative grassroots initiative. We look forward to learning more about the potential of flexible on-demand mobility as a means to address the needs of small rural towns within and as a privileged partner of flow on demand.

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