Life in Vallirana, a commuter town near Barcelona, posed distinctive challenges due to the limited and infrequent public transportation options. The scattered population often found themselves underserved and isolated, making simple tasks like a round trip to essential services in the town centre cumbersome and time-consuming. Consequently, residents were largely dependent on personal vehicles or assistance from others for transportation.
Despite efforts by the local bus operator to adapt services and expand coverage after funding cuts, the situation remained challenging. They had the challenging task of accommodating passengers in light of uneven coverage and extended wait times. This situation contributed to a cycle of decreasing demand, revenue, and supply, with no clear signs of improvement. It became clear that there was a need for improvements to transport planning to better address the distinctive challenges encountered in Vallirana.
In response to this predicament, Shotl was brought in to revolutionise suburban mobility in Vallirana without incurring additional costs. The solution involved a significant shift away from conventional transport planning towards an active demand-led approach, fostering greater transparency and efficiency in the transportation system. Shotl implemented a hybrid system comprising fixed-route-and-schedule services during peak times, with flexible on-demand services covering needs for the rest of the day.
The new system included the introduction of a Passenger App, enabling users to book rides, receive real-time updates on pick-up and drop-off, and experience a personalized, flexible service tailored to their needs. Algorithms continuously optimized passenger bookings and vehicle routes, ensuring the best possible service for all users.
For drivers, implementing the Driver App facilitated real-time alerts for new bookings, directing them to dynamic pick-up and drop-off points. The app also allowed control over onboard capacity. Additionally, a Dashboard provided transport operators with the tools to set service parameters, monitor operations in real time, and obtain detailed data and analytics on user behaviour, eliminating guesswork in decision-making.
The introduction of the on-demand service proved highly successful. User numbers rapidly grew within six weeks, with the majority of bookings made through the app. The increase in passenger numbers led to higher operational costs, but the rising revenue covered these expenses, resulting in an overall reduction in public spending. Furthermore, the service's provision of first-mile and last-mile connections to Vallirana-Barcelona transit encouraged more commuters to leave their cars at home.
Analysis of user data also unveiled a positive impact on residents' health, as many were observed walking downhill into town and utilizing public transport for the return journey, promoting healthier exercise habits. The holistic approach implemented by Shotl not only addressed the transportation challenges in Vallirana but also demonstrated the potential for innovative solutions to reshape suburban mobility and enhance the overall quality of life for residents.
Smart mobility trends are pushing towns and cities to explore new mobility options for citizens while still struggling to fund public transport models inherited from the 20th century.
By choosing on-demand transport, we can help reduce the number of cars on our roads and cities. And, at the same time, achieve much more peaceful, quiet, and livable neighborhoods where reckless and rage driving will have no place.