These are hard times for public transportation. Ridership has fallen for small operators, villages and big cities alike. The pandemic has put financial pressure on everyone and led to calls for help to maintain transit infrastructure, fleets and a workforce that previously relied on a scenario of constant growth.
Meanwhile, consumers have rapidly adopted now commonplace activities such as online grocery shopping, meetings and leisure activities, as well as on-demand cultural products via online platforms. A new model of society is emerging that’s less based on actual working hours and more on productivity. This is pushing us to work, consume, sleep and ultimately live according to new timetables. It is now acceptable to shop at 3 am, sleep at noon or have lunch at 4 pm, something reflected in our mobility habits as indicated in a new study by the UITP.
In this context, peak times are becoming less relevant and public transport operators will have to relocate resources from those periods to cover new needs. Public transportation will adapt to this new scenario slowly but inevitably and, alongside the development and acceptance of new methods of micromobility and microtransit, this will become a feature of the new mobility environment.
We believe demand-responsive transit (DRT) and on-demand mobility services meet these new needs perfectly, thanks to the increased flexibility and availability they offer. For this reason, we see them as a key step towards making public transport the core of urban, suburban and rural mobility on a permanent basis, which, in turn, will become one of the key technologies to achieve carbon-neutral targets.
At Shotl we welcome this unique opportunity to step up and become a relevant actor in this process. To this end, we are working hard and focusing all our efforts on helping operators, towns and villages offer the best possible DRT-adapted public transport services to their communities.
Shotl and Sensible 4 are adjusting our plans for this spring’s FABULOS autonomous driving pilot — one of the main self-driving events for us this year.
Our winning proposal to provide flexible, on-demand public transport for isolated rural populations will run as a 6-month pilot test with the Association of Rural Initiatives of Catalonia (ARCA).
Quick connected services in low-density areas must be provided by a transport mode that’s adaptable and ready to arrive quickly to every home, whenever it is needed.