On-Demand Shuttles and the Future of Cities

The ever growing trend towards services such as ride-hailing, bike-sharing or car-sharing in major cities is prompting significant challenges for todays urban planners, transport analysts and policymakers. As most of the data collected by these newly emerging corporations is classified and remains out of reach to public servants, we have very limited information about how new mobility services may be affecting peoples’ decisions and their travel patterns.

Due to the long-term policy and planning resolutions that are necessary to support transportation infrastructure, accurate data collection of user preferences is critical. This information helps us to predict future impacts and pinpoint the evolving trends which are prompting and influencing the transformation of our cities.

At Shotl, we create and provide technology that empowers transportation operators, allowing them  to deliver efficient on-demand mobility. By sharing accurate data with city planners and policymakers we can help them to rethink their cities and design better spaces for everyone to live in.

The main objective of this article is to give a professional before and after analysis of the expected impact that On-demand Shuttle services would have on current urban structures within modern western cities.

How Can On-Demand Shuttle Services Shape the Cities of the Future?

We want every city to adapt Shotl On-demand Shuttle services to its own needs, bringing positive changes to the current urban structure.

From reducing congestion to providing greater accessibility; On-demand Shuttles will have a significant influence on the way people choose to travel which will facilitate further changes within our neighbourhoods and cities. We have grouped them as follows:

- Release of road space: every trip shifted from a private car to an On-demand Shuttle eliminates the need for a parking space which can be used for other purposes (green areas, commerce, children’s playgrounds, etc.). Moreover, pooling users allows for a reduction in the amount of vehicles on the road. According to research from the ITF Forum substituting all car trips for On-demand Shuttles would lead to the removal of 90% of parking space and 33% of road lanes.

- Promotion of other sustainable modes: On-demand Shuttles will bring a new alternative to car-free travel where deployed, allowing citizens to reduce their dependency on private vehicles, thus making them more likely to cycle, use public transport or take advantage of other mobility schemes such as car-sharing or  bike-sharing services. For existing public transit companies, it is essential that they provide On-demand Shuttle services in a way that facilitates quick, well-coordinated and easy interchange access between bus, tram and train journeys.

What Would the Urban Structure of Modern Western Cities with Fully Implemented On-Demand Shuttle Services look like?

So, with great ambitions for the future, we created various “what if” scenarios in order to answer the question, “What would happen to a city that fully implements Shotl services?” We conducted two different case studies and came up with the following results:

1) Rotterdam: Neighbourhood of Schieweg



Schieweg street, 500m north of Rotterdam’s main station, already has several options when it comes to sustainable travel, such as a tramline in the centre, a cycling lane on each side and a 2 meter-wide sidewalk. However, 45% of road surface is still given over to private car travel  .

Shifting reliance on car usage over to On-demand Shuttles would make it possible to free up a whole lane, which is currently allocated for parking space. Daring to be optimistic, the reduction in the amount of vehicles on the road could allow for one of the two running lanes to then be removed. In this case, the release of road space might allow Urban Planners to address a lack in needed neighbourhood assets such as accessible green space and parks.

On the other hand, a small part of the lane removed would be used as a dedicated On-demand pick up and drop off spot, allowing Shotl users to access the service like a regular bus stop. With its positioning in front of the tram stop it would allow for greater connectivity between both modes of transport. 

2) Sant Cugat: Metropolitan Area of Barcelona



Sant Cugat, where Shotl is based, is a city with 90.000 inhabitants and lies only 10km away from Barcelona. Coll favà, the mid-density neighborhood chosen for this article, is located near two suburban rail lines and has plenty of green and walking space but still dedicates half of its road space to car and motorcycle parking, which are full most of the time.

We imagine a much more flexible and tactic transformation of urban structure here. Motorcycle parking zones could be repainted and converted to Shotl stops* allowing for additional street banks to be added which would be beneficial for both travellers (waiting for their on-demand vehicle) and leisure walkers. A whole car parking lane could also be repainted as a segregated cycle lane.

* See signage positioned behind the vehicle - above image right

Unlike the Rotterdam case, we foresee an on-demand network that is also integrated with the current local bus service, whose vehicles and drivers would be used. The service would also remain distinguishable through both brand and colour.

Our goal at Shotl On-demand Shuttles is to improve existing public transport systems by reducing private car ownership and providing easier access to bus, subway and train services. Through a moving network of minibuses we offer a flexible transport solution based on a collective ridership system. 

If you want to view a demo or are interested in learning how Shotl can work for your city, call us on +34 937 370 447 or send an email to hello@shotl.com.

All illustrations are made by Sietse Touker, one of our collaborators.

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