Oulu, our northernest success project

Back in 2018, the City of Oulu (Finland) contacted us to register their interest and find out more about what Shotl could do for them. They were interested in providing transit service in two areas just north of the city:

  • The neighborhoods of Kello and Kiviniemi (mainly residential)

And

  • The neighborhood of Haukipudas, (a mix of residential, business, and school use)

Both areas are connected by a 7km road, which is around a 10-minute bus or car journey. Thus, there is a high demand for a transit connection that runs between both neighborhoods.

Both The City of Oulu and Shotl agreed to test the On-Demand Shuttles platform for a period of 8 months. From November 2018 to June 2019 the service could be booked Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. The operation was a success and in total over 4000 people were transported, reaching a peak of 80 trips per day.

The service covered both areas detailed below (A & C), as well as the road that connects both zones (B). With an aim of bringing people as close as possible to their home, and taking into consideration Finland’s winter temperatures, stops were placed at almost every street corner, reaching a total of 87 virtual stops within an area of 9.8 square kilometers.

If we analyze demand by origin and destination, we can see that 92% of the trips made (65+10.6+16.5) are between zones A + C, along the main road (B), with a very small portion of within-area trips. Average bus stop waiting times were around 11 minutes after a request was made and average journey times within the vehicle were around 14 minutes.

Could the same service be achieved with a classic line, just connecting Haukipudas (area A) to Kello-Kiviniemi (area C) along the road main road (B)? The answer is no because any kind of service like this would have had to face the following dilemmas:

  • The bus service would have to stop at only a few main points in Haukipudas and Kello-Kiviniemi, losing capillarity and causing people to walk much more on their last mile.
  • The bus service would have to stop at every available pick-up (or almost), taking up far too much time to reach passengers’ destinations and traveling through a lot of stops with no passengers.

A more in-depth analysis gives us an interesting insight: one stop has been chosen as the origin in 31% of the trips and as a destination on another 24%: more than half of the trips altogether! The stop is right by a school, and not surprisingly, the service has a peak of demand at around 3pm, when students finish their day. At this time, buses had to run at their capacity, bringing 14 people all at once.

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