Oulu is the most populated northern city in Finland and the fifth largest in the country. It is located on the west coast and is home to many of the country’s high-tech research facilities and growth companies. It is also well known for its efficient public transport system.
On November 19th, Oulu Joukkoliikenne - the Public Transport Authority (PTA) - will start a pilot demand responsive service in collaboration with Shotl. The goal is to connect the main city with the town of Haukipudas (20.000 inhabitants). The area of operation will span 8km2 which will be covered by 2 minibusses with 14 and 16 seat capacities respectively. The service will run from Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Though Haukipudas is a fair distance from Oulu, it is still within the city’s catchment area and has a well-established bus service which runs along the main artery. Edwin 't Lam, the Head of the Public Transport Authority for the City of Oulu says, "This new mode of transport works in two ways; it accommodates trips within the area of Haukipudas whilst serving as a new link between the well-developed bus corridor and the neighborhoods of Haukipudas at a distance. The latter logic forms the trip-chain concept."
This deployment will not replace the current bus line so it has not been possible to simulate or measure the ideal coverage area needed for both vehicles to provide an acceptable level of service (waiting and traveling time). This will be determined both by the response from residents and by the performance of the service, consequently, the area of operation will then be gradually expanded.
Edwin 't Lam adds, "Oulun Joukkoliikenne’s objective is first of all to gather information on demand responsive transportation. Secondly, the PTA wishes to gain insight on the travel potential within the pilot area through understanding user experience. The ultimate goal is to improve public transportation in the PTA’s area and by doing so offer citizens a better alternative to privately owned vehicles. Haukipudas may be a test-ground for a transportation mode that could be utilized in areas comparable to it.”
The aim of this pilot is to encourage people to switch from private vehicles to public transport. In order to discourage the use of private vehicles it is necessary to offer a higher level of public transport, however in orbital traffic traditional public transport has not been at its best, because the origin and destination points of journeys tend to be scattered over a large area and it is therefore difficult, and inefficient, to provide a good level of service with traditional fixed routes and schedules.
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