/ Reading: 3 min.

26. Mar.
/ Germany
Call-collecting taxi – A new approach to proven concepts
What began in 1977 in Friedrichshafen is today generally known as on-demand transport: In a large-scale experiment, the people of Friedrichshafen were the first in Europe to look for a solution to adapt the existing public transport system to meet demand - thus heralding the birth of the Rufbus.

But what was visionary and forward-looking in these days is still relevant today. For rural areas in particular, which are increasingly struggling with incomplete or uneconomical public transport services, flexible and need-based solutions can provide a remedy for lack of mobility.

But what’s behind the idea of the on-call bus, the call-collecting taxi and the call-line bus? And above all: what does digitisation have to do with all this?

Well, whereas in Friedrichshafen passengers still had to communicate their needs directly at the bus stop using a specially developed machine, the telephone or a postcard (and thus well in advance), today travel requests can be made easily and even at short notice using an app.

In the past, as well as today, different forms of operation are suitable depending on the area, demand and available resources. The combination of different modes, e.g. of timetable-free and timetable-linked transport systems, can be particularly efficient in showing new solutions and lead to more flexibility.

Smaller vessels such as on-call buses and on-demand shuttles, which serve as feeder services to regular public transport, are particularly suitable in sparsely populated regions. This eliminates inefficiencies such as detours, long journey times and empty runs for passengers and transport operators alike.

In interaction, this can take the following concrete form: Interchanges are still served by scheduled transport, while on-demand solutions as shuttle services facilitate access to these interchanges and, in addition, travel flexibly and freely within and between areas with lower demand.

Our experience, which we have gained not least in the digitisation of a shuttle bus in Wittlich, shows that passengers are quite prepared to pay a fair surcharge for the additional service and the newly gained comfort. When designing such services, however, it should be borne in mind that, although the booking is primarily digital, the target group often has less affinity for smartphones and the Internet connection is not always optimal.

By the way: If you think that in rural areas the acceptance of walking is far higher than in the city, you are mistaken. Here, too, citizens want mobility offers that do not require more than 200 to 300 metres of walking. All the more reason to strengthen the existing public transport system with flexible, cost-efficient and sustainable on-demand services.

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Perspectives from Silke Höhl

Perspectives from Silke Höhl

Silke Höhl is a PhD student at the Research Lab for Urban Transport (ReLUT) at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. The construction and industrial engineer won the «Best Idea 2019» competition at the Allianz Pro Schiene Innovation Award 2019. Her concept: an innovative parcel delivery service. Hereby, the idea is not to create a new transport infrastructure, but to use public transport that is already well developed in the cities. The idea: underground and tramways take care of transporting the parcels to the city centres and a load wheel takes care of the last few kilometres to the front door.

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Perspectives from Silke Höhl

Perspectives from Silke Höhl

Silke Höhl is a PhD student at the Research Lab for Urban Transport (ReLUT) at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. The construction and industrial engineer won the «Best Idea 2019» competition at the Allianz Pro Schiene Innovation Award 2019. Her concept: an innovative parcel delivery service. Hereby, the idea is not to create a new transport infrastructure, but to use public transport that is already well developed in the cities. The idea: underground and tramways take care of transporting the parcels to the city centres and a load wheel takes care of the last few kilometres to the front door.

With digital solutions towards profitable public transport

With digital solutions towards profitable public transport

Mobility is often still a resource-intensive undertaking – in every respect: Too many cars on the road cause a high level of environmental pollution, loosely set timetables mean an immense loss of time and excessively large containers and empty runs – especially in rural areas and at off-peak times – take their financial toll.