Last modified on November 14, 2023
CCAM in rural areas
Public transportation is increasingly focusing on major routes, and no longer serves small villages (or far outside on main roads), not to mention during the evenings and weekends. This is, of course, related to profitability implications of running empty buses, in addition to staffing shortages, rising costs and changes in travel behaviour following the COVID-19 pandemic.
A truly good connection to (inter)regional public transportation requires a system that is accessible, affordable, reliable, and available for everyone. One of the solutions for rural areas lies in small-scale, demand-responsive transportation. There are currently several pilots in the Dutch Brabant region experimenting with so-called “flexible transportation” (taxi or taxi bus pick-up to the nearest public transport access point), though these are not (yet) self-driving. Other examples of such initiatives in the Netherlands are PlusBus and Automaatje, provided by volunteers and supported by the North Brabant Province (through the website Bravo).
The Brabant pilot Bravoflex makes use of the capacity in the existing paratransit, called Wmo (Social Support Act) transportation, for citizens who cannot arrange their own transportation independently. The empty seats in vehicles that are already crisscrossing the region can be reserved via an app for short distance rides.
At the moment, these vehicles are still operated by drivers. But even if vehicles become more self-driving in the future, the system around it will remain the same and thus we can learn from passengers’ experience now, the different target groups and the barriers they may already be encountering, in order to address now this part of CCAM.
Research in the Horizon Europe project SINFONICA, which is namely investigating eight different “vulnerable” groups in the Province of North Brabant, including the elderly, migrants, and people living in rural areas and smaller communities, can help understand and already reduce the initial barriers to self-driving transportation.
Source: The original article was published here.