How COVID has opened a new chapter for public transportation
While current circumstances might lead people to seek a safer transport offer by using their private car, they are also noticeably receptive to the use of other modes.
The first of these modes is bespoke services such as transportation on demand. Passengers appreciate their flexibility, and although shuttle buses mean travelling with other people, vehicle capacities can be dynamically adjusted to meet authorities’ regulation on social distancing on-board.
A survey we conducted in April 2020 revealed that 90 per cent of our app users were satisfied with the service as it is convenient, simple to use and flexible.
This finding applies more specifically to two segments of the population. Primarily, the under-30 age group, who seek independence in their mobility and are receptive to the app (e.g. students without a driver’s license or non-car owners). Secondly, in the 30-60 age range, part-time or shift workers, some without their own means of transport, or parents of teenagers with transportation needs. For people without a computer, the app is also an asset.
In Le Havre, the largest port in France3, we helped our client reduced mileage travelled by 30 per cent, while doubling the number of passengers and timetable services. The app helps push passengers towards public transit services by providing them with real-time information about the connecting services available. In the suburban and rural areas of the region (Etretat-Normandy, France), the Web&App solution led to 72 per cent of on-demand rides being booked digitally, compared with 100 per cent previously booked through a call centre.
This period is also conducive to the development of other micromobility services such as bicycles and scooters: the traveller may be a “single occupant”, but uses a non-congesting, non-polluting means of transportation (compared with the private car). We are observing a slight increase in modal shift towards these modes on our MaaS apps for metropolitan regions. Only three weeks after the launch of Moovizy2 in September 2020 for the Greater Saint-Etienne Authority, 800 unique clicks had been recorded on the link “how to rent a bike”.
At the same time, our MaaS apps recorded a high rate of public transit use: 1,600 mobile ticket purchases in three weeks were recorded following the launch of Moovizy2, used as part of intermodal journeys. In the city of Mulhouse’s Mobility Account, 60 per cent of passengers use two, three or four different modes to get around. Car-sharing increased by 50 per cent over the year.
Solving the first- and last-mile problem and activating intermodal travel helps to improve the use of public transportation in places where passengers, for reasons of convenience or lack of knowledge, would otherwise use their private car.
MaaS is no longer a myth – it is a reality. We now know that micromobility solutions – including on-demand transport – are key ingredients in supporting the use of public transit.