Demand-responsive transport to ensure accessibility, availability and reliability of rural public transport – RESPONSE is an initiative driven by the public transport sector seeking to develop and coordinate existing publicly funded transport services in the Baltic Sea region.
Most public transport services outside urban areas, including medical transport, remain focused on providing local, analogue and timetable-fixed bus services. RESPONSE addressed the transport challenge of decreasing passenger volumes and a low level of cost-effectiveness of publicly funded organizations.
Public transport is regulated similarly throughout the Baltic Sea Region. The public authorities responsible for organising public transport are usually slim organisations that plan and procure the operation of various transport services. The capacity of these public authorities and higher-level decision-making organs to address central challenges and take advantage of the new trends is largely missing.
RESPONSE was formed to increase the capacity and usage of best practices in the public transport sector to take advantage of crucial societal trends – the open data revolution, digitalisation and demand-orientation.
The key target groups were national-level decision-makers and promoters of public sector coordination as well as regional and local public transport authorities responsible for non-discriminatory transport provision.
RESPONSE explored the untapped potential of demand-responsive transport solutions, a transport offer that has been developed in the Baltic Sea region since the 1990s. Demand-responsive transport offers accessibility, availability and reliability for vulnerable groups in sparsely populated areas. It supports seamless trips, digitalised business models and flexible, need-oriented service design, unlike fixed bus routes.
Simultaneously, it offers coordination of services and user groups and is significantly more cost-effective than special (medical) transport services.
RESPONSE set out to:
- Demonstrate how existing geodata can be made available, visualized and used for evidence-based decision-making in public authorities, including a data warehouse model and a cost prognostication model;
- Pilot how publicly funded transport services can be operated and marketed in coordination and linked to actual needs, for instance after-school activity services and a communication platform;
- Involve the end-users in service product development to meet their expectations and replace functions of their own car in transnationally relevant iterative innovation processes.
The increased capacity of making evidence-based decisions, cost-effectiveness and new demand-driven services will ensure resilient, sustainable public transport systems offering a high level of accessibility, availability and reliability. With improved mobility, the Baltic Sea Region will experience increased attractiveness, in-migration and tourism – and thus growth and welfare.