Covers environment, transportation, urban and regional planning, economic and social issues with a focus on Finland and Portugal.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fast Transport on Request: new alternative intercity transport

The contemporary city is a multidimensional reality. More than half of the world's people will soon live in highly urbanized centres, in conurbations or in metropolitan areas - continuous networks of urban communities. The massive use of private cars causes serious problems in these urban networks, when industrial areas and vital urban facilities are blocked by traffic congestions and parking problems. Despite this situation, for many the private car remains favourable, but it is obvious that an effective alternative in the form of public transportation is strongly needed.
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In that context a new type of public transportation is sketched, which is focussed on intercity travelling - the travelling between urban centres situated at mutual distances from 10 to 50 Km, covering an area with a length up to 200 Km. This transportation concept (Fast Transport on Request) is based on three key ideas: the success of the private car, the new world of Internet and communication and modern real-time logistics. [1]

Two rapidly evolving areas of advanced transportation and energy technology are hydrogen energy systems and intelligent transportation systems (ITS). Projects involving the use of ITS and hydrogen-powered vehicles include a superbus project where a hydrogen-powered transit bus is also equipped with the latest ITS telematics technology to optimize its operation and potentially to help attract ridership, potentially in conjunction with “hot lanes” for transit vehicles at peak times. [2]

1.Indications for the design of
future public intercity transport [1]

Learning from the success of the private car, the world of IC and the success of modern real-time logistics - the resulting indications for the design of future public intercity transport.

1.1 Private car

Chevrolet Volt/ by LBST

Reliable, unconditional access to fast mobility

• High driving frequencies, or quick service on req

• Stops on short distances from desired departure and arrival po

• For individual traveller, no detours and no intermediate stops

• Travel times all-in shorter than private car, parking included

• Certainty about back travel

Comfort, privacy and control over travel enviro

• Comfortable, automatically adjusting chairs

• Environment for digital information providing and amus

• Direct connections without change over

Suitable for family or group travelling

• Option to book several neighbouring seats in the same vehicle

• Facilities for travelling kids

General Concepts (Automobility)

Automobility and personal autonomy are complementary and arise from, and give expression to the fundamental human quality of self-determination.” (philosopher Lomasky, 1995)

“Waiting in traffic congestions is a waste of time, but also a frustration of freedom
“For many people, car driving gives a feeling of freedom, power and social participation.” (sociologist Sheller, 2004)

Experience of privacy

Hidden conflict between authority and personal au

In this way, automobility is experienced as a continuing reject
ion of governmental policy to discourage car driving and to promote public transportation.

Transport “new style” scores on aspects such as avail
ability, speed, comfort, and social integration.

Changing over must be avoided

1.2 IC world
Superbus/TU Delft

Integrated in communicative life style

• Booking via Internet and intelligent mobile telepho

• Identification and financial settlements via personal sm
art carts

• Compatible with active metropolitan life style

Response on demand

• Anticipating deployment of vehicles, using dynamical s

• Anticipating response on public happenings

Co-ordinated autonomy of actors

• Autonomously operating vehicles, prevents system failures

• Overall co-ordination promoting quality of service and efficiency

General Concepts (Virtual mobility and autonomy)

With the modern mobile telephone people can communicate instantaneously from any place to any place at any time, without meeting each other.

Communicative life style

The rise of Internet has led the world of Cyberspac

“Cyberspace accommodates many forms of service providing, taking advantage of the unlimited access to information and of the possibilities of taking virtual decisions and to settle financial commitments. There is no need to work within an organisation to get access to these facilities.(…)
Markets are agile and enterprises must react fast. New organisations operate with autonomous business units, co-ordinating the work with the help of digital performance contracts.”

Railways still follow the traditional model:
Trains are rigid
Trains cannot leave the rails
Trains cannot pass each other
The following times between trains are at least three minute.
Trains must operate in fixed schedules

Operational control is focused on maintaining the schedules.
Organisational form is hierarchical.

Local perturbations can propagate fast (which may lead to stagnation of the whole system)

Bus transport operates differently:
Each bus functions autonomously and is committed to the running operation plan via a performance contract.
Malfunction of a single bus will not lead to failure of the system

“The current ICT offers special means to implement an intelligent customer interface with a booking system, a virtual ticket market and with an interactive travelling supporting system.”

1.3 Modern logistics
Ford Airstream/ by LBST

Service dynamics: service on four types of stations

• Intercity stations with parking and change over facilities

• Stationary local stop places

• Demand related varying local stop places

Demand intensities and selection of assortment

• Service related to ABC-classification and minimal requirements on service providing

• Balance between differentiation of service and demand intensities


• Combination of collect-sprint-disperse and line-hub-spoke

Production on stock or on demand

• Serve minimal required service level with fixed schedule

• Serve A-segment largely on the basis of demand forecasts

• Serve other demand on request

Logistic control

• Capacity planning, using aggregated demand f

• Real-time operations planning on combined deployment of vehicles and allocation of seats

General Concepts ( The logistical viewpoint)

Virtual ticket market

In logistics ABC-classification, the assortment is subdivided in highly, moderately and rarely demanded products (often the so-called 80/20-rule applies):
A-segment - 80% of the demand concerns only 20% of the assortment.
B-segment - represents 15% of the demand on (say) 30% of the assortment.
C-segment - the remaining part.
Often the C-segment is loss making, but can’t be missed because of complementary with other segments.
In the transportation market:
A-segment - typically consists of trips during rush hours.
B-segment - covers daily trips on popular traj
C-segment - typically lies on nightly trips.

“Production may be induced by keeping stocks. Stocks may cause stock risks, implying that possibly they can’t be sold. For products of the “A-segment”, such risks can be small and therefore acceptable. Since the seventies production on stock is largely replaced by production on demand.”

From the viewpoints of quality of service providing and efficiency, the appropriate form is production on demand.

Using modern ICT, the demand could be entered via Internet or telephone.

Public transport operating with fixed schedules is a form of “production on stock”. These stocks consist of seats in the acting vehicles. Unsold stocks are visible as empty seats.

Dial-a-ride public transport “produces on demand”

“The logistical viewpoint gives indications how to arrange the locations and selection of stops, how to serve strongly varying demands, which transportation concept is to be preferred and how to control the operations.”

Transportation concepts
Line-hub-spoke concept:
Intercity personal transport mainly goes by train, where the stations are passed in line. On each station travellers may use the local transport system to start or to complete their travel.
Busses offer other possibilities. A trip along the in
tercity tracks both may start and end with a local trip, serving a rather small number of popular stopping places.

“The leading idea is to avoid transfer between local transport and intercity transport, and with this shorten travel times. Line-hub-spoke and collect-sprint-disperse might be combined in the sense that a part of the travellers may avoid local related transfers indeed, whereas others use separate local transport.”

2.Characteristics of Fast Transport on Request (FTR) [1]
Van Hool Prototype Bus/ ISEcorp

“Characteristic is the application of advanced technology in vehicles, traffic control and communication. Remarkable is the rigorous integration of the words of public transport, cyberspace and system intelligence, aimed to offer a quality which can compete with the use of the private car.”

For the transport between the cities, there are dedicated and protected tracks (sprint tracks) for fast driving cars, which are connected with (dedicated) local road networks.

General Concepts

Busses can be constructed safely driving 180 km/h (with proven technology)

Sprint tracks are reserved for qualified vehicles.

Driving at normal speeds, such vehicles also can be used on public roads.

To be allowed to drive on a sprint track, a car must be equipped with:
- a system for lateral stabilisation
- a system to follow a virtual roadmap
- an intelligent cruise controller (however the driver will stay fully responsible)

Trips have to be booked via Internet or telephone, which can be done “on-timing”, “on last-minute”, or as “option”. The booking system is connected with a virtual ticket market. One may book bundles of trips and “connected tickets”.

“Travelling can be shortened by reducing the number of intermediate stops and by avoiding making detours. To issue such special trips, the planning system needs information on the demand. This information can be deduced from real-time forecasts, but above all from requests to be served, entering via Internet and telephone. Clearly a booking system is a natural apparatus to improve the service level and therefore has to be the core of and intelligent customer interface.”

An operations control system clusters the travel requests, deploys the vehicles and allocates the seats, such that travellers never will make a detour and such that intermediate stops are avoided.

The vehicles are equipped with digital facilities and comfortable seats, which adapt themselves automatically to the profile of the traveller.

General Concepts

Each seat is equipped with digital facilities for communication, radio and television.

3.Combination of BRT and DR systems [1]

It is natural to combine the systems of BRT and DR and add a few elements related to the structuring of the routes, the intercity travelling speed, the availability via an intelligent customer interface and the personalised service.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
Public transport with busses, driving on dedicated lanes, with separate halting lanes and with right of way on crossings
Demand Responsive Transport (DRT)
Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) mainly concerns transport with minibuses to serve scattered demands in rural environments. The routes and the deployment of vehicles are planned in response on requests entered by telephone.

“For a new concept such as FTR extensive R&D is needed to elaborate and to verify the technology, the logistic control system, the safety aspects and the societal acceptance. People are not used to book their daily travelling, but the unique buying reasons are that travelling with FTR is cheap, fast and “tailor made”.”

[1] Joseph J.M. Evers , Discussion note by Prof. Joop Evers: Profile of new intercity transport, Transport Policy and Logistics Organization / Technology, Policy and Management / Delft University of Technology; EJTIR- European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure, Volume 7, Issue 3 (September, 2007), pp. 257-266