UITP-led project has brought together public transport and ride-sharing to improve seamless multi-modal travel across Europe
When talking about fighting private car ownership, integrated and multi-modal travel – or Mobility as a Service (MaaS) – can’t be missing from the discussion. The integration of different transport services into one single mobility offer in which public transport is at the epicentre, has long been considered a main solution for changing customer behaviour towards more sustainable options.
From this premise, RIDE2RAIL launched in 2019: a project under the helm of UITP (the International Association of Public Transport) and funded by the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking. RIDE2RAIL’s main goal was to tackle the question of how to best combine shared modes – especially ride-sharing – with public transport to reduce private car ownership and make efficient use of vehicles’ capacity.
Over the last three and a half years, RIDE2RAIL sought to create solutions enabling passengers to easier combine the train, tram or bus, with ride sharing. On April 27, 2023, the project held its Final Event in Brussels, welcoming UITP, Europe’s Rail, Thales, EURECAT, University of Newcastle, Fit Consulting and many others.
Ride-sharing as a solution to rural mobility challenges
Ride-sharing, if properly implemented, has the potential to reduce the number of cars on the road. Especially in rural areas, where commuting distances are higher and public transport cannot always operate efficiently, ride-sharing can be seen as a solution to fight private car ownership and reduce single-car occupancy rates.
Gathering 17 partners from 10 countries, RIDE2RAIL created solutions and tools that enable people to compare and choose between multiple transport options and services based on travel time, comfort, cost and environmental impact.
While mass public transport is the backbone of mobility systems in our cities, combined mobility is an unmissable tool in providing the flexibility people are looking for in public transport
“While mass public transport is the backbone of mobility systems in our cities, combined mobility is an unmissable tool in providing the flexibility people are looking for in public transport,” says UITP project co-ordinator Giuseppe Rizzi. “The RIDE2RAIL project capitalised on this complementarity between the different modes of transport and provided an even more accessible and flexible mobility from door to door.”
TravelCompanion and DriverCompanion applications
RIDE2RAIL contributed to make ride-sharing a complementary transport mode that extends public transport and in particular rail, becoming a feeder for public transport especially in rural and low demand areas.
One of the objectives of RIDE2RAIL was to further enhance the Travel Companion, a travel application developed by the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking under its IP4 programme, a framework which wants to create an ecosystem that allows seamless, multi-modal travel across Europe. Alongside RIDE2RAIL, various other projects are involved in IP4. The IP4MaaS project, which ran almost simultaneously to RIDE2RAIL and is also coordinated by UITP, is currently analysing and testing the available IP4 technologies and solutions.
For the Travel Companion, RIDE2RAIL developed the following tools, integrated in the above mentioned ecosystem:
Offer Categoriser: this module ‘scores’ the proposed travels/journeys on different categories such as speed, reliability, pricing, making it easier for passengers to make a choice.
Offer Matcher & Ranker + Incentive Provider: through a machine learning mechanism, this functionality learns the passengers’ travel preferences (in terms of number of changes, overall travel time, etc.) and ranks trips accordingly when searching for a travel solution on the Travel Companion.
Crowd-based Travel Service Provider: a system that publishes available shared rides, and that allows a driver to make visible on the Travel Companion the available seats in his/her car.
Driver Companion: an application enabling car drivers to share their rides with other passengers. This application is linked to the above mentioned CB TSP.
Agreement Ledger: a tool that supports the secure storing of travel-related records using blockchain ensuring transparency and trust of operations.
RIDE2RAIL solutions were tested in four cities in Europe: Padua, Brno, Athens, and Helsinki: soon a complete UITP Project Brief will be launched, highlighting results from all demo sites.
Gorazd Marinic, programme manager at Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking comments: “Since 2015, Shift2Rail, now Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking, has been co-funding research and innovation activities that aim at improving, with the use of Information Technology, the services that are provided to passengers in door-to-door, intermodal journeys. With its piloting activities across the EU, Ride2Rail is providing valuable insights on the real-life use and market potential of the solutions developed within Innovation Programme 4 of Shift2Rail.”
Explore IP4 solutions at the UITP Summit
Curious to explore IP4 solutions used in RIDE2RAIL for yourself? From June 4 to 7, Europe’s Rail will showcase the Travel Companion app on its booth at the UITP Global Public Transport Summit in Barcelona.
Furthermore, on June 6, the IP4MaaS project organises its Final Event where it will dive deeper into the topic of multimodal services integration.
This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.
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