The Mobility on Demand Laboratory Environment (MODLE) project aims to demonstrate and provide not only transport solutions, but how mobility service providers can run profitable services creating opportunities for local authorities and transport operators in providing better service for users.
The laboratory for mobility on demand
But while pop-up mobility services are flourishing in UK cities, providing a useful asset for councils, getting the business models right for a commercial sustainability and profitability can be difficult.
MODLE is developing affordable, direct, spontaneously available, commercially sustainable, door-to-door transport services (delivered in shared vehicles) which compete with the convenience and cost of the car, thereby reducing congestion and improving access to employment and services for those without one.
Specifically, the project supported the introduction the Buzz service, an e-hailing minibus service that aims to improve mobility in an area with poor accessibility and strongly relying on private cars. The catchment area of the service is north of the river Avon and north of the A420 in the east, however, the model extends to Greater Bristol, with comprises Bristol City, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset. Focus is given to new and regeneration areas (Filton, Avonmouth and Severnside), where level of congestion and lack of parking are affecting the quality of life of users.
In order to assess the introduction of Buzz a MATSim simulation was employed. MATSim is a multi-agent micro-simulation model. In MATSim each modelled agent (person, vehicle, etc) contains its individual settings. The sum of all physical agents should reflect the statistically representative demographics of the region.
In the last decade, the shift from using typically aggregated data to more detailed, individual based, complex data (e.g. GPS tracking) and the coupled with increased computer performance, has led to the possibility of using microscope models for large scale planning regions.
In the MODLE project MATSim is addressing the issue of demand-responsive design by introducing dynamic vehicle routing and scheduling to optimise fleet operations, finding the least-cost paths, computing schedules for drivers/vehicles and coordinating cooperation between driver, passengers and dispatchers.
Our MATSim supports very detailed public transport modelling; transit vehicles run along the defined transit line routes, picking up and dropping off passengers at stop locations, while monitoring transit capacities and maximum speeds.
The MODLE project accessed the impacts of the proposed ride-sharing service finding:
- Reduction of congestion.
- Improvement in accessibility to employment and services.
- Increased number of longer journeys made sustainably.
- Improved accuracy of local authority interventions.
- Transferability of the PT Service to other cities.
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