|Also see from the US: Public Transportation’s Impact on Rural and Small Towns: A Vital Mobility Link
And from Laura Bliss at City Lab, 10 Oct 2017:
That’s a problem. Rural communities increasingly reflect a group of people who don’t drive—they’re older, less mobile, and poorer. That’s the gist of a new report by the American Public Transportation Association. While transit systems in large urban centers rightly draw most attention from advocates, ignoring the growing demand for service in far-flung towns risks shutting out some of the neediest would-be riders.
Ridership in rural areas, the report finds, has grown since 2007, which was the year the Bureau of Transportation Statistics began collecting data. Between that year and 2015, total rural ridership increased by 7.8 percent, compared to 2.3 percent in urban areas. In both categories, ridership has fallen off in 2015 and 2016, likely due to the recent drop in gas prices. But according to APTA, small-town passenger bases might be a little more resilient to those in big cities—as workers and families have left rural America in search of opportunity, per capita ridership rates have kept growing.
Small towns also have a higher proportion of former service members: Roughly 30 percent of enrollees in the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Administration system live in rural areas, and 44 percent of these veterans have at least one service connected health condition—conditions that can hinder their ability to drive. As a group, individuals with disabilities take about 50 percent more trips on transit that those without.
And although car ownership rates are higher in rural parts of the U.S. than urban, so are poverty rates. Lower median incomes increase the cost of driving as a share of personal income: Rural households spend about seven percent points more of their budgets on transportation than those in cities.
The recent story of transit ridership is all about how you slice and dice the data. Thanks to demographic forces, rural areas are gaining a base of captive riders, for better or for worse. But rural transit use hasn’t really been bucking national trends. Across the U.S., transit ridership has grown overall since before the Great Recession, but over the past two years, a drop in gas prices has knocked that trend line south in both rural and urban areas. Over the long run, establishing lasting ridership gains that aren’t tied to fuel costs depends on quality of service. That’s true for small towns and big cities alike.
Presentations and workshop
Demand Oriented Mobility Solutions for Rural Areas
Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
Conventional public transport is facing major difficulties in rural areas of Germany due to current societal and demographical changes. A decreasing population endangers the already bristle financial situation of public transport.
This study will conclude in September of 2017.
MaaS in rural areas
1VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., Finland; 2Lappeenranta university of technology
The purpose of this paper is to present special characteristics of rural areas on MaaS development based on a project co-funded by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland. The paper presents rural mobility SWOT and challenges, as well as goals and vision. Also solutions for MaaS services regarding collaboration, services & markets, planning & decision-making and technology & information will be proposed. In addition next steps in rural MaaS development will be presented.
The results are based on interviews, literature study and workshops. In total nine workshops were organised: two workshops in each of four regions and one national consolidation workshop. The regional workshops included group work on vision and actions required to reach the vision, and covered the following aspects: business including tourism and deliveries, citizens and subsidized transport services including statutory social and health service transportation.
Rural areas have challenges organizing transport services efficiently due to long distances, sparse population and narrow flows of people and material. Population in rural areas is decreasing and aging, lowering vehicle occupancy rates and causing increasing social and health service transportation. All this combined with tightening financial target cause challenges in organizing efficient mobility and transport services in rural areas. The rural MaaS vision emphasizes well-being and accessibility with an appropriate service level and cost-efficiency.
Collaboration of different stakeholders – business, public sector and people – is the key for MaaS services in rural areas. New pilots with impact assessment are needed, and best practices disseminated. Special characteristics of rural areas need to be taken into account e.g. in legislation and financing. Technology is an enable for efficient MaaS services, thus digitalization of data and utilizing open/ defined interfaces is recommended. A tool kit for MaaS pilot/ service development is needed to promote the development and implementation of new MaaS services.
There are several structural and legislative changes ongoing in Finland. As the operational environment is changing, services and stakeholders need to renew along. Rural areas have a great potential in organizing transport services more efficiently. More collaboration and pilots and an open mind-set towards new services are needed to promote rural MaaS.
Opportunities of MaaS in US and rural areas
European urbanites enjoy dense networks of general use public transit (PT) in contrast to America’s cities that suffer individual cars have been the dominant force to a greater extent than in Europe. The same lack of fixed route based PT coverage applies to rural areas in Europe. Network coverage can be supplemented with flexible traffic solutions that can act as glue in the network. It is therefore crucial that flexible traffic solutions (1) become visible and accessible in trip planners, (2) are defined in models/modes and (3) can be used across different local and regional geographies. These three attributes of flexible solutions are crucial before MaaS can function outside the metro areas on a large scale.
Our approach in this paper and presentation is to describe the necessary steps to implement MaaS in regions that have not historically enjoyed the high level of service of European-style transport operations. First, we describe a traffic model with geographic descriptions of traffic applications, including each mode in a trip chain. Next, using case studies from US systems, we describe the realistic operating possibilities for automation of ordering and planning transportation to reduce unit costs. Finally, we make the case for the “back office” handling and process optimization of demand-responsive trips, drawing comparisons to existing practice and an ideal state.
Our research and practical experience in this area demonstrate several key findings for the future growth of MaaS in rural areas. First, there is a need to adapt GTFS-Flex for a variety of use cases. Second, we illustrate how MaaS can act as “insurance” or a quality alternative in areas historically dominated by automobile travel, in some cases where automobile ownership severely restricts mobility and access. Finally, we describe the market that can be created for vehicles being utilized in flexible services.
To ensure everyone has access to a meaningful MaaS, it is crucial to creating business/traffic model that ensures the provision of transport services also in rural areas and in other areas with poor traffic coverage.
There is a need to organize transport market for flexible transport.
There is intense competition to be the first company to market with a fully autonomous, driverless ride-sharing service, and if the news that The Information recently dropped is accurate, then Google/Alphabet-owned Waymo will be offering one imminently.
According to anonymous sources, the self-driving car unit is planning to launch a fully driverless fleet of cars before the end of the year. Initially the service is tipped as launching in Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix that has already been the site of extensive testing by Waymo. There a number of factors that favor Chandler — the good weather (although Waymo recently showed that extreme heat is no challenge), relatively few pedestrians, wide streets — but most pertinent detail is that Arizona has some of the most permissive laws regarding self-driving vehicles in the whole of the US. In the state you’re able test vehicles without a driver on board, as long as it’s possible for a licensed driver to take control of the vehicles remotely if necessary, and for them to bear responsibility for the vehicles.
Given that there are less than three months left of the year, it’s fair to say that a 2017 launch is pretty ambitious. However, even if it takes until 2018, Waymo will still have the jump on rival services such as Lyft. It’s not just the time that is running against Waymo, the anonymous sources have also said that the vehicles are experiencing problems. In certain situations there have been delays between between the car’s requests for help and the responses from the humans in the command center. There have also been reports that the cars repeatedly struggle with navigating left turns.
If this news really does come to pass it might be a bit of a shock to those people who remain steadfastly skeptical about self-driving cars, and it’ll signal a big step towards a driverless future.