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Integrating on-demand services into public transport network

VBZ Verkehrsbetriebe Zürich Logo bw VBZ Verkehrsbetriebe Zürich Logo

How can public transport operators best introduce on-demand services? Will the new services supplement or damage their traditional modes of transport? These questions can be answered with smart modeling, as recently shown in Zurich, Switzerland’s biggest city.

Zurich Public Transport (VBZ) is the operator of trams, buses, and a funicular in the city and its surroundings. In 2018, VBZ decided to examine the effects of integrating on-demand services into local public transport: Car-pooling vehicles that run on demand when booked via smartphone.

“A new on-demand service should fit seamlessly into the existing public transport offer and complement it, so it offers advantages for the user”, said Silvan Weber, Head of Market Development at VBZ. 

VBZ has already been using PTV Visum software for its supply planning. To analyze future demand and supply for the on-demand fleet, PTV added an intermodal feature to the VBZ’s Visum model. This enables VBZ to study different scenarios, each with a variety of parameters.

On-demand mobility services are economically successful when they are convincing: Generating maximum demand and having enough available fleet so unserved trips are kept to a minimum. To achieve this, VBZ used PTV Visum to calculate various scenarios and analyze potential demand.

The results provide information on the optimal fleet size, operating area, and service quality. They form the basis for well-informed decisions.

Christoph Baur, mobility analyst at VBZ, emphasizes the benefits of the study: “With the help of PTV Visum, our assumption was confirmed that on-demand services do not necessarily cannibalize conventional public transport services. They rather complement each other and thus increase the attractiveness and mobility in our city. We now have a tool to incorporate on-demand services into our planning”.

Supported PTV Visum modeling, VBZ had successfully experimented the Pikmi on-demand ride pooling service.

"We now have a tool to incorporate on-demand services into our planning”

Christoph Baur
Mobility Analyst, VBZ

The results

Benefit tile change mode

Models show how to integrate on-demand service with existing public transport

Benefit tile network

Clarity about fleet size, service hours and area

Benefit tile on demand

Pilot launch of new on-demand ride pooling service in Zurich

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