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CONNECT
Coordination of CONcepts for NEw Collective Transport

The scope of this proposal is flexible collective mobility services (FCMS). This covers all forms of intermediate transport which may be classified as flexible and collective. The use of urban collective transport for passenger traffic and small goods traffic has important potential from the viewpoint of environment and city logistics. There are considerable possibilities to reduce (gasoline-fuelled) private traffic, save operating costs and increase the level of service experienced by the passenger whilst also encouraging the promotion of small alternatively-fuelled vehicles.

Tags: Multimodal

Background

The domain of flexible transport services (FTS) covers a broad range of mobility products usually – but not necessarily – operated by moderate and/or small capacity vehicles. The distinguishing feature of FTS is that one or more of the dimensions of the service can be adjusted to meet the actual needs of the users. This means that the route can be designed for the specific requests of the users for that specific trip, the time of departure or arrival could be brought forward or delayed to suit the customers, a bigger or smaller vehicle could be used depending on the number of passengers, and a specifically equipped vehicle or trained driver could be assigned if a customer has special needs.

Throughout Europe, a wide range of FTS has now been established, including:

  • demand responsive transport (DRT) services for general use in rural areas
  • DRT services for general use in peri-urban and suburban areas
  • dedicated services for users who face difficulties using regular public transport (e.g. the elderly and disabled)
  • flexible services to replace fixed-line services at evenings and weekends
  • flexible services serving destinations of special demand, e.g. airports, shopping precincts.

However, such transport services to date do not yet exploit the true potential of flexible collective mobility and further work is required on the knowledge acquisition, analysis and dispatching functions of the intermediate transport solutions that are required in the pursuit of sustainable mobility.

Objectives

The main objectives of CONNECT are:

  • to set up a continuously updated web-based ‘virtual library’
  • to support the development of skills and best practice in the field of FTS
  • to provide guidelines and recommendations for supporting business development of FTS
  • to organise thematic workshops for relevant user communities covering systems and operations, technologies, vehicles and vehicle technologies, and FTS businesses
  • to increase the awareness of CONNECT among a broader audience.
The front page of the CONNECT website for the knowledge repository of flexible transport services
The front page of the CONNECT website for the knowledge repository of flexible transport services
the CONNECT project

Description of work

WP1 (Project Management) ensured that the project was carried out as planned and that all relevant deadlines were met.

WP2 (Knowledge Repository) set up a common information system, which gathered and managed information on on-going research, the state-of-the-art and good practice in flexible transport and its supporting technologies.

WP3 (Training and Skills) aimed to support the development of skills and best practice in the field of FTS through a number of actions, including provision of courses, training and educational resources, facilitation of personnel exchanges and collection, development and promotion of best practice.

WP4 (Business Development) generated and formalised the necessary knowledge to provide valuable guidelines and recommendations for supporting business development of FTS, from a multidisciplinary point of view and producing knowledge on business models, organisational issues and on regulatory, legal and policy aspects.

WP5 (User Community Workshops) organised four thematic workshops for the user communities involved in flexible and responsive forms of transport, generating and distributing advance relevant preparatory materials, and preparing key public reports on the workshop themes.

WP6 (Dissemination) had two main objectives: raising awareness about CONNECT, and especially the knowledge repository developed in WP2, and the dissemination of materials and information.

Results

CONNECT has achieved the following:

Established a continuously updated web-based virtual library on the domain of FTS. It is publicly available and designed as a resource to assist practitioners.

Supported knowledge transfer and training by developing materials for training courses on FTS based on a modular approach, organising study tours, identification and promotion of good practice.

Researched current practice of FTS in Europe, with special focus on business models, institutional and organisational frameworks, and legal and regulatory frameworks.

Developed methods and resources for developing and assessing options for business models for FTS. This is original work as a result of CONNECT and looks very promising.

Organised four thematic workshops on FTS in three different countries, covering systems and operations, technologies for FTS, business models, and vehicles and vehicle technologies.

Disseminated and exchanged knowledge by making information publicly available and presenting this at a wide range of conferences and workshops.

The CONNECT Virtual Library: The virtual library contains documents, reports and presentations on many different aspects of flexible transport. It is accessible via the CONNECT website, making it a valuable, publicly accessible resource for all practitioners and user communities. The virtual library currently contains over 230 different documents on flexible transport and has a matrix structure, classified according to passenger transport, freight transport, urban transport and rural transport. Documents are characterised by metadata to improve searching. This expert database aids both the CONNECT consortium partners and external stakeholders in implementing and optimising flexible transport services. It is expected that a continuous process of updating and maintenance of the virtual library will be put in place.

Accessible vehicle used on demand responsive transport service in a sparsely populated area in North East England
Accessible vehicle used on demand responsive transport service in a sparsely populated area in North East England
Northumberland County Council

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