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 The CONNECT Project

CONNECT established a network of European expertise in the domain of Flexible Transport Services (FTS). The project brought together 23 partners from 11 EU countries.

CONNECT is a Co-ordination Action part-financed by the European Commission under the Sixth Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration, and co-ordinated by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Research. CONNECT started in January 2004 and was successfully completed in December 2005.

Flexible Transport Services
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 have now been established, including:

 Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) services for general use in rural areas
 DRT services for general use in peri-urban and sub-urban areas
 Dedicated services for users who face difficulties using regular public transport  (e.g. elderly, people with reduced mobility, etc.)
 Flexible services to replace fixed-line services at evenings and weekends
 Flexible services for areas of special demand e.g. airports, shopping precincts

The general concepts and develoment options of Flexible Transport Services are described in more details in the sub-sections in the left menu.  Many implementations of these kinds can be found in the CONNECT Knowledge Portal.

 The Work of CONNECT

CONNECT has:

 Established a continuously updated web-based Virtual Library on the domain of FTS. This covers on-going research, state-of-the art, and good practices in 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 of CONNECT project and is very promising.
 Organised three thematic workshops on FTS, covering ITS and ICT tools; concepts, operations and business models; vehicles and vehicle technologies.
 Disseminated and exchanged knowledge  by making information publicly available and presenting at a wide range of international and local conferences and workshops.

If you would like to join the CONNECT mailing list please contact the Project Co-ordinator at the University of Newcastle, Dr John Nelson (e-mail: connect-info@ncl.ac.uk).

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