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 The Evolution of Flexible Transport Services

Recent research suggest that the evolution of FTS will involve five layers as shown in the Figure below. The Mobility Agency is the third layer, and is the current state-of-the-art. The primary purpose of the 5-layer model is to consider both the “road-map” for FTS services and organisations, and to foresee the technical and support requirements

It is clear that FTS – currently in the form of DRT – has moved radically from being a niche mobility product to being a more significant mobility concept that is appearing in many environments. There is a clear need for new concepts and practical methods for business models, institutional and organisational frameworks, and legal and regulatory frameworks.

Issues for Policy Makers
The transformation of DRT to FTS and its growth is of particular interest to policy makers, regulators, operators and practitioners. There are already established legal and regulatory frameworks, funding frameworks, authorities and institutions, transport supply industry, and there are vested interests. Five very significant questions arise:

  1. Is there a viable Socio-Economic and/or Business Case for FTS, and if so, which Business Models offer the greatest potential ?
  2. What organisational and institutional arrangements are best for FTS?
  3. What is the appropriate Legal and Regulatory frameworks for FTS
  4. Does FTS face significant barriers within the current frameworks (mostly designed at a time prior to modern DRT) ? And if so, do these barriers represent reasonable regulation, or are they either outdated or protectionist ?
  5. How can a site identify relevant options, and choose among them ?

Emerging Business Models
CONNECT identifies three factors which form the core of the emerging Business Models :

  1. The Fundamental Nature of the FTS
    1. FTS as a means of meeting difficult or special needs
    2. FTS as an instrument of rural development and/or social improvement
    3. FTS as a significant transport mode
  2. Business Form of the FTS Manager
    1. Primarily as transporters
    2. Primarily as Call Centres, with supporting transportation functions
    3. As Business Acquirers, with call centre and transportation functions
  3. The Business Dynamic of the participants:
    1. Competitive procurement
    2. Turnkey contracts
    3. Partnerships for social gain
    4. Partnerships for commercial gain

Motivations of stakeholders

It is also necessary to consider who are the likely participants, and why they would get involved in FTS. This fundamentally shapes their perception of the purpose and role of the FTS, what they expect to get out of it, their willingness to commit resources, and the basis for their negotiations with other participants. Motivations include:

 Respond to requirement or political order to provide basic mobility
 Responding to requirement or political order to provide specified mobility to particular user groups
 Minimisation or optimisation of cost to achieve mandated mobility levels
 Solutions to overcome mobility challenges and social exclusion
 Entrepreneurial interest to invest and seek reward
 The seeking of a new business niche for existing fleet or to put pressure on competitors.
 A resource owner’s interest to find productive use for resources and earn income

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