"FTS for a rural area in the province of Bologna, Italy, with a low level of public transport usage but with the function of feeding into metropolitan trains"
SRM, in cooperation with the Municipality of Budrio, will prepare the feasibility study for FTS in a rural area.
This Feasibility Study aims to evaluate how to establish a new Flexible Transport Service for the Municipalities of Budrio, connecting small and dispersed villages to the train stations, in order to improve trips from and to Bologna, the capital of the Province.
Prior to the FLIPPER project the situation concerning transport (private and public), demography and land use was analysed and data was also collected about health related movements (in Budrio there is a hospital and many doctor’s offices) to increase our knowledge of citizens’ mobility needs.
This revealed that existing public transport services were made of some bus lines and a railway line. Bus lines can be divided into two groups: lines linking the capital of the Municipality with some villages and with Bologna, and lines linking some villages to the capital during school-times. However some villages are not linked with the capital at all. Bus frequencies are higher in peak hours, while during off-peak hours they decrease a lot, reducing the overall level of service. Railway line links the capital (where two of the three stations are located) with one villages (where the third station is located) and with Bologna, with a frequency of a train every 30 or 60 minutes, depending on the time slot and on the station.
Following this review of existing services a survey was conducted among citizens, asking them questions about their mobility habits and needs, and about what they would think of a new flexible public transport service. A questionnaire was also sent to all families, attached to the monthly town paper. In addition pupils of Budrio school were asked to interview their parents and relatives (using the questionnaire itself) for homework: this gave a larger response, offering us a statistically relevant sample for our analysis (we collected about 1.500 questionnaires on a population of 18.000 inhabitants – almost 10%).
The data analysis supplied some information concerning vehicles at citizens disposal (from 1,7 car per family to 0,3 bus pass per family), commuters trips for work, study or other reasons (37% of the population goes to Bologna, 29% rests in Budrio, 23% goes somewhere else….), number of commuters (66% of the population), the chosen vehicle (64% by car, 9% by bus, 7% by bike).
With regard to the interest in a new PT service, 45% of interviewed people declared an interest. Also the origin-destination matrix and time slots of wished trips were calculated.
Furthermore, the hypothetical ticket cost was evaluated.
Another interesting result was obtained from the analysis of healthcare services data. In the capital there is a hospital, which supplies some healthcare service. Thanks to the society charged to manage all healthcare booking, it was possible to have at disposal and analyze all data concerning a 6-months bookings, and related healthcare services provision. So, a lot of data on trips to/from the hospital, with origins and time-slots detail for each trip, was at Authority disposal: analysis of this data show that a lot of these trips could be delivered by a FTS.
The design of a service and planning to meet the identified user requirements was divided into three phases:
- evaluation of Municipality of Budrio request;
- design of a conventional service;
- design of a flexible transport service.
The first phase aimed to understand if the Municipality request to link villages to railway stations could have been further improved, given unchanged other factors, with some other links. Questionnaire results and other analyzed data show some possible needed trips (for example trips to/from the hospital) which could be performed by a new PT service, with some specific route diversions or new bus stops to be located throughout the territory. Furthermore it was verified that commuting relations are already satisfied by the existing PT service, so it is better to pay more attention to not-commuting or occasional trips.
The second phase aimed to verify if a flexible service would be really better than a conventional one. A conventional service was then designed, taking into account available economic resources and Municipality requests: connection with trains were designed, but the result was not satisfying, because of the low level of service obtained.
Finally, an FTS was designed, defining all service parameters: bus stops locations, the road network, service time, vehicle, booking procedure, travel dispatch center, travel rules. This last ones are necessary parameters for the route optimization procedure, and they have been defined on the basis of hypothetical trips.
An hypothesis of fare and local contribution needed was elaborated too, on the basis of a cost analysis concerning possible service models.
This assessment confirmed that a FTS service would be more suitable than a conventional service for meeting the identified user requirements.
Discussions are now taking place with PT and call-centre operators, in order to study the market. It is anticipated that the service will operate with an experimental period - one year - also because in this way we can directly commit the service to one operator of our choice (this procedure is allowed by our legal framework). We want to keep the service constantly monitored in order to tune it in case of need during this experimental period. We recommend to make a tender only after the service is set and positively evaluated.
Currently we are making some economic simulations and we’re defining technological details of the service (ITC solutions).