First Pilot Test in Barcelona for an On-Demand Shuttle Service
CARNET, together with SEAT, the RACC and the start-up Shotl, have cooperated to pilot the first on-demand ride-sharing system in Barcelona. The project, called Barcelona, Smart Shuttle Pilot proposes a new urban transport system that has been tested with UPC students and staff of the RACC as an alternative form of mobility when there is a lack of public transport, or as an additional, more convenient option under some circumstances. This is a sustainable, efficient, flexible model of urban mobility that increases the satisfaction and adapts to the mobility needs of the travelers. This project was promoted by SEAT and had various participants. InLab FIB UPC contributed simulation and optimization techniques, and the start-up Shotl developed iOS and Android technologies for the system, and the dynamic route planning, which adapts in real-time to service requests from users and determines the most efficient route, minimizing detour times. The RACC contributed with the design of a user satisfaction survey and dedicated focus groups with the participants.
The project is based on a previous pilot test carried out in 2014, in which it was simulated how a real shared urban transport system would work in the Eixample district of Barcelona.
Shuttle systems are becoming a highly valuable tool that will aid mobility in large cities. They will ease traffic circulation, reduce the time needed for journeys and improve environmental quality in cities. This is a new concept that complements public transport. It is built around a fleet of shared vehicles, and software that matches service requests from users who want to travel from ‘A’ to ‘B’ with vehicles that are already on this route. Vehicles can make slight detours to pick up more travelers close to their current/desired pick-up location, so that they can share part of their ride with others. The route is optimized by the algorithm, which determines the best pick-up/drop-off locations, and sends clear instructions to the driver.
The Barcelona, Smart Shuttle Pilot project was developed in two stages. The first was set up using artificial demand (virtual users) and the second with real demand. In both cases, an optimum service was defined based on parameters relating to commuting and natural demand in such a scenario; maximum rerouting; maximum walk to pick up; maximum waiting time; and other relevant parameters.
In the project, the impact of these parameters was established and it was determined objectively which services users appreciated more than in other existing systems, in terms of convenience, reliability and cost, among other factors.