Stadtwerke Münster closes the mobility gap with new on-demand bus offer
On 1 September 2020, Stadtwerke Münster launched LOOPmünster, a new local public transport service for citizens. The “LOOP” is an on-demand bus that goes where existing public transport options don’t. Via an app, users connect with an accessible London cab powered by green electricity that takes passengers to their destination quickly and in an environmentally-friendly way. LOOPmünster is on the go during the usual public transport operating hours all week from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. the next day, and even around the clock on weekends. LOOPmünster is thus the largest on-demand project in North Rhine-Westphalia in terms of weekly operating hours and also happens to be one of the largest in Europe. The pilot project is scheduled to run for three years and is funded by the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Münster with five million euros as part of “Mobil.NRW – Model projects for innovative public transport in rural areas”.
LOOPmünster is flexible, orients itself on the needs of passengers, and can be easily booked via app. Especially in rural areas, we need appealing mobility offers like these so that people make the switch to public transport. The concept for an innovative public transport service in rural areas designed by the City of Münster and Stadtwerke Münster convinced us in the state competition.
Minister of Transport of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia
A clear goal in sight
The city of Münster has grown rapidly in recent years, leading to changing mobility demands and thus also new requirements for public transport. A new digitalized service offered the opportunity to take the changing needs of citizens into account and also to provide them with a flexible, modern and demand-oriented local public transport service. Stadtwerke Münster set itself the goal of launching a pilot on-demand bus project that would connect new neighbourhoods and previously hard-to-reach areas while also improving the quality of life in the city. Hiltrup in southern Münster was chosen to test the new, comprehensive service due to the high traffic volume and scant public transport connections.
In addition to improvements for public transport users, the city hopes to gain further insights into ways of using digital services to strengthen climate-friendly transport while promoting the transport turnaround. “LOOPmünster is very flexible and convenient for the citizens of Münster, but at the same time it is instrumental in reducing the number of car tips, thereby supporting our climate goals,” said Mayor Markus Lewe. The findings in terms of workability, benefits and costs as well as environmental protection will be taken into account in the “Mobility Master Plan 2035+” of the City of Münster. The overarching concept serves as a central tool for developing goals, strategies and measures on the road for a turnaround in transport policies. “We consider it our mission to make everyday life easier for our customers and would therefore like to establish a mobility platform by 2025 that combines all types of sustainable mobility,” explains Frank Gäfgen, Managing Director, Mobility, Stadtwerke Münster.
Closing the mobility gap
With this new service, Stadtwerke Münster is closing another public transport gap, as Münster-Hiltrup, Münster’s largest district, was previously not comprehensively connected to the city. This has changed significantly with the launch of the new on-demand bus. LOOPmünster now provides a direct connection to train stations, key bus stops and places of interest, promoting local transport with a level of quality and reliability that was previously unavailable. In addition to existing bus stops, the on-demand bus, which has been licensed as a regular service, serves 470 virtual stops, which were implemented for the area using door2door’s data-based comparison of supply and demand. Pedestrian accessibility to the public transport system has also improved enormously, as the new service has tripled the number of bus stops. The operating area of around 40 square kilometres includes the districts Hiltrup, Amelsbüren, Berg, Fidel, Mecklenbeck, Düesberg, parts of Geistviertel and surrounding residential and commercial areas such as Lodenheide. A total of some 55,000 people will benefit from the flexible, area-wide offer.
Digitalization enables us to close many gaps in the public transport network through new on-demand services and a better networking of transport offerings. Booking a bus via app – this is something that is citizen-friendly, innovative and makes our local public transport even better. I am delighted that this is possible with German software and expertise, and I hope that many more cities and communities will decide to digitally supplement their public transport services.
Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure
Implementation in record time of 90 days
The operational concept and route management was developed by door2door and implemented within just 90 days with the City of Münster and the Stadtwerke. As project manager, Max Webers of door2door oversaw the operative and technical implementation of the individual project phases, from the analysis of requirements to the successful start of operations. Efficiency and productivity were ensured in the cooperation through regular exchange and maximum transparency on both sides. door2door also trained product experts who then conducted internal trainings – a decisive contribution to the project’s success. “LOOPmünster, which was already a huge successful in the first week of operation, was delivered in just 10 weeks. A prerequisite for the efficient implementation was the close and cooperative partnership between Stadtwerke Münster and door2door. The courage to set priorities, ask questions and provide direct feedback is also part of the formula for success,” says Max Webers.
Eco-friendly transport on the road
A total of eleven LOOPmünster on-demand buses are on the road in southern Münster. The low-emission plug-in hybrid vehicles, London taxiLEVC TX models, are mainly electric and therefore very quiet and do not emit any exhaust fumes. The drivers also received additional training to ensure emission-free driving. The vehicles with a purely electric range of more than 100 kilometres can be tanked with green power at several charging stations in the operating area. The general public also benefits from LOOPmünster’s newly installed charging stations: one of the two charging points per pillar can be used by local residents. The London taxis have six seats and, thanks to an extendable ramp, can also be used by people in wheelchairs or those who use a rollator. There is no surcharge for riding with LOOPmünster and normal public transport ticket prices apply, including season tickets, semester tickets and timed tickets. One-way tickets can also be purchased via app. “It was especially important to us that the passengers do not pay a surcharge. A trip with LOOPmünster is available at the normal public transport fare. That means if you have a subscription, you don’t pay extra and the 90-minute ticket is just as valid in the on-demand buses as on the big ones you normally see in a city. We are convinced that the project will boost climate-friendly local transport. If it works, we can imagine introducing an equally smart offer in other districts,” explains city planning officer Robin Denstorff.
First exchange between SWMS and door2door
on the topic of ridepooling
Lab4Mobility event at door2door
“Hiltrup On-Demand” application submitted
Kick-off event in Münster
Graphics, design and configuration finalized
Internal SWMS trainers are trained by door2door
Test application released
Training and deployment in the streets of Münster
Release of the final app in the stores
Start of operation
Over 15,000 passengers transported
LOOPmünster introduces new software enhancement
that largely eliminates parallel journeys to public transport
More than 200,000 transported passengers
How LOOPmünster works
If a passenger wants to go on a trip, he or she simply enters the desired pick-up and drop-off points in the LOOPmünster app. Trips can be booked from and to 700 stops in the service area. LOOPmünster travels without a rigid timetable on a nearly direct route to the selected drop-off point. Passengers on similar journeys are pooled (maximum of six people per vehicle) and brought to their desired drop-off via the best possible route, which is automatically determined. What’s more, the app includes a function that enables wheelchair users to book an accessible vehicle.
Initial success after just a few weeks of operation
Together with Stadtwerke Münster, door2door analyzes operating data, utilization and passenger figures in order to continuously improve the service. Shortly after its launch, the new service proved to be very successful. In the first two months, over 33,000 passengers took advantage of the new offer. In 44% of the trips, several passengers were pooled together, i.e. picked up one after the other and taken to their respective destination together. Since early October 2020, LOOPmünster can also be booked by landline, allowing passengers without a smartphone to take advantage of the modern mobility service. The citizens of Münster are very enthusiastic and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive: “It’s a great idea, especially because the normal travel tariff applies. I think this is the future of public transport. Everything is flexible, without a fixed timetable, and soon these on-demand buses may even be able to drive autonomously,” wrote one user. The high number of bookings for wheelchair rides is also gratifying. Due to the high demand and the high vehicle utilization rate, an expansion of the fleet is planned for December 2020. In the medium term, the digital service will also be extended to other parts of the city.
The LOOP is already a successful model. Now our goal should be to implement the project throughout Münster.
Mayor of Münster
Urban on-demand buses
MVG offers an on-demand bus solution that meets the challenges of urbanization.
Urban on-demand buses
The myDVG app integrates on-demand bus service and public transport into one unified app.