CUSTOMER

District of Hof

REGION

District of Hof,
Bavaria

PROJECT

Hofer LandBus
Active since September 2019

Press KIT

Regional cooperation with the taxi industry for the new on-demand bus in Hof

Summary

Since September 2019, the Hofer LandBus, the new on-demand bus implemented in cooperation with door2door, has been operating in the Franconian district of Hof across 120 square kilometres in the municipalities Rehau and Regnitzlosau. Dispensing with a timetable and scheduled routes, the mobility offer can be accessed spontaneously via app or landline, connecting various areas in the district and the region. The regional on-demand service runs between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. every weekday based on the local mobility needs of citizens, transporting them quickly and flexibly from and to 170 virtual stops. This makes the Hofer LandBus one of the most ambitious rural on-demand projects ever with a high level of availability and high density of stops. The special feature of this offer: the value of the mobility service is created locally and promotes the quality of life in the region.

Making rural areas more attractive through new mobility services

The Hofer LandBus started with four goals:

  • Expanding mobility for young and old
  • Reducing the traffic volume
  • Protecting the environment
  • Providing an attractive alternative to the personal car

Alternative, environmentally-friendly and inclusive mobility forms are mainly concentrated in urban areas that are already well-equipped with public transport services. Rural areas, on the other hand, have completely different needs. There is a lack of comprehensive services, the distances are often longer and town centres or special destinations can often only be reached by car. All the more reason to establish new mobility services like the Hofer LandBus. The digital transport offer enhances both public services and environmental relief. The system pools as many trips as possible, enabling demand-oriented, individually tailored routes while eliminating the need for individual car journeys. A trip costs three euros, regardless of the distance travelled.

Cooperation with a regional taxi company, which has a large, diverse fleet, ensures the scalability of the project. This cooperation also eliminated the need for the public transport operator to purchase vehicles, which reduced costs and sped up the implementation of the project. The project shows that rural areas also offer exceptional opportunities for on-demand buses – initial discussions with neighbouring districts are already taking place. Value is created locally, the partners are trusted and the new cooperation brings additional benefits to the entire region.

Hofer Landbus

The Hofer LandBus was implemented together with the local taxi industry.

Point of departure

Like many rural regions, the district of Hof needed to solve a problem: how to make rural public transport more user-friendly and accessible, thereby creating more incentives for life in the country. Four-fifths of Germany is classified as rural, but only one-fifth of its inhabitants live in these areas. Over the past decades, 6,000 kilometres of railroads have been dismantled. The same applies to public transport connections, which – if they exist at all – have been cut back more and more. This reduced flexibility has led to a drop in demand – a downward spiral. New digital solutions such as those offered by door2door can be integrated into existing systems, using local synergies to make flexibility and customer focus tangible again. The goal is to replace individual car journeys, thereby relieving both the environment and the region.

An approach based on partnership

Marco Herrmann from the local taxi company is the “fleet manager” for the Hofer LandBus, providing taxis from his fleet for the new service. These are located at his depot in the town of Rehau and can go out on shifts, depending on customer requests. This cooperation enabled a very customer-centred offer from the very start – from accessible rides to the transportation of groups. The digital on-demand bus, licensed as a regular transport service, serves 185 stops in 60 districts, which are marked with signs. It covers an area of 120 square kilometres. A total of six vehicles are currently equipped with tablets and the driver software – expansion to reflect increasing demand is possible without any problems. This eliminates the local transport operator’s need to purchase new vehicles – a considerable investment – while also ensuring flexible handling. The taxi owner has hired and trained three drivers especially for this purpose. The remaining shifts are covered by existing personnel.

The trips can be booked not only by app, but also by landline. Users pay a flat rate of three euros per ride in the vehicle; children under six years of age and walking disability card holders travel free of charge. A very convenient feature is pre-booking, which allows users to reserve rides up to seven days in advance. This not only increases reliability for the passenger, but makes it easier for all companies involved to plan the transport.

In the long term, the digital service is to be expanded into other regions as a full service from a single source. As software partner, door2dooor convinced not only with its proven, customer-oriented and mature technology, but also with its ability to re-establish a digital and sustainable regional public transport concept. The parties involved are already in lively discussions with surrounding municipalities. An expansion of the operating area is also being planned.

Hofer Landbus Startbildschirm

Splash screen of the Hofer LandBus app

Hofer Landbus App

Booking via the Hofer LandBus app

With the Hofer LandBus we successively launched a pilot project that breaks completely new ground in terms of rural mobility. The Hofer LandBus improves the public transport offer while ensuring passengers have maximum flexibility – a solid step towards a new type of mobility in the public sector.

DISTRICT ADMINISTRATOR DR. OLIVER BÄR

Disrict of Hof

From idea to implementation

The Hofer LandBus is one of the most ambitious projects of its kind to date: on-demand services with a large operating area (120 km² in total), customer-friendly operating hours (6 a.m. – 11 p.m. 7 days a week) and a high density of virtual stops (170) are normally only found in cities. However, greater accessibility to public transport and improved comfort levels are also needed in rural areas to encourage more people to give up using their private cars and to also provide flexible and mobile transportation for those residents without cars.

Even traditional on-demand transport services such as people’s buses, shared taxis, call line services and classic carpooling do not provide the desired freedom of movement, as they often require complicated advance planning or are not designed to be efficient. In addition, rural areas suffer from rural exodus – more and more young people are moving to cities. The resulting low demand and high maintenance costs mean that local transport companies are losing business, which is why more and more scheduled services are being cut. As a result, many people prefer to rely on their own car – or move to the city, where offers are numerous and flexible. A study from 2018 shows that 44% of all Germans would rather live in the countryside.

The incentive provided by on-demand mobility to live a modern life as one can in the city with all the advantages of the rural lifestyle can have an enormous impact on demographic change in the future.

So the district of Hof decided to undertake this ambitious project in cooperation with the partners Taxi Herrmann and door2door, who brought their respective expertise in fleet management and technical service provision to the project.

Hofer Landbus

door2door Co-CEO and Founder Dr. Tom Kirschbaum (left) at the official launch of the new Hofer LandBus.

SHow the Hofer LandBus works

The passenger specifies his or her desired journey in the app or by telephone, and can book a trip up to seven days in advance. This ensures reliability, especially when it comes to visits to the doctor or hairdresser. Depending on the vehicle used, passengers are picked up close to their home and brought to the desired drop-off points in groups of four to eight people along the ideal route that has been automatically determined by the algorithm. The optimal pick-up and drop-off points are shown on the corresponding app displays for both the passenger and the driver. The route as well as all passengers entering and exiting the vehicle can be tracked in real time by dispatchers at the service centre. The app handles the payment process, and also integrates a feature that enables wheelchair users to book an accessible vehicle.

November 2018
First contact
|
Februar 2019
Official project start
|
März 2019
Roll-out begins
|
Mai 2019
Product concept workshop and
brand development
|
August 2019
Start of the test phase and field test
|
September 2019
Official start of operation
after experimentation clause
|
Mai 2020
Operational concept is validated
|
August 2020
Introduction of 7-day pre-booking function

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