|GP: Introduction of demand responsive public transport in Miskolc (Hungary)|
The use of a demand-response public transport (DRT) service in order to provide additional capacity has been tested in the Hungarian city of Miskolc. The pilot project was undertaken in context of the ATTAC project (‘ATTractive urban transport, Accessible Cities’), which was supported by the EU’s Intereg programme for South East Europe. ATTAC, which ran from 2011 to 2014, also involved the cities of Košice in Slovakia, Maribor (Slovenia) and the Bulgarian city of Burgas.
The pilot project was run in 2013 by MVK, which is responsible for operating all public transport in the city of Miskolc. DRT services were initially operated on four existing lines throughout the city – effectively adding an additional potential two services per line, usually late at night. In order to demand the respective services, users were able to send in their requests via their phones or via the internet, which included the time and date of the trip, as well as the identification codes for the pick-up and drop-off locations. The additional DRT services only operated if they had been requested by a registered user and only stopped at the pre-determined stops if this had been requested by a registered user. The trial was accompanied by an extensive communication plan to inform citizens of the project, including its length and how the DRT system would work.
After a month of operation, the DRT services on the four existing lines were assessed and those that were less well used were replaced by a new line. This was identified by assessing locations in the city that were not adequately served by public transport, and for which there had been requests in the past for the provision of services. The eventual choice of line was to connect the main station with the city’s zoo, which was piloted as a 100% DRT line within the context of the ATTAC project. In order to improve the efficiency of the line still further, adjusting vehicle size to passenger demand was also piloted, e.g. by using taxi companies as sub-contractors. When the number of requests were low, the demand was met through taxis, which led to lower costs, as sub-contracting a taxi was cheaper than operating a virtually empty bus.
The response of users was overwhelmingly positive with users supporting the service and only 2% of the 4,500 requested services resulting in the user not using the bus. The new ‘Zoo line’ transported the majority of the requested journeys, which also highlighted the potential for DRT services on routes that are seasonal. The DRT services – including the use of taxis when there was very low demand – also brought about financial savings. Compared with running a late regular bus service on the existing lines, operating a DRT service delivered savings of 63% on average, while the cost of the DRT service on the new ‘Zoo line’ was around half of the cost of introducing a regular bus service on the route, which effectively made it self-financing. As a result of the pilot project, MVK was intending to retain the ‘Zoo line’ as a seasonal DRT service, and was also considering using DRT for additional late night services, particularly in the outskirts of the city.