Information flows in Demand Responsive Public Transport: Interactivity, information, and flexibility in a modern ridesharing service

Oscar Askfelt and Karl Hamnebo, Malmö University, Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), spring 2021.

The focus of this thesis is to study what and how information flows can be used to improve Demand responsive transport (DRT) systems by understanding potential users and how they could be willing to participate in DRT to a higher degree. The viewpoint of this thesis tends to lean towards a DRT service of a public transport type. This thesis studies users in relation to what interaction and information they perceive to be needed in dealing with a DRT service and the different pros and cons with various approaches. The study gathers information by performing adapted qualitative interviews with a select number of users between the ages of 20-35. The participants give their views on three DRT scenarios and reflect on DRT in general as a concept presented to them through a tangible mocked-up interactive prototype. 

The thesis makes several distinct findings. The importance of pricing a DRT service correctly is vital to the users, as several participants in the study relied on pricing for decision-making. It also finds that the usage of zones as nomenclature is confusing to many users. The services must be dependable and punctual to both attract users, keep users, and build trust among the general populace.

This study shows that DRT services could be a difficult concept to introduce to users. DRT could be introduced as a complement or as an alternative to conventional public transport. An important factor is a well-designed flow of information in the application to keep the user engaged and involved. It is shown that the usability of the application is a cornerstone for a theoretical DRT service to excel. Context is important where DRT and ridesharing would have a higher success rate. Nighttime in urban areas could be a niche market, due to the irregularity, delay, or interruption of regular public transport services at these hours.