RIDE2RAIL finalises first demo in Athens testing Driver Companion Application
This summer, the RIDE2RAIL project launched its first demo held in Athens. Organised alongside the demonstration of sister project IP4MaaS, it was the first European demo in a series testing various forms of multimodal travel, including ride-sharing.
Launching on 18 July 2022, the demo focused on enhancing multimodality by testing both the Shift2Rail Travel Companion (TC) app as well as the RIDE2RAIL Driver Companion (DC) app, which has been developed within the project. During the pilot, private drivers used the DC app to make shared rides in their vehicles available to travelers going in the same direction. The travelers could find the shared rides among the available travel offers returned by the TC after their research for itineraries. These offers were also intelligently ranked in a way that reflected the users’ preferences. This was possible thanks to the offer categoriser, matcher and ranker: functionalities developed by RIDE2RAIL and integrated in the Shift2Rail ecosystem.
During the demo, real travellers used the two apps and tested all functionalities developed within the project. At the end, they were asked to complete a survey, sharing their experiences and their overall feedback.
The pilot leader responsible for coordinating all actions was CERTH/HIT, while the Transport Service Provider involved in the demo was Attiko Metro, who also carried out a Stated Preferences survey with the support of a specialized provider in Greece. This survey allowed to identify the users of Park & Ride in Athens, their preferences and their behaviors/new mobility patterns. It also allowed to engage with drivers willing to contribute to the demo.
Before the pilot officially kicked off, an engagement strategy was set up, which proved to gather high levels of interest among the local population.
The dissemination campaign carried out by the demo leader and the partners involved, supported by UITP and Europe’s Rail, ensured much attention and interest around RIDE2RAIL and the demo, with in the end 19 registered travellers and 9 registered drivers.
The feedback directly collected “”in the field”” and received via the surveys completed by users showed that the overall feeling of the demo was very positive. Overall, users were excited to know that attempts are made toward a ride-sharing app for Athens to simplify multimodal trips in the region.
Despite the interest of users in the implementation of a new MaaS tool, the demo also identified essential challenges to be taken into consideration by project partners and complementary IP4 CFM projects involved in the update of the Travel Companion App and in the management of the digital ecosystem in which it is integrated.
Among these challenges, it is important to consider that users prefer simple and easy tools, avoiding the need for multiple downloads for using different functionalities. Language also proved a barrier; users prefer tools entirely translated into the local language instead of mixed with English.
The Athens demo will be very relevant for continuing the refinement of the application and its improvement to make it as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. The above-mentioned feedback provided by users on different aspects, and the analysis of their actual needs and expectations, will serve as valuable input to be considered for further optimization of the apps, in order to deliver tools for efficiently and effectively combining flexible and scheduled transport services and for making ride sharing a feeder for public transport, thus reducing single car occupancy, congestion and emissions.
Further tests will be done in upcoming demos held from October 2022 to March 2023 in three locations across Europe: Brno, Padua, and Helsinki. Stay tuned!