July 1, 2021 (Berlin/Kelheim) -- Today, the operation of the KelRide project begins with the launch of the updated KEXI Kelheim app and service for all riders in the district of Kelheim, Germany. Formally launched earlier this year, the KelRide research project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), aims to provide an autonomous, on-demand ridepooling service that is directly integrated into the public transport network and can operate in all weather conditions.
The first major milestone in the implementation of the KelRide project is the conversion of KEXI to the Via technology platform. Via takes an integrated approach to service design and operation, enabling the district of Kelheim to provide an on-demand service that meets the needs of all Kelheim residents and visitors
In partnership with Via, the leader in TransitTech, the project consortium, led by technology company EasyMile, is laying the groundwork for future enhancements to the service.
Over the next few months, interfaces will be developed and integrated into the app to enable the operation of a mixed fleet consisting of conventional and autonomous vehicles next year. In addition, Via's technology will also enable an intermodal booking option to be introduced. This will allow passengers to view and book multiple modes of transport across the entire public transport network in Kelheim.
The existing KEXI fleet will also be expanded to include another conventional vehicle, offering a wide range of customers the best possible user experience.
District Administrator Martin Neumeyer emphasized: "Today is the visible sign that innovations are not just theoretical thought constructs, but are taking concrete shape in the district of Kelheim.” With the use of automated vehicles in public transport from July 1, 2022, the next major milestone is already planned.
"The introduction Via’s technology to power the on-demand service KEXI is the first step in a fundamental evolution of public transport for the people of Kelheim," said Valerie von der Tann, Head of Via Germany. "The future of mobility is autonomous - and combining autonomous technology with efficient, on-demand public transport will be key to creating convenient, flexible, and environmentally-friendly mobility solutions for rural areas."
For KEXI customers, these changes represent an improvement. In the course of the app conversion to Via’s platform, and the introduction of a third conventional vehicle, the operating hours were able to be extended. In the future, customers will have the opportunity to use KEXI with extended hours, from Monday to Saturday from 06:00 to 23:00. During periods of high demand, including 11:00 to 14:00, the larger fleet will allow for more bookings to be processed.
Existing customers have been informed in recent weeks that they will need to download the new KEXI Kelheim app to book KEXI journeys beginning on July 1. Customers already registered in the KEXI system will receive a credit of three free rides.
The system of on-demand transport in Kelheim remains in place.
Technology partner Via provides the passenger and driver apps, as well as the intelligent routing and booking system behind the KEXI service. Via's advanced algorithms allow multiple passengers to seamlessly and safely share the same vehicle. Passengers will be directed to one of 147 nearby stops within short walking distance to board and disembark, enabling quick and efficient shared rides without lengthy detours. Passengers can track the vehicle's progress in real-time on the mobile app. Via currently works with more than 500 partners on five continents worldwide, and in German-speaking countries with around 20 partners, including Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG (SSB) or FLEXIBUS.
Founded in 2012, Via is a pioneer in the TransitTech category, deploying new technologies for public mobility systems and optimizing networks of dynamic shuttles, buses, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses and autonomous vehicles around the globe. Via is building the world's most efficient, equitable, and sustainable transportation network for all passengers- including people with limited mobility, people without smartphones, and people without bank accounts-and working with its partners to lower the cost of public transit and provide accessible options that rival the convenience of owning a car, with significantly less environmental impact. At the intersection of transportation and technology, Via is a visionary leader, combining software innovation with sophisticated service design and operational expertise to fundamentally improve the way the world moves - with more than 500 global partners on five continents and counting.
About the KelRide project:
The KelRide project will run until the end of 2023 and is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) as part of the "Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence in Mobility" action plan with a total of around 10.9 million euros. The project is being managed by the Federal Institute for Administrative Tasks (BAV). Together, the consortium, consisting of the technology company EasyMile, the district of Kelheim, the technology provider Via, the management consultancy P3 Group, TÜV Rheinland and the Technical University of Berlin, is working on improving the weather resistance of autonomous vehicles and efficiently integrating ridepooling solutions into public transport.