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Ruhrbahn and Via launch Bussi, and on-demand transit service in Essen
January 25, 2021 (Essen, Germany) — Open a mobile app, book a car, and pick up other passengers in a flexible and environmentally-friendly way. Today, Ruhrbahn, the largest transport provider in the Ruhr region, will launch the pilot project Bussi, an on-demand transit service that will initially be offered in the core area around the city of Essen.
Bussi is in partnership with Via, the leader in public mobility solutions in Germany and across the globe. The service will feature five electrically powered London Taxis from the LEVC brand, which will stand out in Essen due to their special shape and golden yellow metallic paint. For legal reasons, the vehicles will only be available to be booked by Ruhrbahn employees during the first phase of the test operations. The service is expected to be available to all other passengers beginning in March 2021. At that time, the on-demand transit service Bussi will operate on Friday and Saturday evenings, and will appeal to passengers who want flexible transport options in the evening hours as an affordable, efficient, and convenient alternative to the private vehicle. The project is expected to run for two years.
Mayor Thomas Kufen said: “More than ever, public transport in Essen is the backbone of the traffic transition. I therefore very much welcome the fact that the Ruhrbahn service is now being expanded to include another important component with the on-demand shuttle Bussi. The citizens of Essen can be happy, because in the future they will have even more flexibility to travel with the Ruhrbahn by taking Bussi on weekend evenings.”
In times of the COVID-19 pandemic, these will primarily be people who currently have to drive to their workplaces. The new offer is also aimed at people who go out in the evening, and want to get from A to B as easily as possible.
Michael Feller, Ruhrbahn Managing Director: “With the intelligent networking of various mobility offers, we want to actively promote the traffic transition. Bussi is now part of the overall range for customers – a minibus in the style of a London taxi that can only be ordered via smartphone. This pilot project is important for us because we can meet the mobility needs of our customers even better with a flexible service and are building a purely digital offer for the first time.”
Ulrich Beul, chairman of the Ruhrbahn supervisory board, is delighted with the new offer: “I see great opportunities in the introduction of the Bussi on-demand shuttle. In this way, the existing range of the Ruhrbahn is perfectly complemented by another, more flexible service. This appeals to everyone who is already using the Ruhrbahn, but it is also aimed at those who are looking for a more individual public transport offer. I’m curious how Bussi arrives in Essen.”
Bussi: Pretty digital
Passengers will book a trip using the Bussi mobile app, which is powered by technology from Via. Bussi is free from fixed routes and schedules, and matches multiple passengers headed in a similar direction into a single vehicle. Via’s algorithms accomplish this by dynamically routing passengers to one of 3,400 nearby “virtual bus stops” for pickup and dropoff. This enables quick and efficient shared journeys without long detours, creating a convenient and sustainable transport offering. As part of the pilot project, Bussi will initially only operate in the core area around Essen city center. The costs for the customer are specified by the VRR; they are somewhere between the public transport tariff and the usual taxi fees.
Chris Snyder, Europe CEO of Via, said: “On-demand public transport is a flexible solution that will complement and strengthen the public transport network in Essen while advancing the traffic transition by reducing reliance on private vehicles. Technology offers an exciting opportunity for cities and transport authorities to use data to meet the changing needs of residents, while expanding access to an attractive public transit offering.”
Via’s technology is already being used by more than a dozen cities and public transit agencies in German-speaking countries which include Berlin (BVG), Stuttgart (SSB), Bielefeld (moBiel), Cologne (KVB), Lübeck (SVHL), Mainz (MVG), Neumünster (SWN), Oberhausen (STOAG), Wuppertal (WSW), and Zurich (VBZ).
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, special protective measures apply for trips on Bussi. A medical mask (including surgical masks, FFP2 masks and KN95 / N95 masks) must be worn when using Bussi. There is also a protective screen between the passengers and the driver, and at launch, capacity will be limited to three of the six seats per vehicle. In addition to normal cleaning, the vehicles will be disinfected daily. All information about the on-demand transit service Bussi, including the service area, can be found at: bussi.ruhrbahn.de.
Founded in 2012, Via pioneered the TransitTech category by using new technologies to power public mobility systems, optimizing networks of dynamic shuttles, buses, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses, and autonomous vehicles around the globe. Building the world’s most efficient, equitable, and sustainable transportation network for all riders — including those with limited mobility, those without smartphones, and unbanked populations — Via works with its partners to lower the cost of public transit and provide accessible options that rival the convenience of a personal car at a much reduced environmental impact. At the intersection of transportation and technology, Via is a visionary market leader that combines software innovation with sophisticated service design and operational expertise to fundamentally improve the way the world moves, with 150 global partners on six continents, and counting.