December 3, 2020 (COLOGNE)-- ViaVan, Europe’s leader in TransitTech, announces a partnership with Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe AG (KVB) to introduce on-demand public transport in Cologne. The service, “Isi”, features low-emission vehicles and will launch on December 14 as a complement to and extension of Cologne’s public transport network, with the goal of enhancing access to public transportation and thereby reducing the need for a private car in the city.
Purposefully designed day-and-nighttime service
As part of the KVB’s vision to fill the gaps in public transport where it is needed most, reducing personal vehicle use, Isi was specifically designed with two distinct daytime service zones and center-city access during the weekend evening hours.
Isi’s daytime service will operate in Linksrheinisch and Rechtsrheinishin, two areas on both sides of the river Rhein. These areas were selected because they can benefit from on-demand public transport. Criteria include significant private vehicle usage, commercial, professional, and medical hubs, and a high number of senior citizens who live more than 300 meters from the nearest public transport stop.
During the weekend evening hours, Isi will operate in the city center of Cologne, in addition to neighboring districts. The evening service holds strong potential to supplement Cologne’s existing public transport in hours where traditional public transport services are less available, supporting travel to leisure, and cultural activities without the need for a private vehicle.
"We need creative mobility offers in Cologne in order to master the current and future challenges of the mobility turnaround and the climate,” said Andrea Blome, Councillor for Mobility and Real Estate of the City of Cologne. “The on-demand offer is a flexible addition to the current public transport system, because it allows us to pick up people in a simple and innovative way exactly where there are gaps in the network. We are taking a further, important step towards coming closer to my vision of future mobility.”
"With the on-demand service, we want to make a further contribution to services in Cologne to motivate even more people to switch from private transport to more climate-friendly public offerings,” explained Stefanie Haaks, Chairwoman of the Board of Management of Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe AG. "My wish for all those involved in the project, but most of all for the further development of the City of Cologne, is that Isi will become established and provide lasting relief from traffic congestion.”
"More and more cities and public transport companies in Germany are relying on our flexible on-demand technology to strengthen local public transport," said Chris Snyder, CEO of ViaVan. "We are pleased to be working with KVB to complement and expand access to Cologne's public transport network with this new service, and to offer an attractive alternative to private transport.”
Technology partner ViaVan
ViaVan’s technology powers the Isi passenger and driver apps, in addition to managing the ticket integration, routing, booking, and real-time demand. Vehicles will be efficiently utilized and deployed based on real-time rider demand through ViaVan’s platform.
ViaVan’s advanced algorithms will enable multiple passengers to seamlessly and safely share the same vehicle. Riders will be directed to a nearby virtual bus stop within a short walking distance for pick up and drop off, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours or added vehicle miles.
In the DACH region, ViaVan has nearly one dozen partnerships with municipalities and public transit authorities including Berlin (BVG), Bielefeld (moBiel), Lübeck (SVHL), Mainz (MVG), Neumünster (SWN), Oberhausen (STOAG), Wuppertal (WSW) und Zurich (VBZ).
Booking and payment
The Isi mobile app, powered by ViaVan, will be available on iOS (App Store) and Android (Google Play) starting on December 13, with the links to download available on www.kvb.koeln/isi. Riders will be able to book a shuttle directly from their smartphone using the Isi mobile app, or by calling 0221 547 3333. Riders will select a pick up and drop off location, and will receive vehicle information and a specific pickup location and estimated ETA. Passengers can track their journey in the Isi app.
Isi will be integrated into the existing public transport ticket system, making rides on Isi and connection to other modes of public transport accessible and easy to use.
When a rider requests a ride in the Isi mobile app, ViaVan’s technology will calculate if any additional tickets will be required to book based on the number of passengers and existing KVB public transport tickets held in the booking. If additional tickets are necessary, riders can pay directly with CreditCard and PayPal through the mobile app, and a QR code ticket will be generated for the rider to show the driver upon boarding. Riders will also have the option to pay on board. Rides for passengers without VRS chip cards or time tickets will start at just 2.70 Euros, the same price as a one-way bus ticket.
In line with public health guidelines, vehicles will be restricted to 50 percent capacity at launch, cleaned and disinfected, and have a separation pane between the passengers and driver. Per KVB regulations, all passengers without a corresponding certificate, and children of school age or older will be required to wear a mask during the entire ride.
Sustainability and accessibility
In addition to reduced carbon footprint and vehicle miles achieved through efficiently shared on-demand rides, all vehicles in the service will be low-emission vehicles.
The service will include wheelchair-accessible vehicles, and ViaVan’s technology will enable riders to identify WAV needs in the mobile app. A talk-back function will be available for visually-impaired riders.
ViaVan is the leading provider of innovative on-demand shared transit services in Europe. ViaVan was founded in 2017 as a joint venture between Via, the world’s most sophisticated developer of dynamic shared ride technology, and Mercedes-Benz Vans, the leading manufacturer of iconic passenger and cargo vans. Working closely with cities and public transit operators, ViaVan powers dynamic mobility services that complement existing transportation infrastructure. ViaVan operates direct-to-consumer services and on-demand services in partnership with major public transit authorities, including the BerlKönig with Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG). Through their partnership, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Via are also collaborating on the development of advanced mobility solutions, from sensor technology, to electric vehicle fleet management, to autonomous driving. With more than 150 launched and pending deployments on six continents, Via and ViaVan have provided more than 80 million rides to date. For more information, visit www.viavan.com.