Urban mobility is evolving faster than ever. With innovations such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS) allowing travellers to access different mobility services via a click of their smartphone, moving around a city has never been easier. However, this can only happen if the location information is readily available and accurate. When making a journey using different modes of transport, real-time geopositioning of users and vehicles plays a key role. And besides being needed for planning transport routes, it also allows for on-board information that informs passengers about disruptions.
Piloting makes perfect
The European GNSS Agency (GSA) advances the use of geolocation technologies to improve urban mobility through various initiatives. One of its key projects, GALILEO 4 Mobility, focuses specifically on GALILEO technology, the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) created by the EU. Starting in 2017, the project adopts GALILEO technology within a MaaS context, enhancing the continuity and ease of shared mobility services in urban environments. GALILEO 4 Mobility features a consortium of 11 partners, the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) is among them, and is coordinated by engineering company Pildo Labs. The core component of GALILEO 4 Mobility involves a series of pilots: the project is conducting demonstrations in and around Barcelona, Paris, and Thessaloniki. While different in execution, the pilots test and evaluate how mobility services can be improved by integrating GALILEO technology – from a taxi-sharing service in Thessaloniki, to a shared e-bike service in Paris, and the MaaS application in Barcelona.
Improving mobility in Barcelona
The last of the pilots began in February, and included a bus-on-demand pilot in Cervelló, a small town near Barcelona. This is a collaboration between Pildo and Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) and addresses the low usage of bus services in the area. During the pilot, a GALILEO-enabled bus complements the existing lines and routes according to demand. Using an app, citizens can reserve seats by indicating origin, destination, and time of desired trip. GALILEO technology provides users with a more precise positioning of the vehicle, and helps drivers to correctly execute the planned itinerary.
The pilot will provide valuable lessons to AMB. Insights will be used to validate the suitability of on-demand bus services for low density areas and – if the pilot gives positive results – the service could be deployed in many other territories, including those where it wasn’t economically viable before. GALILEO 4 Mobility was completed on 30 June, but the wider work continues. Pildo Labs recently launched project spin-off Nemi: a tool that commercialises developments made during the project enabling the operation of demand-responsive public transport services. Finally, in January GSA launched ARIADNA, a new project that to some extent can be considered as a natural continuation of Galileo 4 Mobility. It also promotes the benefits of deploying this technology in public transport and supports the creation of strategic partnerships between EGNSS and urban mobility/public transport actors.
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