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Using demand-responsive transport for social and health care rides saves money

The new type of on-call public transport offers a cost-effective way of organising social and health care rides in accordance with the Social Welfare Act, Act on Services and Assistance for the Disabled, and the social insurance legislation. The demand-responsive transport service combines trips automatically and takes residents from door to door, regardless of age or condition. In Riihimäki and Uusikaupunki, for example, many elderly or disabled residents with poor mobility have used the demand-responsive transport service and would recommend it to others.

By using the same capacity to transport different groups of customers, more people can be transported for the same amount of money and mobility will be improved for everyone on an equal footing.

By directing social and health care rides and their funding to demand-responsive transport, public transport can be revived, especially in small towns and sparsely populated areas, and alternatives to private cars can be offered.

Wellbeing services counties, municipalities and competent public transport authorities should therefore work together to buy enough traffic for demand-responsive transport services. This would reduce the number of travel rights to be granted and, thanks to efficient pooling, the unit cost of trips would fall. Since demand-responsive transport is based on the purchase of fixed services within a specific area, the availability and reliability of rides in more remote areas would improve compared to the current social and health care rides. As little as 10-25% of the money spent on social and health care rides would suffice to multiply the supply of demand-responsive transport in Finland.

Matkahuolto’s Trips and Tickets app could also be used to make efficient use of connected mobility for social and health care rides. Some long taxi trips can be converted into a combination of demand-responsive transport/taxi and regular public transport.

Simulation helps to plan

Simulations of the combination of demand-responsive transport and social and health care rides have been carried out in Lapua, the Hämeenlinna region, Rauma and the Kaustinen region, among others. Simulations have shown that for the same amount of money currently spent on social and health care rides, it is possible to make many more trips if sufficient demand-responsive transport services are provided and social and health care customers are directed to use them. This would also allow public transport to be provided for groups such as young people and others without cars.

In 2021, three demand-responsive transport scenarios of different sizes were simulated in Rauma. The current 50 driving hours reserved for social and health care rides would be enough to transport not only social and health care customers, but also a large number of other passengers. It would be possible to almost double the driving hours (92 h) and still keep the net cost at the current level if half of the new demand-responsive transport trips (green part of the bar) were made. The unit cost of social and health care rides would fall from the current 17 euros to 9-11 euros per trip. Read more about the simulation in Rauma.

In late 2021, four demand-responsive transport scenarios were simulated in the Kaustinen region. At the current cost level, it would be possible to finance up to 36 driving hours of demand-responsive transport for two regions if half of the new demand-responsive transport trips (green part of the bar) were made. The unit cost of social and health care rides could fall from the current 34 euros to 30 euros per trip.

See also the other simulation results:

Using open DRT for paratransit service saves money

Demand responsive transport (DRT) uses the same vehicle capacity for trips by different customers, pooling and routing transports efficiently.
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