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Taxi Times International - August 2015 - Deutsch

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MOBILITY SUPPORT

MOBILITY SUPPORT MOBILITY SUPPORT FACTS ABOUT FLEXTUR The ‘Flextur’-concept was developed in 2012 by one of the six public traffic operators in Denmark, Nordjyllands Trafiksselskab. Flextur passengers tend to be older. The age group 60–99 makes up about 60 % of the passengers. THE SUBSIDISED TAXI HOME In Denmark, the ‘Flextur’-concept offers all citizens – including those with mobility-handicaps – the best of two worlds, taxi and bus. It’s controversial: the taxi trade would like to be more involved. In Denmark’s rural areas, more and more scheduled bus routes are eliminated. Many elderly citizens feel the loss, since they rely heavily on the public transport network to visit friends and relatives, go shopping and participate in social events. In some communities, volunteers initiate private ridesharing. In others, the municipality offers alternative means of public transport. One of these In Denmark’s rural areas the alternative to public transport is ‘Flextur’, short for ‘a flexible (and cost-effective) trip.’ more widespread new public transport concepts is ‘Flextur’, short for ‘a flexible (and cost-effective) trip.’ RIDESHARING AND DETOURS Planning director at FlexDanmark, organizer of the majority of Danish public transport, Niels Tvilling Larsen, describes the new concept; “Flextur is no ordinary bus trip. You are picked up at your doorstep, in SOCIAL TRANSPORTATION IN THE NORDIC COUNTRIES Public transportation for those who most need it (out-patients, schoolchildren, the elderly and those with mobility handicaps) is a cornerstone in the Nordic care system. In Denmark six independent regional traffic operators administer all public transportation. In cooperation with regions and municipalities, they are responsible for coherent public transportation for all citizens. Through a common operational entity, FlexDanmark, the six traffic operators handle contract transport of patients, people and schoolchildren – usually called ‘Flextrafik’. Through a nationwide call-center FlexDanmark’s 120 employees handle bookings, traffic planning and dispatch of the Flextrafik-trips for the six regional traffic operators. Flextrafik-trips are coordinated based the theatre, at the gym, the cinema or anywhere else, and driven back home again. You book Flextur to take you at a time you choose. There is no schedule. Local taxis and vehicles for people with mobility handicaps operate in Flextur. It is not an ordinary taxi service, since you often share a ride with others who are going the same way. Which means that detours en route may occur, but all passengers pay only for on geographical knowledge of start and destination, which type of service the users are entitled to and the cost of operating a vehicle. Drivers and taxi companies hired by each of the six traffic operators carry out the trips. Similar organisations and operational set-ups are found throughout the Nordic region: ‘Färdtjänst’ in Sweden, ‘NISSY’ in Norway and ‘KELA’ in Finland. PHOTO: Thomas Brinch a pre-calculated distance between their own pick-up and drop-off locations. Flextur operates between 06.00 and midnight every day and trips must be booked at least two hours in advance.” FLEXTUR OR NO BUS AT ALL Counsellor Gitte Willumsen, who chaired the Elderly- and Public Health Committee in Silkeborg Municipality (on rural Jutland), when Flextur was launched in 2012, says, ”Our scheduled bus service does not cover the entire municipality. We have been cutting back on these services. Flextur is a good solution if the alternative is no bus at all. Moreover, if the trips are not booked and no trip is made, Silkeborg municipality has no expenses. A single Flextur may include both a regional hospital patient, a local person with mobility handicaps and a citizen on a pleasure trip.” After two years’ operation national politicians are beginning to worry about the economic rationale behind Flextur: municipalities may have, in their pursuit for alternative, cheaper, public transport, launched ‘a monster’ that could prove counter-productive. Payments for Flextur trips may offset the money saved in cutting back on ordinary bus routes, should the door-todoor service become too popular, critics say. UNFAIR COMPETITION Meanwhile, taxi companies are wary of unfair competition. In Denmark minibus and minivan owners may apply for a special Carsten Aarestrup, CEO at 4×48 TaxiNord: “Taxi is in essence squeezed out of the public contract business.“ A study has shown a savings potential up to 20% of the actual transportation costs. authorization to offer public contract transport. In the eyes of the taxi trade, however, by doing this, the authorities have created a cheap supply of vehicles bypassing the taxi companies. Carsten Aarestrup, CEO at 4×48 Taxi-Nord, the 2nd largest taxi operator in Denmark with about 1.200 drivers and 650 taxicabs is adamant: “When every Joe and his cousin who own a minivan can operate a municipal traffic service, taxi is in essence squeezed out of the public contract business. Sure, we carry out the Flextur trips that we get, but since our higher costs reflect our bigger overhead, we are always last in line when Flextur trips are dispatched, meaning that we get trips late in the evening and to the most remote areas. Off course our overhead is higher; we run a modern organization, manned around the clock, honouring our 24/7 taxi service obligation.” TAXI DISPATCH MORE EFFICIENT Add to this, that many similar systems in the Nordic countries use governmentowned and –operated coordinating centres. The taxi industry claims it is much better at handling coordination and dispatching at lower investment costs. Taxi companies in Scandinavia have a long history of traffic planning and operational dispatch through technically advanced IT-tools built on decades of practical experience in optimising resources in highly dynamic 24/7 urban and rural environments. A recent study by independent consultancy COWI, Some facts: › Door-to-door service › Runs every day between 06.00 and midnight. › Trips must be booked at least 2 hours before departure. › Customers receive an exact pickup time when booking. Departure time can vary between 15 minutes before and 45 minutes after the given booking time. › The customer price is Dkr. 7.00 (1 Euro) per kilometre, which compares to half the price of a regular taxi. The ride may be shared, so minor detours may occur, but customers pay only for their distance travelled. › The system works on a cash onlybasis; fares must be paid at the start of the trip. No bank- or credit cards. analysing actual social trips (out-patients, people with mobility handicaps, schoolchildren) in five neighbouring municipalities in the greater Copenhagen area, has shown a savings potential up to 20% of the actual transportation costs. The study used a traffic-planning tool developed by the Danish manufacturer of ITS solutions, Finn Frogne A/S. The tool is developed for taxi and in use in most of the major taxi companies throughout Scandinavia. Simulations of actual performed trips (17.000 trips during a two-week period) showed improvements due to better cross-border and cross-patient coordination, less idle time through better trip planning, better vehicle combination (minivan, taxi, minibus, sedan, combi), major fuel/ CO2 savings and improved last-minute dispatch. The latter a taxi-speciality. Something rotten in the state of Denmark, as Shakespeare wrote, or rather something just right for everyone? The Flextur concept divides a great many people. tbr 12 TAXI AUGUST / 2015 13

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