Improving the lives of families in residential neighborhoods

Inflexible or infrequent public transport in suburban and rural areas presents significant challenges for both families and the environment. Shared demand-responsive shuttles allow young people to travel safely and independently, offering a sustainable alternative to car ownership and an opportunity to change attitudes to transport among this key demographic.

Unless they live in urban areas well-served by public transport, families must frequently own at least one car. Most parents typically spend several hours a week driving children to after-school and social activities or work, increasing the number of cars on the roads.

The British Youth Council (BYC) believes, “Without access to regular, affordable bus services, young people can be isolated from friends, education, and work opportunities.” They warn those who cannot drive are, “severely disadvantaged by a lack of sustainable transport options,” and that transport has a huge impact on life opportunities through education.

Therefore, there is a need for safe, reliable, multiple-occupancy transport that young people can use independently once old enough. One solution is flexible on-demand shuttles. Users book a ride through the app, which provides accurate pick-up time and location, and estimated arrival time.

Young people represent a great opportunity for demand-responsive transit (DRT) since digital natives are comfortable ordering personalized services via smartphones. Also, as early adopters and active online community builders, they encourage uptake among friends and family.  

Growing awareness of environmental issues among young people also means we now have a unique opportunity to change attitudes and behavior and effect real change. However, sustainable solutions need to be in place before this generation of future decision-makers has the economic power to buy a car. According to the BYC, “The experience and habits young people develop now will influence their attitude and use of travel in the future.”

DRT shuttles not only reduce the burden for families and make young people less dependent on others. Sharing public transport with a diverse range of people and experiencing the world first-hand also helps them develop as individuals, rather than just interacting with homogenous peer groups or through screens.

Shotl On-demand Shuttles also offer anxious parents peace of mind as a shared account can be used to track the progress of a child’s ride. Obviously, the implications for privacy make this is a personal decision.  

Everywhere Sholt has launched services, young people come on board–in both senses–from day one. In a Finnish project connecting the town of Haukipudas with the city of Oulu, 90% of rides are booked through the app, compared with the average of 75%, indicating high demand from young users. In Vallirana, Barcelona, students report significant reductions in travel time, increased flexibility and high levels of satisfaction from using DRT. Therefore, transport policies and solutions must continue to be developed to address the needs of this demographic.     

As the BYC puts it, “Young people may be 20% of the population*, but they are 100% of the future, and the future use of transport.”

*Approx. figure for England and Wales, 2011 Census

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