For those who commute or enjoy hybrid working arrangements, it’s become clear that commuting has changed. People who travel to big cities for work have lost faith in the regular transport systems.
The trains are on strike more often than not, and when public transport is running, it’s often late and overcrowded. Post-pandemic people are not prepared to be treated like cattle, and subsequently, more commuters than ever are choosing to travel on demand.
In a broader context, car ownership is becoming less attractive; with the ULEZ scheme in London and the introduction of the 15-minute city concept elsewhere, not to mention the push towards carbon zero targets, car ownership is being replaced with car leasing and on-demand transportation.
On-Demand Transportation (ODT): What is it?
On-demand is possible thanks to technology. ODT means passengers can book their preferred mode of transport at a time and location convenient to them. Booking online using an app gives greater flexibility, providing a better experience for the commuter and the service provider.
It’s possible to book a taxi, minibus for 6-12 people or a scooter to collect you from home and take you to your destination. While it’s always been possible to book a minicab from the convenience of your sofa, competition aided by technology has brought the price to the consumer down.
Millennials and GenZ opt for ODT over regular public transport as companies like Bolt and Uber have used sophisticated marketing techniques to promote this commuting style over public transport. Competitive pricing keeps customers using ODT as their preferred option because public transport still needs to catch up.
The Rise of Microtransit: Explained
Microtransit is all about adapting to passenger needs, small changes that happen via an app to save time and money and to give customers a choice about how they wish to travel and how much they want to pay.
Microtransit apps can be a simple bus timetable, telling you when your next bus will depart, or private vehicle ride-sharing arrangements to an on-the-street scooter or pay-as-you-go bike hire.
It’s possible to hire a van or larger vehicle by the hour rather than rent a car for an entire day. Choosing microtransit options like Freenow over traditional commuting options feeds the need for an instant response.
Millennials and GenZ do not consider waiting for a train as a pleasure or standing at a bus stop a necessity but an inconvenience, and those with disposable income will always choose the fastest, most convenient route from their sofa to the office or night out.
The Future of Dial-a-Ride Services
There’s little doubt that technology has changed commuting. Most employees prefer a hybrid working arrangement to a full-time commute, meaning walking to the station or bus stop is inconvenient.
Dial-a-ride services are here to stay, and this might be a good thing in rural areas where public transport is scarce. Councils in remote regions could adopt a microtransit philosophy to save money.
Empty buses must be paid for, so if authorities adopted a dial-a-ride scenario (smart bus) and older commuters committed to the apps required, the combination could prove conducive to both parties by allowing passengers to choose their ride and bus providers to cancel services if they are not necessary.
Smart buses are already a feature in many rural places in America, making adoption in the UK inevitable. The smart bus service is not a publically funded operation and is unlikely to feature on the public transport system in the UK. The updated dial-a-ride service is coming; it’s only a matter of time.
On-Demand Taxis are the Way of the Future, Like It or Not
In London, black taxis are fighting a losing battle to remain supreme. The knights of the road didn’t take card payment until recently, and the lack of convenience and additional cost means black taxis rely on bad weather, tourists or day trippers to find their fares.
Choice makes on-demand cheaper; anyone using Uber or Bolt knows that if there are more drivers on the road and less passenger demand, the fares are comparable to public transport. With flexible working conditions, customers can choose to travel off-peak to take advantage of cheaper fares.
How App-Based Pick-Up and Drop-Off Options are Game-Changing for the Environment
Environmentally friendly app-based options are the way forward; the race to carbon neutrality in 2050 means commuters can choose a greener form of travelling.
Electric cars, scooters and taxis are the way forward, but paying for this upgrade is expensive – however, not adopting greener policies could have further reaching effects than a late bus or a train strike.
The effects of global warming mean we must look at all the options; if trading out a diesel or unleaded car for an electric version is not viable (even with the scrappage scheme), what else can you do?
The answer lies with how often you use your vehicle; having a stationary car outside your house is a luxury that is quickly becoming untenable. If you’re an older person who is no longer confident about driving, lift-sharing might be an option, and so is a smart bus.
Apps that tell you when your bus arrives mean more time at home. Online shopping makes staying at home more accessible. Food delivery services mean you get a pint of milk in minutes without leaving your desk.
Many delivery services are changing from petrol to electric vehicles at the request of their customers. The front runners are DPD and Amazon. Amazon announced they had invested 300 million pounds in electric transport, vans, HGVs and e-cargo bikes by the end of 2025.
For those who want a private vehicle but don’t want to invest (because of the fear of constantly changing regulations), the latest EV and hybrid EV industry statistics say over 1.6 million drivers lease cars and vans rather than buy them.
Change is happening whether we like it or not, and if you consider a new car can depreciate up to 40% (depending on the make) of its value the minute you drive away, leasing is looking more and more like good value, and EVs appear more palatable.