PubliCar is a fully flexible demand-responsive door to door minibus service in Switzerland, which can be booked via call centres. The scheme is seen as complement or as alternative to traditional public transport.
PubliCar is seen as one element to optimise the whole public transport system. In many cases the flexible scheme provides a basic service which covers larger areas. During peak hours this service is frequently augmented by traditional bus lines. PubliCar developed a franchising system that makes it possible to assign the service to regional or local private transport companies or private vehicle owners.
Users call a free number to order the services at the PubliCar call centre, which bundles demand where possible. The drivers of the minibuses are informed via GSM/SMS about the requested trips. Depending on the situation and complexity of the specific PubliCar service (e.g. served area and users, number of vehicles in an area), different disposition systems are in use. In the simplest case, the driver decides himself how to arrange a tour. In other cases the optimal route is calculated with a special software in the call centre.
The introduction of PublicCar was, amongst others, driven by the cancellation of some traditional bus routes with low demand that had less than 8 passengers or a cost recovery lower than 20% .>Furthermore PubliCar aimed at the integration of small settlements into the public transport network that were previously not or insufficiently served. In its design, the PubliCar scheme took experiences from a call-a-bus service in Northern Germany (AnrufBus-Leer) into account.
Stakeholders in the implementation and operation of the services are the operator PostAuto, as well as the government at federal and cantonal level, as funding source.
The service started in 1995 as pilot project. It proofed to be very successful and was continuously expanded. As the high satisfaction of the users and the positive assessment of the PubliCar scheme by the operator shows, the service is well established in Switzerland. Today it is available in 32 regions. It has been continuously expanded and optimised, taking into consideration specific regional requirements.
More information on this initiative on the NICHES website : www.niches-transport.org