The mobility survey at the industrial zone Bierzo of Ponferrada, identified that approximately 73% of employees go to work by car. It was therefore necessary to find a way to convince employees to share their home-work trip and as a consequence encourage them to leave their cars at home.
Parties Involved in the Planning and Setting up of the Service:
- Regional Energy Agency Of Castile And León
- Energy Agency of Podravje
- Taxi Association of Ponferrada
- Ponferrada City Council
Flexitaxi is one of the mobility measures implemented in order to achieve this modal shift. It offers a more sustainable and economic alternative to the private car for the home-work trip, maintains the comfort of a taxi and has the immediate impact of reducing road users. Employees not only save money but they also get to work in a fast and efficient way, reducing their CO2 emissions and energy consumption.
Flexitaxi is a form of flexible transport that uses taxis instead of buses and requires that employees share their home-work trip. The measure was designed in order to meet the on-demand needs of the employees coming from areas of Ponferrada that are not well connected by public transport to the BIZ.
• Right from the start bring together the taxi association representatives and the public transport operator and financer in order to avoid conflicts.
• Carefully consider the needs of the employees in order that the service is attractive to them.
• Pay attention to the local and national transport legislation ensuring that the service is lawful.
• Involve the taxi association in the co-financing of the service even if this is small amounts.
• Carefully target your communication campaign and make use of both new and more traditional communication channels, i.e. social networks, twitter, internet, local newspapers, radios, posters, etc.
• Make use of free communication channels such as trade unions bulletins, posters within the companies, etc.
Like other types of flexible transport, Flexitaxi required a tool that allows the management and organisation of the service. This was obtained by adapting the existing online software of the Ponferrada Taxi Association (web and mobile phone tool) called "taxi to your demand" (http://www.flexitaxi.es/). The revised tool incorporates the new concept of sharing a taxi and recognises the industrial area of Bierzo as the only possible final destination. It allows the planning of routes and time schedules with the aim of having 4 employees per taxi. In addition, the tool provides statistics on the use of the service as well as reports on energy saving, enabling continued monitoring, evaluating and reporting of the initiative.
Employees wishing to make use of the service need first to register at the Mobility Office of Ponferrada so that their public transport card also includes the use of Flexitaxi. This serves as an identification method for the users and is necessary in order to avoid potential abuse of the service.
In order to avoid overlapping, duplication and competition with the existing public transport service the Flexitaxi routes cannot coincide with the routes of buses. Employees interested in using the service who live close to a bus line are advised to use the bus service and are able to register for the Flexitaxi initiative.
Currently the service is available during the peak hours when the majority of employees enter and leave the work place. This was decided for cost efficiency reasons based on the results of the mobility survey and following meetings with the companies.
An information and promotion campaign was carried out in order to attract users/employees. The campaign used different means of communication including social networks, twitter, radio spots, articles in local newspapers, a two week showcase demonstrating the service to the users, face to face meetings with companies and a lottery with an iPad as the main prize.
The results during the first week of operation following the promotion campaign were satisfactory. Therefore, it is expected that within the first year of the operation the number of registered users will arrive at 5% of the total employees in the BIZ.
The Council of Ponferrada has been really satisfied with the results and is considering extending the system to other industrial areas of its territory.