The INNOAIR project is piloting different incentives to reduce car use: green corridors, congestion charging, low emission zones, etc. It also supports active mobility. And to ensure that everyone can access public transport in Sofia, its main and pioneering solution is on-demand green public transport.
This new service will better connect three peri-urban areas with the city centre, where connectivity had been lacking. The service can collect people close to their homes in less than 5 minutes and take them to the closest bus or train station. Users can book and pay for their journey through an online application, which is integrated into the public transportation management system.
Artificial intelligence was used to determine the optimal routes for the on-demand e-buses. The AI used both first-hand data (information/data from the Municipality, number of registered cars, presence of schools, hospitals, etc.) and secondary data collected in the field through urban walks with residents and other co-creative processes. It was determined that routes should stay fixed once set and that times of passage should be on demand.
Five pilot electric on-demand buses, each with a 20-person capacity, will begin a one-year trial in 2023. Under the trial, the citizens of Sofia will be able to use their annual public transportation pass (at no additional cost) or buy a single journey for less than 1 Euro. This pricing policy will enable people to afford the new service and will reward the use of public e-buses instead of cars.
Finally, INNOAIR developed a ‘Sofia Coin mobile app’ to encourage citizens to switch from cars to active modes such as walking, cycling, or using a scooter. The app measures the distance travelled and the emissions saved per trip and offers awards such as free tickets for public transport, electric scooters or public bicycle services, etc., thereby encouraging new behaviours. The app also feeds demand data into mainstream mobility infrastructure planning.