RushOwl Unifying Fixed-Route and On-Demand Shuttle Bus Services

Those who always arrive late are often warned that their career prospects could be well down the drain or they may be seen as clinging to their last remaining territory of their career pathways. Certainly, the habit of being late all the time will damage your career if you don’t change it. And while the late public transport or a bus full of people aren’t going to be doing you any favour of making an auspicious appearance at your office, the emergence of a dynamically routed and timely transit is where the magic is.

When RushOwl started in 2019, little by little it brought commuters one step closer to enjoying a finer and more sustainable bus-pooling experience in Singapore. And this was attained through a tech-enabled on-demand type of transportation service described as ‘Microtransit’.

Although it might seem like Microtransit is a 21st century phenomenon, the ability to request transit from a few taps of the smartphone may be helping a lot as we know and redefines what convenient transport means in Singapore.

Compared to fixed and scheduled bus services, on-demand RushOwl can do a lot more than just picking up and dropping off commuters. Its automated platform takes into account specific rider-needs based on their profiles and can field demands in real-time, as well as integrate scheduled trip requests simultaneously.

Throughout this article we will explore how RushOwl’s on-demand transport is working differently from the traditional public transit and what to expect when RushOwl complements the two to further usher in a new era of modern Microtransit through a supporting structure around which mobility solutions can be built.

Singapore’s Transport Scene

Traditional public transport has been under strain over the past years in Singapore. Operating expenses and mileage by these regular bus services are increasing while ridership is declining due to other novel and nimble options that are surging in Singapore. That is why the Land Transport Authority (LTA) took to launching an On-Demand Public Bus (ODPB) trial somewhere between December 2018 and June 2019.

While only effective for 6 months, it had provided insights into the feasibility of the ODPB concept. Two things were observed here. Firstly, compared to fixed and scheduled bus services, Singaporeans were in favour of the ODPB concept. Secondly, mileage and gas emission were observed to be reduced by 18% during the whole trial.

These facts mean that on-demand public transport is perceived as promising new additions to the existing solutions to offer more direct trips, reduce the number of transfers made by commuters, and provide a more cost-effective service at the same time - a total win-win.

You may be wondering then why LTA did not go on to extend the service. Well, the answer is obviously in the high software development cost. It is expected to become more feasible only in the future when the efficiency of algorithms improves and technology enables the deployment of unmanned vehicles.

Until that becomes a reality, what then can we expect from the transport scene? The answer is: Microtransit.

What is Microtransit and how different is it from mass transit?

In Singapore, the definition of Microtransit has been a privately or publicly operated service that uses buses, vans, bikes, and other vehicles to provide pooled, on-demand or dynamically scheduled services. Mass transit, on the other hand, is a service that uses such vehicles (and light rail, on top of that) to operate on a predetermined route according to a predetermined schedule.

In a general sense, Microtransit provides better coverage in first and last mile services, or more frequent trips at certain times of the day when mass transit is not available. It is also more flexible in that it is truly designed around the passenger demand - not a supply that forces demand through specific corridors.

Features wise, Microtransit seems to carry it off with its service built on a digital network, providing a more convenient and seamless booking experience. Additionally, by using app-based reservations, Microtransit has the ability to connect people through scheduling updates in real-time, integrated timetables and flexible pick-up and drop-off locations, thus guaranteeing a seated trip with a superior ride experience.

Now, this seems attractive as people want to see the new concept behind our transport system as more and more elements of our lives become automated. This could mean instant gratification and decline in patience for Singaporeans who choose Microtransit over mass transit.

What is the future for Singapore’s transit?

RushOwl - one that prioritises digitalisation, efficiency and savings - has been perceived as one of the more exciting transits belonging to the future transport network. It aims at unifying fixed-route and on-demand shuttle bus services to greatly magnify the benefits and outweighs current transit mode choices.

An improvement on the status quo is the launch of the region-to-region service that operates from Monday to Friday and at fixed timings in the morning and evening. Certainly, this is not only a means to improve the overall convenience of the service, but also another major modal shift in regard to contributing to increased mobility and across-board-optimisation.

And since the advent of the fixed-routes and on-demand services with RushOwl, our cities have seen brighter days - stuff happens, things go wrong, but you can easily figure out how to arrive at work in a timely manner.


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