Customer story

Boosting microtransit uptake across Norway

Goal

Help transform a public transit agency into a mobility company, by providing exceptional micro-transit solutions across Norway.

Overview

Spare initially started working with Kolumbus, one of the largest transit agencies in Norway, to provide nimble microtransit services across Norway. Spare worked with Kolumbus and digital design agency Geta to launch the “HentMeg” service (“Pick me up”) in the town of Sauda. The service was the first fully on-demand public transit service in Scandinavia, and is seen by Kolumbus as a pivotal part of the region’s future public transport services strategy.

Following the succes of its initial launch, four additional HentMeg services have been introduced in the communities of Bø (in partnership with the Farte agency), Kongsberg (Brakar), Odda (Skyss) and Bodø (Nordland). Inefficient fixed-route lines have been replaced by customized demand-response systems powered by the flexible Spare Open API.

Challenges

  • All five communities have low population densities, which has made it difficult for Kolumbus to provide efficient and cost-effective transit. Most of the fixed routes in these locations had headways of around 45 minutes.
  • Most of the communities have an aging population, which creates challenges when replacing a traditional timetabled system with an on-demand technology-based solution.
"This is a pilot, but there is no doubt that we want to extend the service to other areas. In so doing, Kolumbus will no longer be a public transit agency – we will become a mobility provider."
Grethe SkundbergDirector of Communications, Kolumbus

Solution

To identify the best locations for deploying microtransit in Norway, Kolumbus examined detailed simulation results in Spare Realize, Spare’s dedicated demand modeling platform. This highlighted Sauda as a prime candidate for replacing fixed-route bus lines with HentMeg.

The vast improvements HentMeg had on service quality and operational costs in Sauda prompted Kolumbus to expand coverage to Bø and Kongsberg. Two additional services are launching in rural Odda and much larger Bodø - which marks Spare’s first foray into the Arctic Circle!

The Spare Open API has been critical to Kolumbus’ success in continually growing its services. Thanks to the flexibility and ease of use of the Open API, Kolumbus was able to build the powerful Spare Engine directly into its own trip planning and booking application.

Thanks to the rapid growth of its microtransit services, Kolumbus has transitioned from a traditional transit agency into a forward-looking mobility champion. It sets the bar high for what can be achieved in low-density and rural areas around Scandinavia.

"When older people choose to book online, it really tells us how simple and user-friendly our solution is."
Audun M. SolheimStrategy Manager, Kolumbus

Results

Since launching in Sauda, the HentMeg service has experienced a 26% boost in ridership, thanks to an impressive 3.5 boardings per vehicle hour. Average waiting times have dropped to 7 minutes, down from 1 hour in the former fixed-route service. Over two-thirds of trips are pooled in Bø and Kongsberg, which not only increases operational efficiency but also improves the sense of community in the towns.