Olfen: On-demand school transport

In Olfen, a system has been developed that aligns the operation of school and public buses with requirements: Based on the passengers embarking, the system calculates the shortest route just-in-time in order to service the required bus stops. By using this new route optimisation, the driving distance of Olfen school buses has been reduced by around 40 per cent, saving fuel, time and money.

Who doesn’t know it – the memory of the school bell ringing, hordes of pupils flowing out of the school building, running to the train, jumping onto bicycles or trying frantically to get the best seats on the school bus. Things look much different in many places today, because due to greatly varying class times, the time most pupils’ leave school is spread out across the entire afternoon. Furthermore, due to demographic change in future, a decline in the number of pupils is to be expected. In order to meet the resulting requirements for mobility services, new solutions are required, which also rely increasingly on the use of modern information and communication technologies, as is the case in Olfen for example.

Engine for progress:

  • buses have been able to reduce mileage by 40 %
  • saving an entire school bus
  • adaptation to the challenges of demographic change
  • saves time and money and protects the environment
  • increased cost transparency for school bus transport

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Photo: Milena Schlösser

A pilot project catches on

In 2013 in Olfen, a new mobility concept for travelling by school bus was developed and successfully implemented for 200 students: Demand-oriented route operation. Based on the pupils who have just embarked, the routes are calculated and optimised just-in-time using an App. This is made possible by a special pupil identification card, which stores geo-referenced information on the respectively required destinations. Upon embarking, the pupil IDs are scanned and the software then calculates the best route for transporting all passengers to the desired bus stops. The software calculates the ideal route outside of fixed service routes; a completely new concept.

On-demand orientation saves time and money

By using this new route optimisation, the driving distance of Olfen school buses has been reduced by around 40 per cent, thereby saving fuel, time and money. Due to higher capacity utilisation, it has even been possible to completely eliminate one of the three buses previously required.

Based on this great success in Olfen, in addition to the school bus, a public bus was also converted to demand-oriented route planning. In addition to free route planning, the citizens benefit from the option of choosing either the departure or destination point outside of a conventional bus stop.

Demand-based school transport services in Olfen project video (German)

Video: KlimaExpo.NRW

Photo: Stadt Olfen

“In times of demographic change, each municipality has to face the problem of collecting a decreasing number of students in a fixed area. With our on-demand school transport, we save both kilometres and CO2 every day and also get pupils home quicker.”

Anna Finke, City of Olfen

Partners and sponsors

  • Stadt Olfen
  • Fachbereich Bus (ZVM Bus)
  • Regionalverkehr Münsterland GmbH (RVM)
  • Kreis Coesfeld
  • blue:bizz edv Systemhaus GmbH