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Business dimensions in developing the market for Flexible Transport Services (FTS)
Lookup NU author(s)
Dr Corinne Mulley
Professor John Nelson
Dr Mark Smith
Mulley C, Nelson JD, Smith M
Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)
19th Annual Polis Conference
Year of Conference
2-3 December 2003
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The scope of CONNECT is Flexible Transport Services (FTS). This term covers the spectrum between (but does not include), on the one hand conventional fixed line transport, and on the other hand own-account non-shared taxi services. This embraces a range of solutions including: local bus routes with some flexibility, Demand Responsive Transport, special needs transport, community transport, shared taxis and car pooling, car sharing and organised lift giving. Logistics, which are the ancillary business of the passenger services are included and integrated within the term "user" in this project. Flexible transport means that the service is adapted towards the expressed need of the user for the individual trip. This means that the mobility service has some degree of freedom in at least one of the three key dimensions: route, timing and vehicle/facility/driver assignment. The service is collective in the sense that it can have multiple users (even if on occasions there may be only one). The service therefore is capable of taking into account the needs of its diverse users, although for reasons of efficiency or effectiveness it may choose to assign customers to different services. Typically, the service manager aims to balance meeting the user needs and optimising the resource use. This paper is reporting the progress so far in the CONNECT project on the development of the business case for FTS. The purpose of focusing the research on the business development aspects of the FTS is to generate and formalise the necessary knowledge to provide valuable guidelines and recommendations from a multidisciplinary point of view. The idea is to support the operators of the FTS to ensure that their business become more successful today and meets the challenges of tomorrow. To this end, preliminary research on the state of the business development in the FTS sector has been carried out. Business development is, of course, a wide concept that can be tackled from different perspectives. The approach that has been chosen is a multidisciplinary perspective that addresses the situation from three different points of view, all of them highly inter-related. The first aspect to consider when talking about business development is the business model that the current FTS are adopting, understanding by business model all the factors involved in the way that the companies generate revenues. Although it may seem that the business model constitutes itself the core goal of the business development, the general environment is not as simple as that. There are two other aspects that can not be separated from the business models as they are complementary. This is the case of the organisational issues and the regulatory framework aspects. When trying to define which is the optimal business model that may rule the sucessful development of a FTS, it is clear the way the service operation is organised is crucial in the business model that the operator of the service has adopted. The business development that characterises the service is deeply influenced by the current model of organization: Public-Private Partnership, Public-Public Partnership or any other current model of partnership involving public, semi-public and private organizations. Finally, the last but not the least important aspect of the business development concept is the regulatory framework associated to any business. Currently, transport regulations, legal issues and legal aspects are still quite heterogeneous across Europe. The objective of the business development study carried out within CONNECT framework is to promote harmonization and interoperability, looking for solutions to by-pass existing barriers. This work is still on-going and will be available on the CONNECT project website: www.flexibletransport.com as it becomes available.
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