On-demand bus services

Posted by 38446 on 4 August 2023 in English. Last updated on 5 August 2023.

Today I came to think again about on-demand bus service areas. There is one mention on the OSM wiki: this explanation from Belgium, but I’m not sure if it really refers to a service area rather than a line with on-demand stops. The idea of the on-demand bus service area is that from one central stop a small bus will take you wherever you want to go, almost like a taxi, but only at certain times, and together with other passengers (if there are any). The concept has been quite common for some time in rural areas all over Europe. In my opinion, we could just draw the area, give it some tag so it is put down in the data that this rural area is generally accessible by public transport.

Mapper BroccoliB did so here, and his attempt was also what made me think about it again.

The reason I came across his edit was that my wife and I had a day off and used it for a bike ride through the sparsely-populated area north-east of Wolfsburg, just across the former border between West and East Germany. It was nice cycling along the Mittellandkanal - but I have to say that we are quite used to gravel tracks and have equipped our bikes with appropriate puncture-safe tyres. Some excellent pear trees along the road here. No traffic at all because of a road closure further south. When we came to the nearest larger village, we had to decide if we wanted to continue on the road in heavier traffic now or use a track running parallel. To our surprise (it wasn’t mapped as such yet), it had excellently smooth asphalt. For the way back we had opted for a bus line that also carries up to five bicycles (for free!). It’s really amazing what the land of Saxony-Anhalt with its limited resources and sparse population does for an attractive public transport. Lower Saxony could take a page from its book!

Location: 38486, Saxony-Anhalt, 38486, Germany


Comment from MatthiasMatthias on 5 August 2023 at 21:08

Hey. Interesting post. Are you writing about “Anruf Sammeltaxis” or MOIA? Even though technically counting as bus services, for me that’s nothing I would map. I understand OpenStreetMap to list things you can actually see out there, so no zones of operations like taxi, car/bike sharing our delivery services.

Comment from 38446 on 6 August 2023 at 05:13

Thanks for your response! Yes, I think it’s called Anrufsammeltaxi elsewhere in Germany. The thing is, of course we can (and do) map the bus stop that carries the timetable for this Rufbus. (That may be a difference to Moia, it does have a timetable.) Now having a bus stop mapped doesn’t really help if you don’t see where you can go from there. I appreciate there has to be some limit to what we map and “no zones of operation” is a good and simple rule. But on the other hand, just because this bus offers something that is actually better than an ordinary route, we can’t map it, that’s unsatisfactory for me.

A still different service is Flexo (here in Lower Saxony). It means that there are lots of bus stops in rural areas where you can start or end your journey, and there’s also timetable when the bus starts from the central stop. So in this case we can map all the small bus stops. But the Rufbus system doesn’t have those, they can just stop anywhere within their areas, at the predetermined times. Maybe you could argue that Moia is more similar to a taxi than the Rufbus/Anrufsammeltaxi because it’s independent of timetables and can’t be used with public transport tickets.

For the usage value of the pt data in osm (which has been much discussed, but I am convinced of it, as a visual type who likes to look at maps), I also find it a bit absurd to have school bus lines in the map that run twice a day, but no representation at all of the Rufbus/Anrufsammeltaxi networks.

But yes, I understand your objection, which I think effectively represents the status quo and the reason why it’s not done.

Comment from adreamy on 6 August 2023 at 07:20

How are you?
I’m relying on machine translation, so I’m not sure if I’ve understood your intentions correctly.
However, if I may add my two cents, I don’t think it makes sense to show inconsistent coverage on the map either. (I think it’s the same reason why you can’t show a taxi’s service area).
Nevertheless, I’m very interested to see how and up to what line this could be marked, as this type of bus service is also emerging in my country.
Maybe you could discuss this more extensively in the forum?

Comment from 38446 on 6 August 2023 at 11:54

Thank you for your encouragement! I am reluctant to take this to the forum because I feel I should first have a clearer idea of an actual suggestion.

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