Conurbations such as Hamburg have well-developed public transport systems. But especially on the outskirts, it is often too far to the next stop. A gap that is now closing.

Challenge: Public transport needs to start right at your door

The acceptance of public transport systems is not just a matter of timetable and routes. It is also about comfort. Motivating people use public transport instead of driving their own cars, will call for solutions that do not come with substantial disadvantages.

What is missing in many places, is a possibility to be picked up right in front of the house and be taken as close as possible to the actual destination. A solution such as a convenient shuttle that comes at the touch of a button to bridge the last mile from or to the bus or train stop.

Solution: Shuttle service from and to the bus or train stop

IOKI is a German abbreviation for Input Output Artificial Intelligence. The Deutsche Bahn subsidiary is set out to offer intelligent mobility services in close cooperation with cities and communities. IOKI does not provide an alternative to local public transport, but is meant to complement it intelligently.

The service is based on shared electric taxis. Their design already indicates that they are made by the same manufacturer, who also produces the famous London taxis. They have six seats and provide ample space for luggage. In addition, they are equipped with a ramp that allows barrier-free access with a stroller or wheelchair.

The shuttle service of IOKI is available on demand and can be called via a smartphone app. The system always informs the driver about the best route and displays it on a screen. An intelligent algorithm automatically bundles passengers with similar routes into carpools for joint transportation. In this way, an optimal utilization of the vehicles and optimal route guidance are achieved, while waiting times are kept to a minimum.

The shuttle service focuses on peripheral districts, where the public transport network is rather thin, often requiring long walks to reach the next stop. In addition, the service is ideal for smaller cities where it is not economical to serve a conventional route network with large buses. In rural areas too, the service can make sense as a supplement to existing public transport – for example, to bridge the last mile from the station to the destination.

Potential: Hamburg serves as an urban pilot project

The first urban use of the IOKI concept was started in July 2018 in the Hamburg districts of Lurup and Osdorf. In the autumn of 2019 Billbrook will be added. This project is realized in cooperation with the transport Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein GmbH. IOKI Hamburg is also the winner of the German Mobility Award 2019.

The service can be booked 24/7 via the IOKI Hamburg App. The customer logs in via the app and enters his starting location and destination. The app shows when a vehicle will be available to take him from any address to a train or bus stop within the service area – and vice versa. It stops at underground and S-Bahn stations as well as bus stops from where it drives to destinations outside the service of the public transport system. Payment can be made directly via the app or with conventional bus/train tickets.

The IOKI Shuttle operates under a bus concession and is fully integrated into the existing offer of the Hamburg transit authority (HVV). The aim of the service is to strengthen public transport in the Hamburg area and reduce passenger car traffic. Within the aforementioned districts, additional stops were set up at intervals of not more than 200 meters. In this way, the area is optimally covered and the existing bus and train services are meaningfully supplemented.

One of the next steps will be the even deeper integration of the IOKI shuttle in the HVV. For example, it is planned to show the customer the next public transport connections directly in the app when exiting.

As of September 2019

in Numbers

on-demand shuttles
seats and barrier-free access
Passengers since July 2018
operation without interruption


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