Chauffeur Distribution in a RUF Dualmode System


Palle R Jensen

Public transport is an important part of a dualmode system. Using public transport as the start of a system solves the chicken-and-egg problem because the operating company will finance both the guideway and the vehicles.

It can be done very simple in the beginning. If instead of building an expensive Light Rail line a RUF line is built, the result will be better because the frequency is higher, the comfort is higher and the personal security is better (single seats, everyone with its own door). The costs will be lower because a modular RUF guideway requires no levelling of the ground and it takes very little area. Also the vehicles are smaller, so the cost per seat will be lower.

The next phase will be to use the dualmode principle to attract more users. It can be done by offering a combination of automated guideway transport and dial-a-bus service. The bus can be one, two or three maxi-rufs coupled together to form an articulated bus driven by one chauffeur while using the roads.

The function is the following:

1)       A customer calls the system and ask for transport.

If he uses the telephone, the operator will know the phone number of the calling person and consequently the address (this is normal praxis when ordering a taxi in Copenhagen). The customer can then dial the phone number of the destination and the system will know all it needs to give the customer an attractive offer. If the Internet is used, the same functions can be performed with a more attractive interface, but not as fast if we include all the time the browser uses to set up the interface.

2)       The system calculates what it can offer using dynamic route planning.

Some customers who use the system often have accepted to be ”stand by”. It means that the system can give them a call and tell them that within a certain time limit there will be a possibility for transport.

3)       The customer will receive several optional solutions to his transport demand.

One solution is the attractive door-to-door transport without transfer and very fast pickup. The waiting time is not so critical, because it takes place in his home and he will receive a short dual-ring signal on the phone when the maxi is 30 seconds away.

Other solutions are cheaper because if the customer is not in a hurry it might be OK to wait a little longer and to transfer during the trip. If he also doesn’t mind to walk to a pickup place, he is offered the che cheapest solution.

4)       He now decides what he wants and select one of the options.

A maxi-ruf (or 2 or 3) starts with a chauffeur from the station. The route has been planned according to the demand (including those passengers who are going from the station to a destination in the local area) plus the operators experience with spontaneous demand from street level. When arriving at the (new) station the passengers may consist of several categories. Some passengers have used it almost as a taxi. Some use it as a bus and some use it as a jitney (a bus you can enter at random).

In a dualmode system where the backbone is a network of automated guideways, it is not so critical which of the 3-4 stations nearest to your origin you are brought to. The travel time will only differ with a few minutes. This means that a customer who sees a maxi will often not worry about where it is going. He knows that it will bring him to the ”system”. From there he can choose the right direction. On the other hand the maxi can have a color code so that the customers know which of the max 4 possible stations it is going to. A 4-sided rotatable sign at the front can indicate its destination. The colors have the same meening all over the network. The color blue could mean that this maxi is going to the station placed at the northern end of the area surrounded by the guideway network. This way it would be very easy to use the maxi from street level.

The seats in a maxi are separated and screened from the others. This opens up for a lot of new possibilities compared to a normal bus:

a)       Security is high. No unwanted person will be able to take a seat next to you.

b)       Flexible fares are possible. One seat may cost more to use, but also offer more luxury.

c)       The air flow can be restricted, so that you don’t have to share microorganisms with other passengers.

The disadvantage is, that the entry and exit may have to take place from the wrong side. Normally the system will be able to handle this problem since the operator knows where the passengers want to get off. If a passenger wants to get off in a very crowded street, he will be placed in the right side. Another possibility is to let the maxi stop in such a way that the rear end protects the left side of the maxi. Since the maxi is more slender than a normal bus, this maneuvre will not disturb the traffic more than a normal bus.

Every seat in a maxi has its own door. This is a big advantage for elderly people and it also means that the average speed of the maxi is higher than for a bus. This means that a chauffeur can handle many passengers every hour.

Will there be a problem with chauffeurs in this scheme?

To evaluate this, let us look at an example:

A network has a mesh size of 5 x 5 km (3 x 3 miles). The area surrounded by guideways is 25 square km. If the population density is 1000 per square km it means that 25,000 people live in this area. If half of them today have a transport demand of 25 km per day and we suggest that the maxi will only cover 30% (the projected growth in traffic over the next 20 years in Copenhagen), it means that 25,000 x 0.5 x 0.3 x 25 = 100,000 km will be driven by these people every day. A typical trip might be 12 km long. On average 8 km will be on the guideway and 4 km will be on road. If 30% of the travel is using the roads it means 30,000 km driven in the local area by maxi every day. If an average trip through the local area is 8 km long and the average speed is 20 km/h it means that one trip from station to station takes 25 minutes. One chauffeur can deliver 2.5 trips per hour or 30 trips per day (one day counts as12 hours of rush hour). If the average size of a maxi-bus is 2 (two maxi-rufs coupled as an articulated bus), and the average occupation is 50% it means that one chauffeur can deliver 300 passenger trips per day. If an average passenger trip locally is 4 km long it means that one chauffeur can deliver 1,200 passenger km per day.

This means that 30,000/1,200 = approx. 25 chauffeurs are needed in this local area at the same time during rush hours. The operator will have to hire almost twice this amount in order to account for uneven traffic and holidays etc.

During rush hour, the local area will be served by 25 chauffeurs driving more than 50 maxi-rufs. Since there are 4 stations surrounding the area, a chauffeur will depart from any station every 25/25/4 = approx. 4 minutes.

In order for a chauffeur to be ready for departure at all times (on average) 4/(4+25) = 14% more chauffeurs are needed.

The arrival of a maxi will be at random so the waiting time for the chauffeur will be around 3 minutes. For the chauffeur this will be a pleasant pause every half hour.

In this calculation it is assumed that the chauffeur only drives in one local area. This is the best possible service for the customers since the chauffeur will get to know many of the regualr customers. The operator could improve efficiency if he let the chauffeur depart in other directions from the station. The chauffeur waiting times could be reduced.

What is the operating cost for such a service?

A normal bus is calculated to cost around $50 per hour. A maxi is smaller (even if 2 maxi-rufs are coupled together), so I calculate $40. One hour means 2 trips or 40 passengers (10 passengers delivered and 10 passengers collected per trip). This means that the passengers have to pay $1 in average to cover operating costs. This similar to a normal bus ticket, but a lot less than the cost of taking a taxi.

Since it is assumed that the maxi will represent a very high level of service and with a flexible fare structure, an average fare of $1 pr trip seems very reasonable.

The automated part of the trip will have lower operating costs and the speed will be higher. If the system from the start can cover its operating costs, it will create profit once the individual rufs are introduced.


Dualmode public transport in urban areas can become very attractive, fast and profitable.

The key to the succes is the possibility (unique for the RUF system) to have separate seats and therefore a flexible fare structure. Rapid Urban Flexible = RUF.


Last modified: November 01, 2000