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Evaluation of the project

Launched respectively on 8 February and 8 March 2021 as part of the NAVAJO pilot project, the TEC on demand and Autonom-e services reached the end of their test phase in August 2021, leaving room for the assessment and development prospects of these two services on the Walloon territory.

 

A project impacted by the health crisis

 

The NAVAJO pilot project, initiated by the city of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, which took advantage of the "Intelligent Territory" call for innovative projects launched by Digital Wallonia to finance two new and innovative sustainable mobility solutions, took place in the midst of a health crisis.

 

During this period, workers and students were not very present in Louvain-la-Neuve, thus greatly reducing the number of people likely to test the two new mobility solutions, TEC on demand and Autonom-e, during the first months of their test phase.

 

Thus, the ridership of TEC on demand has gradually increased, with a real take-off from June 2021. In total, some 2,400 people tested the service during the 7 months of the test phase, which represents an average of 75 to 80 people per week.

 

Some 1,800 people also tested the Autonom-e autonomous shuttle during the 6 months of testing, which is below the estimates of 2,400 passengers in the low scenario and 6,000 in the medium scenario.

 

Nevertheless, and despite the health context which required numerous adaptations, the NAVAJO pilot project made it possible to test these two innovative mobility solutions; a first in Wallonia and even in Europe with the crossing of the traffic light intersection with adaptive phases by the autonomous shuttle.

 

Lessons learned and perspectives

 

The experience of an autonomous shuttle in an open environment has allowed the city of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve and the TEC to draw many lessons, starting with those concerning the technology of the shuttle itself, which requires further development in order to consider offering a reliable and affordable mobility service in a current context. It also became clear that the deployment of such a service requires close collaboration between various actors, including the municipalities and the Region (road and environmental management), the Police (compliance with traffic regulations, road safety) and the TEC (implementation and operation of the service).

 

The test phase of the TEC on-demand service (from 8/02/2021 to 31/08/2021) revealed difficulties in integrating data from different universes and interfacing with payment systems. Nevertheless, the data collected was insufficient to draw any real conclusions; it was therefore decided to extend the circulation of the TEC on-demand service by one year, thanks to the support and funding of the Walloon Minister of Mobility, Philippe HENRY.

 

From the start of this extension, which runs until 31/08/2022, the TEC on demand service has seen a sharp increase in ridership, with an average of 200 journeys per week in September. This "saturation" of the service shows the limits of the concept and the technology, and allows us to measure them.

 

Various actions are underway (fares, optimisation of the transport algorithm, analysis of areas and periods of high/low demand, etc.) in order to be able to propose to the Minister of Mobility, Philippe HENRY, a complete and cross-sectoral evaluation of the TEC on-demand service and thus envisage its possible deployment in other parts of Wallonia in the medium term at the end of this extension. In this respect, the City of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve is a candidate to participate in the perpetuation of a future TEC on demand service throughout its territory.

 

Whether it is for a transport-on-demand service or an autonomous shuttle service, the various players involved in the NAVAJO pilot project can now advise and provide the federal and regional authorities with information on these two mobility solutions and on the implementation of new pilot projects that will provide real added value compared to the projects already being carried out in Belgium or elsewhere.

 

 

The evaluation report of the project is available for download via this link

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