Flexible Transport Services and ICT platform for Eco-Mobility (FLIPPER)

Published on: 07/06/2011

The overall objective of FLIPPER is the transfer of experience, knowledge and good practices about Flexible Transport Services (FTS) among different European Regions with the aim of increasing the social inclusion of disadvantaged citizens groups and/or areas, reducing energy consumptions and environmental impacts thus encouraging sustainable social/economic growth.

Throughout Europe the challenge of providing a cost effective integrated public transport system is seen as an essential prerequisite to reducing pollution and congestion whilst encouraging sustainable economic growth. The traditional fixed route services is ideal for clustered travel demand areas but the changing of habitation patterns and nature of work activities in today's society have created different mobility needs to which the conventional transport has become neither suited nor cost-effective.

In the last few years Flexible Transport Services (FTS) have proved to be an advantageous solution to the provision of public transport services. FTS are complementary to the conventional passenger transport and usually serve no scheduled mobility needs, either in low demand time periods and in weak demand areas. Given this flexibility, FTS are suitable to serve niche market customers and different citizens' groups (e.g. people with disabilities & the elderly, students, tourists, etc.), FTS usually operate with small size buses on flexible routes and scheduling, based on the citizens needs and requests (off-peak hours, low demand zones, disadvantaged citizens like elderly & people with disabilities, etc.) and include a range of different transport services:

  • Local buses on routes with some flexibility (routes, time, meeting points, etc);
  • Real Demand Responsive Transport Services;
  • Special customers transport;
  • Community Transport;
  • Shared taxis and car pooling, etc..
  • It is important to note that Flexible Services aim at reaching:
  • An increase of the mobility and of new trips;
  • A decrease in the use and necessity of a private car;
  • The provision of a local feeder/distributor to conventional transport;
  • an effective and cost effective mobility commuting possibilities both for established workers and for job-seekers.

Such a variety of flexible services and provision schemes for citizens and the different needs and/or characteristics of the urban/metropolitan areas also require a high-level co-ordination and flexibility which can be guaranteed only by the use of suitable Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions. These different services can be managed by a unique co-ordination centre ("Agency") which can ensure both the needed flexibility in the planning, operation and management of the concerned services and the supply of the requested, necessary information to the users. FLIPPER stems from the need of some partners who do not have experience in running FTS to assess their potential and how to integrate them in the overall Mobility and Transport policy. The project also takes into account the need of other partners, who already run FTS but lack a co-ordination centre (ICT platform) to be able to provide a more complete information to the citizens (unique number, information centre, web interface, etc.) and networking the different transport operators.

The partnership, starting from the service experience and ICT tools development gathered by some partners, will guarantee the transfer of know-how about FTS schemes and the "ICT platform" concept in different EU areas, and their strong promotion at European level. One of the project's main aims is the identification of good practices in the implementation of these types of services and systems and their dissemination amongst governmental bodies, research organisations, transport operators and private companies.

The project was submitted from Managing Authority Nord-pas-de-Calais and elected among the 26 finalists for the RegioStars Award 2011.

Policy Context

FLIPPER is a European Territorial Cooperation project funded under the Interreg IVC EU Programme. The Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC, financed by the European Union's Regional Development Fund, helps Regions of Europe work together to share experiences and good practice in the area of innovation, the knowledge economy, the environment and risk prevention. EUR 302 million is available for project funding but, more than that, a wealth of knowledge and potential solutions are also on hand for regional policy-makers.

Description of target users and groups

Knowledge transfer about Flexible Transport Services planning and managing among decision makers and technicians of governmental administrations.

Niche market customers and different citizens' groups, such as people with disabilities, the elderly, students and tourists

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The Consortium

The FLIPPER consortium is composed of eleven partners coming from seven different European regions and represented by different entities, such as public transport companies and authorities, universities and research institutes, local authorities and a not-for-profit association. This provides an ideal context for exchanging experiences and good practices on mobility services accessibility, environmentally friendly transport services and for reducing social exclusion of vulnerable citizens' groups.

There is a good balance between public, research and operators, tightly linked to the public transport sector, which assures that the work is oriented towards practical exploitation and can have an influence on future policies on the public transport.
Most of the FLIPPER partners have acquired a well consolidated experience in operating the flexible transports services in different areas and real environment thus guaranteeing the transfer of know-how about FTS schemes and the ICT platform concept in different EU areas.


In order to achieve concrete results in an efficient and effective way, the project activities are divided as follows:

  • Management and coordination;
  • Communication and dissemination;
  • Exchange of experiences dedicated to the identification and analysis of good practices;
  • Pilot applications;
  • New approaches and policy instruments.

A key operational phase is the Exchange of experiences dedicated to the identification and analysis of good practices which is dedicated to the knowledge transfer among the different FLIPPER European areas/entities with the organisation and realisation of training courses, technical visits, thematic workshops targeted to Local Authorities, Transport Operators, Practitioners of the different EU areas and the creation of an on-line web Virtual Library dedicated to the good practices and learning modules in order to access the knowledge on the different FTS aspects/policy/good practices.

This phase, together with communication and dissemination represents the basis for the vertical activities of the pilot applications, developed at each areas/site by implementing and evaluating at different level the identified good FTS practices (feasibility study and experimentation-demonstration).

The final phase (New approaches and policy instruments) will consolidate the good practices and will establish the recommendations for a transport policy and new approaches at regional and European level which take into account environment, sustainability, equity and social cohesion objectives.

The "Management and Coordination" component will put in place an efficient and effective FLIPPER project management to ensure that all the project objectives are achieved within time, cost and available resources.

Virtual Library

The FLIPPER Virtual Library is an on-line repository, and Europe's leading source of information, on Flexible Transport Systems. Originally developed in the CONNECT project (a Co-ordination Action financed by the European Commission under the Sixth Framework Programme which ended in 2006) FLIPPER has taken over management of the Library and will be updating it with materials from the project as well as other current documentation on flexible transport which partners become aware of.

Main results, benefits and impacts

Project achievements

FLIPPER project aims at establishing a knowledge transfer network among different EU areas and Authorithies for FTS. Its objective is to achieve capability-building, environmental, sustainable and innovative solutions in the Public Transport domain by evaluating the viability and real impacts and by gathering good practices identified at site level.

FLIPPER officially started, after the proposal final approval (17/11/08), with a Kick Off meeting in Bologna (Dec. 08), attended by all partners. FLIPPER partners have organised and attended 5 Training Courses (TC), 3 Technical Visits (SV), 8 Workshop (WS), 9 Steering Group Meetings (SC) and presented the project to 10 international conferences since the project began in Sept. 08.

The FLIPPER official website is working and is constantly updated and maintained, registering a relevant number of contacts showing the interest in the topic dealt by FLIPPER. FLIPPER Virtual Library is now online and UNIABDN issued the Virtual library manual (D4). Partners elaborated the deliverable "Position paper" establishing guidelines for the development of the planned feasibility studies. The studies have been concluded at the end of June 2010 and partner reports are to be submitted by September. 6 pilot applications are starting in July 2010 and will be focused on:

  • SRM-Flexible Transport Systems with the function to link a low density area with main transport service lines and local administrative offices (Borgo Panigale, IT).
  • Purbach-Ensuring an attractive mobility service which is affordable and protects the environment (Purbach, AU).
  • AUTh-Flexible Transport Services for meeting demands of tourists in Kastoria Municipality area (Kastoria, GR).
  • Volos-Flexible Transport Services for people with disabilities and mobility problems (Volos, GR).
  • ICF-Flexible Transport Services for a little island area and the introduction of voice intercoms (Formentera, SP).
  • RAL-Flexible Transport Services in Tipperary South focused on health and disability service users (South Tipperary, IR).

Finally project Lead Partner and Coordinator, supported by all partners, edited and issued (Apr. 10) FLIPPER Mid-Term Report, summarizing the results of the first half of project activities and paying particular attention to: feasibility studies, pilot applications, good practices and exchange of experiences.

All partners are working tight on good practices identification and transfer. Up to now 24 good practices were identified in the different fields of activity and will be subject of a dedicated deliverable that will be available at the end of the project.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

As above mentioned the events foreseen by FLIPPER project were conceived as a study path to take into account and share experiences on the different aspects of Flexible Transport Services. Up to now, a total of over 600 people attended the different events, held in the different countries. A final Conference will take place in Almada - Portugal in October 2011 where it will be possible to share the experience, present the good practices collection and draft final conclusions.

Lessons learnt

Flexible Transport Services need a prior Feasibility Study to be able to answer real needs increasing therefore efficiency, efficacy and customer satisfaction;

Feasibility Studies of good quality could bear to unpredicted project outcomes as happened in FLIPPER where 3 unexpected pilots were implemented;

FTS are sustainable from economic and environmental point of view but especially taking into account non-monetary benefits they produce positive return;

The use of IT tools allows the management of a service granting optimization at all levels, including use of  resources and costs;

The support of decision- and policy-makers can strongly encourage the diffusion of Flexible Transport Services that are a real step ahead also in the fight against social exclusion.

Scope: International, Regional (sub-national)