The Zurich Transport Authority (VBZ), together with the Traffic Department, Civil Engineering Office of the City of Zurich, and ViaVan, launched “Pikmi,” the first on-demand public transit service in the region.
Enabling new and quick connections to public transit, Pikmi vehicles are fully integrated into the agency's fare zones, providing service in the evening hours when traditional transit offerings are less available. During the 18-month pilot, the service’s operating area includes the Triemli and Hardplatz transport hubs, in addition to the Zurich quarters of Altstetten and Albisrieden. Rides can be booked through the Pikmi mobile app, powered by technology from ViaVan.
“It has become clear as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that we have to respond to new challenges with innovative ideas. It is therefore important to test new technologies in operation,” City Councilor Michael Baumer, head of the Industrial Companies of the City of Zurich, said. “In addition, the pilot project, which is part of the city's strategic focus areas, is another step for Zurich towards becoming a smart city.”
How it works
Using ViaVan’s technology, Pikmi matches multiple riders headed in a similar direction into a single vehicle and calculates the most efficient route in real time. The Pikmi mobile app shows passengers the expected waiting time until pick-up, and the route to the nearest stop. Riders will need a ticket for the city of Zurich (Zone 110), or a corresponding subscription. Those without a smartphone will be able to book a ride by telephone with a customer service agent.
Since the vehicles are shared, the agency will adhere to national COVID-19 safety guidelines, including requiring riders to wear masks and limiting the vehicle capacity to a maximum of three passengers.
In addition to the existing VBZ stops in the operating area, nearly 150 additional “virtual bus stops” that do not require any additional infrastructure will be added for the service.
ViaVan currently works with several transit agencies and cities across Europe, including BVG in Berlin and EMT in Madrid, to expand access to on-demand public transit service. Pikmi is ViaVan’s first service in Switzerland.