Public transport feeder networks comprise the possible public or private means of reaching the nearest public transport stop. Examples include non-conventional types of public transport (e.g. taxi-buses or demand-responsive bus lines), car pooling, cycling and walking. The problematics connected to the so-called first and last mile are an important issue when designing any kind of telecommunication or transport network, and this is especially so in sparsely populated rural areas. Due to low numbers of passengers and their distribution over a wide geographical area, it is very difficult to offer an attractive and cost-efficient public transport alternative to the private car in some areas. In fact, over the past decade the problem has been exacerbated as a result of demographic changes (migration to cities, ageing), the high level of private car use, and cost cuts in public services.
Public transport feeder networks are an attempt to tackle this challenge. The idea is to provide regular public transport services along dedicated backbone routes, and to organise small-scale, demand-driven mobility services to bring passengers to the nearest bus or railway stop. In many European rural areas such services already exist – and SmartMove will promote these services by active mobility consultancy campaigns. Besides attracting new passengers to already existing feeder schemes, these campaigns collect feedback from existing passengers to improve the service.