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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

An investigation into accessiblity barriers in mass transport systems


With this fund, Alexander Masterman is looking to run a series of focus groups and interviews with the public to gauge the current accessibility barriers that exist in public transportation. The barriers Alexander is interested in extend past physical accessibility such as wheelchairs. These accessibility barriers include safety, comfort, noise level and more. These accessibility needs will be used in the design and development of a routing algorithm for a Demand Responsive Transport system. This system will route mass transport vehicles such as buses in a way that optimizes accessibility and access to the vehicles for passengers.
By considering and optimizing the accessibility of passengers as well as their objectives when routing a demand-responsive transport system, the passengers will have a better experience. Improving the passenger experience and allowing them to select their objectives, such as cost, comfort, or safety, will allow the service provider to better serve their customers. The overall aim of these improvements is not only to encourage the use of public transport systems but reduce the cost of public transportation.
By increasing flexibility, reducing the cost, and removing the accessibility barriers that exist public transportation will be a more attractive option for transport. In addition to the improvements to service by allowing the passenger to select their optimization priority such as cost, this will help those struggling with the cost of transportation. With proper investment and modernization of public mass transportation.
Additionally, this project plan to run a weekend hackathon for undergraduate/postgrad students to develop a demo/animation to demonstrate the potential benefits of the system. This would be an open-ended hackathon where many different types of outputs will be accepted, from small games, animations, or interactive websites. The prize pool would be split between the first second and third-place winners. Additionally, a portion of the funds for further development will be set aside for one of the top three teams who can commit to short-term polish and feedback sessions, producing a finished demo for revel at the workshop in London as well as making changes based on any feedback.


The primary objective of this investigation is to understand the accessibility barriers currently in mass transportation. Once these have been procured this information will be feed back into the Demand responsive transport simulation to model the potential improvements that can be made to the passengers’ journeys.
In addition to this value to the simulation we will be producing a policy brief for our connections within the Department for Transport as well as running a workshop in London with a range of policymakers and industry stakeholders. This policy brief will outline the findings of the focus groups, interviews, and feedback from the workshop participants. The aim of this policy brief is to not only give feedback on our findings to government and industry stakeholders (i.e. transit companies) but also suggest areas where work within the Auto-Trust and CCAI teams may be applicable.
Alongside these objectives this work may also identify new areas of transportation that could be improved by Artificial Intelligence systems that fit within the scope of these teams work and form the basis for future collaborations.
The hackathon for demos will not only allow for outreach with undergraduates to get them interested in the research happening within the teams but also get them interested in engaging with policymakers. Additionally, the demo output would be a helpful tool to bring to workshops and conferences to help explain the research.

Sustainable Development Goal

SDG11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Project Lead

Alexander Masterman

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