In spring 2014 the pilot operation of smile started. In three phases the user-base was continuously expanded. The kick off was on May 8th when all project members were able to download and test the smile app. From the first days on everybody was using smile as much as possible to provide feedback to our technical team to improve the app step by step in regular iterations.
For the second phase which started on July 7th, 2014 employees from our mobility partners were also enabled to download and test the app. This was done to prepare the team step by step for the external go-live. It was also in this phase when the smile support including a hotline for all users started to provide assistance and to collect feedback. Again – the feedback was then implemented in the app as much as possible.
On November 12th, 2014 the external pilot operation started. From this point on the smile app was available on the Google Play Store. However, only registered pilot users were able to use the app. Over 1,000 people then tested the smile app in the following months. An outstanding amount of feedback was collected and again our goal was to implement as many features as possible. The feedback was great with a rating of 4.79 out of 5 on the PlayStore. Any disruptions were dealt with as soon as possible to minimize any outages. In an additional release to the extensive feedback a new version was released in the middle of February considering as many user requests as possible.
Generally all mobility offers were bookable and payable. However, a few offers required memberships with the mobility providers. Over € 4,200 were spent by the pilot users for 40 taxi rides, 434 Wiener Linien tickets and 261 ÖBB tickets. Nearly eighty times a car2go was booked via smile.
Positive feedback of smile users (translated):
„I like that the last and most used stations are shown :)“
„Hi, dear smile team – this app is on the top of my list“
„I am using more and more features and I am thrilled“
„Great app! The calculation of my first route is great. The comparison of routes is done nicely. Thumbs up!“
„Including longer footwalks is great – especially for days with nice weather“
„I like the color scheme of the columns: green for foot walk, yellow for cabs“
„Great App. Thanks“
„Till now I think it is a great app“
„Works fine with planning daily routes“
„Buying time tickets – simple, two clicks and done. Great!“
„Tickets and registrations work smoothly“
„Outstanding job. Great app. Chapeau“
Over 1,200 external registrations
Over 1,000 pilot users activated
Over 600 downloads in Google PlayStore
Rating of 4.79/5 in Google PlayStore
Over 450 requests in Customer Care
The evaluation of the pilot operation was a major part of the research project. The online evaluation was conducted in 2015 by the Institute for Transportation Science of the Technical University of Vienna. Roughly 17% of the pilot users took part in the survey which is a fairly representative sample.
The majority of the smile pilot users is male (78%), from Vienna (81%), between 20 and 40 years old and has a university or a university of applied sciences degree (53%). Therefore the pilot users are not representative for the Viennese population but they match the gender- and age distribution for early adopters in this area.
Modes of transportation – ownership and usage
77% of the respondents own a bicycle, 59% own a car, 7% an e-bike and 2% own an e-car. The share in yearly tickets is very high with 84% having one from Wiener Linien. 49% are holders of discount cards for ÖBB.
The smile pilot users intensively use public transportation (86% daily to several times a week). 30% drive in their car daily to several times a week, 27% ride the bicycle. 51% of the respondents also used carsharing offers (mostly Car2Go, zipcar and Drive Now) and bikesharing offers (mostly City Bike Vienna – 34%) regularly.
Usage of smile
During the pilot operation 6% used smile daily and 30% several times a week. Mostly the app was used to run private errands (64%), leisure time routes (59%) and on routes where well known transportation providers operate (45%).
When choosing the means of transportation the pilot users preferred to be shown the public transportation routes (80% metro, 77% tram). Also carsharing (21% Car sharing, 7% e-Car sharing) and bike sharing offers (10% bike sharing and 5% e-bike sharing) raised interest.
Smile increased intermodality
Smile increased the intermodality of pilot users. 26% confirmed an increased use of public transport in combination with their private cars. 20% combined public transport and riding a bicycle more often. Mostly shared bikes (68%) and private bikes (51%) were combined with public transportation, followed by private car (51%), carsharing (49%), e-carsharing (8% and e-bike sharing (5%).
The main motivation for the increase in combinations of public transportation and car / bike is the quicker alternative smile suggested (69%/ 74%).
Changes in transportation choices
The usage of smile led to changes in the choice which mode of transport to use. 48% respondents increased usage of public transportation (urban PT 26%, regional PT 22%). 10% increased the use of bikesharing offers while 4% increased the usage of e-carsharing as well as another 4% increased the usasge of e-bike/pedelec. 21% of the surveyed pilot users stated to have reduced the usage of their private car.
A mobility platform like smile therefore increases the usage of sharing offers and e-mobility and at the same time reduces the occasions when private cars are used.
Over two thirds of the respondents tried new routes with smile. Mostly it was alternatives by choosing different modes of transport (47%) or new combinations of them (24%). 37% used more efficient, 21% more attractive and 17% more environmental friendly routes.
This shows that a mobility platform like smile can support breaking mobility routines and increase usage of alternatives.