RESNA Annual Conference - 2019

Investigation on Multimodal Transportation for Older People Using Personal Mobility Vehicle

Yoshiyuki Takahashi1, Atsushi Matsubara2, Ayumu Isomura3, Kaoru Inoue4, Motoki Takagi5

1Toyo University, 2Foundation for Promoting Personal Mobility and Ecological Transportation, 3fukufukuplus corporation, 4Tokyo Metropolitan University, 5Teikyo University (Japan)


shadow picture of older persons
Figure 1. The Concept of Personal Mobility Vehicle with Public Transportation
Ensuring the mobility for older people have become a social problem in Japan. In rural areas, even if older people stop driving due to aging, public transportation service is inconvenient. In urban areas, there are public transport networks exist however, short distance walking support is needed e.g. from the home to the rail station. Moving is good to keep physical and mental health of older people. Therefore, the authors propose "Personal Mobility Vehicle (PMV)", which is a small mobile device to support short distance transportation. It can bring into a public transportation and moving with the user. For example, moving PMV from home to station. After that, folding the PMV and carry on to the train. After getting off the station near the destination, unfolding PMV and move to the destination. We believe that combining transportation modes can reduce the burden on the mobility of older people, motivate them to go out, and expand the range of activity. The concept is shown in the Figure 1 and PMV which we have developed is shown in the Figure 2.


example image of demonstration experiment by using Segway
Figure 2. The Personal Mobility Vehicle

In this research, it is aimed to investigate the effectiveness of mobility combining PMV and public transportation. Demonstration experiments using park and ride system using sharing electric bikes, bicycles or cars were carried out by local government and motor company[1-3]. However, the authors consider it will be difficult to share the vehicle for older people because of their physical condition difference. Therefore, the authors propose that increasing convenience of mobility by carrying and riding own vehicle. In this paper, the result of a preliminary experiment using an electric mobility scooter wheelchair as a PMV and using with a public transportation system is reported.


image of electric mobility scooter which is used for our preliminary experiment
Figure 3. Electric Mobility Scooter
Experiments were using PMV performed assumed daily activity. We observed transportation combined with train and PMV for going to the shopping center etc. in other districts from the residential area along the line. Two different experimental environment, Tsukuba Express Line as an urban line that routed near Tokyo and Hokuriku Dentetsu Line as a rural line that routed in Hokuriku region (approximately 500km north west of Tokyo) were enrolled.  Electric mobility scooter is used as a PMV (Figure 3)[4].


Figure 4 shows the scenes in the experiment in Tsukuba Express Line and urban area. Pavement roads were flat and good to move by the scooter. This line started to operate in 2005. It was after the effectuation of barrier-free transportation law in Japan. Therefore, station facilities were accessible. However, gap between the train and platform is existing. The train is one-man operation and subject got stack in the train door once in the experiment. We expect that train driver did not confirm well on observation monitor. Even if the experiments were carried out during not crowded time, wide space was needed to turning and placing scooter in the train.

image of urban line train
image of urban flat pavement
image of train station facility (Elevator)
image of getting on the train by electric mobility scooter using a ramp
map of railway
Figure 4. Experiment Scene in Urban Line
Figure 5 shows the scenes in the experiment in Hokuriku Dentetsu Line and rural area. Pavement roads level were approximate 50mm high from the roadway with large inclination. This area is heavy snowing area and lot of ditch are exist. The lids were gap of the road and difficult to run. Station facilities were almost none barrier-free. Small number of passenger facility is exclusion from low related barrier-free. Most narrow width of the platform was about 1000mm. At that part, it was difficult to change direction. In order to get on and off the train while getting on the PMV, a transfer board was necessary, and assistance was made at each station. However, when get off the front door, platform width was narrow and in the case of using the slope, PMV hit the end of the platform and difficult to get off.


right column:
image of rural line train
image of rural uneven road
image of getting on the train by electric mobility scooter using a ramp with huge platform gap
image of getting off the train but it stacked
map of railway
Figure 5. Experiment Scene in Rural Line
As a result of observing moving by electric mobility scooter as a PMV, it was confirmed that problems to be solved in order to use the PMV which we are proposing to cooperate with public transportation,

  • PMV requires the performance to clear the gap to get on and off a train, pivot turning to change the direction.
  • Facilities require flat surface and turnable space. Platform screen door and minimized gap between train and platform are desirable to ensure safety.
  • Sharing a cabin space with a wheelchair and a baby buggy, and also saving a space by folding PMV in congestion situation are also considered.
  • In case of one-man operation, the passenger get on rear door and get off front door for paying ticket fee because of distance based fare system is adopted. If zone pricing and proof of payment system is adopted, the passenger can get on and off any door. It means no need to move in the train and reduce the time for getting off.


In this study, preliminary experiments were carried out using electric mobility scooter with public transportation. As a result, it is confirmed that problems to be solved in order to use the PMV which we are proposing to cooperate with public transportation.


 [1] Richard Katzev. Car Sharing: A New Approach to Urban Transportation Problems. Analysis of Social Issue and Public Policy. 2003 3(1):65-86.

[2] Lawrence D. Burns. A vision of our transport future. Nature. 2013 497:181-182.

[3] Daisuke SUNAGA, Sadayasu AONO, Hirokazu MATSUMOTO,  Yasuaki TERAMURA and Hisashi KUBOTA. A STUDY ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF MICRO ELECTRIC VEHICLE IN THE METROPOLITAN SUBURBS. Journal of Japan Society of Civil Engineers. 2016 D3(33):I-641-I-651.

 [4] Luggie. 2017.