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January 02 2018
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

Demand responsive transport: Future examined

Future travel requirements are likely to foster a demand responsive sector that encompasses both fully voluntary and commercial service provision, says the Community Transport Association’s report

The report evaluates the future of demand responsive transport in the UK

A report into the future of demand responsive transport (DRT) predicts tailored DRT solutions meeting the needs of both populated cities and rural communities, and it says that DRT already forms a major part of thinking by commercial operators such as the large bus groups.

The document has been published by the Community Transport Association. Chief Executive Bill Freeman says that an expansion of DRT would “reduce the number of unmade journeys that lower people’s work and life aspirations and leave them isolated… and would address concerns about unused capacity and our carbon footprint.”

Technology-driven DRT is already bringing down barriers to commercial operation, says the report, which uses the ArrivaClick service in Sittingbourne and Slide in Bristol, operated by RATP Dev with eight-seat minibuses, as examples.

When coupled with reducing car ownership among young people, demand for tech-savvy DRT is likely to increase in the future, possibly also at the expense of fixed-route services, it adds.

Consumer appetite for DRT is already strong, but the report advocates new rules to govern how systems and markets will operate in the future.

Going forward, DRT is likely to account for some journeys formerly made by single-occupancy cars. The reports points out that DRT has a significant part to play in addressing urban congestion, but service delivery quality is key.

“Much of what people desire from DRT can be delivered by a good bus service, but expecting someone to walk to a stop 200 yards away, that has no shelter or timetabling, and hope that a bus will come along at some point, is probably not a satisfactory model for the future.”

The key challenge, says the report, is to run a flexible service that also meets the needs of both choice and necessity; that is, it should accommodate discretionary travellers and those who have no alternative, but it recommends that the needs of the most disadvantaged are put at the centre of DRT service or infrastructure design.

One principal conclusion is that successful DRT schemes will be integrated with wider public transport, with DRT minibuses potentially transporting passengers to arterial points, where they join timetabled services.

Resilience, sustainability, and tailoring DRT networks to local conditions and traffic generators such as hospitals will also be imperative, the report adds.

Read the full report at

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