by Lisa Davison a,n, Marcus Enoch b, Tim Ryley b, Mohammed Quddus b, Chao Wang in Transport Policy 31 (2014) 47–54
Abstract: Ever since the 1970s, Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) has been promoted as a transport solution in circumstances where more traditional services are not economically viable, although so far a range of barriers has prevented its widespread adoption. More recently, new developments in operational and vehicle technology, coupled with significant cuts to public transport subsidy budgets, promote a willingness to explore ‘institutionally challenging’ options such as integrating transport provision across a range of different sectors. This has once more pushed the DRT concept forward as a possible option for saving money whilst retaining opportunities for accessibility.
Accordingly, it is now useful to explore the current provision of DRT in Great Britain, in order to determine what type of services exist and to examine which are working well and why. Specifically, the paper draws on a national survey of DRT providers to examine the design, performance, rationale and likely futures of DRT schemes.
Key findings suggest a growing role for stakeholders from the voluntary sector and the private sector, the latter resulting in a greater use of smaller vehicles. Linear regression models highlight that passenger numbers are influenced by the size of operation (in terms of seats offered) and by the use of smaller ‘car’ vehicles, particularly in rural areas. Increasingly, objectives highlight the importance of DRT in providing access and geographical coverage, though insufficient revenue presents a challenge in achieving this. The long term financial sustainability of such schemes continues to be questioned, with a limited number of schemes recognised as commercially sustainable. Naturally, therefore, cost and funding remain dominant concerns of DRT service providers. The organisational response to funding reductions has been diverse. The result is that DRT services have either been withdrawn or, in some cases, replaced conventional bus services due to DRT being a more cost-effective way of meeting local needs.
Keywords: Demand Responsive Transport (DRT), Survey, Local authorities, Community transport, Public transit