Demand-Responsive Transport schemes in England and Wales and considerations for their future

DRT ‘provides transport ‘‘on demand’’ from passengers using fleets of vehicles scheduled to pick up and drop off people in accordance with their needs’ (Mageean and Nelson, 2003, p.255). DRT has also been seen as ‘an intermediate form of public transport, somewhere between a regular service route that uses small low floor buses and variably routed highly personalised transport services offered by taxis’ (Brake et al, 2004, p. 324). As such DRT can essentially be defined as an intermediate and highly flexible mode of transportation giving rise to a wide variety of uses. Numerous DRT services operate in the UK, however their future is uncertain as funding streams are in the main coming to an end. Some schemes have already ceased operating whilst others are thriving. As such, it is opportune to take stock of how DRT schemes are performing and what they are doing in order to discern a future strategy for DRT. The aim of this paper is to investigate the current situation with respect to publicly funded DRT schemes in England and Wales. Specifically it investigates how and why DRT schemes have been established, including data on their design and operation, the reasons for scheme implementation and their objectives. Finally it considers the current performance of DRT schemes and the likely future of such schemes. The section below provides a brief summary of the DRT literature followed by an outline of the method used to collect the data. This consisted of a survey which was sent to a carefully selected number of local authorities who administer DRT schemes. The findings from this survey are then presented and finally conclusions are developed in terms of the way forward.