Evaluating publicly-funded DRT schemes in England and Wales
2015-06-12T09:22:58Z (GMT) by
Increasing use of the private car, in part due to declining real costs, has led to a reduction in the viability of rural public transport services over recent years. Combined with an increasing recognition that transport can help tackle social exclusion and the advent of the Rural and Urban Bus Challenges, this has led to the instigation of a number of publicly funded Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) schemes in England and Wales. However the reported performance of these schemes has been variable and little is known about the interplay between their design, operation and performance. This thesis utilised the theory of Realistic Evaluation (Pawson and Tilley, 2007) to design and undertake a survey, and a number of case studies of publicly-funded DRT schemes in England and Wales, and analyse the resultant data. In particular this thesis focussed on identifying the pertinent contexts, mechanisms and outcomes that impact upon the design, operation and performance of DRT schemes in an attempt both to learn more about the processes that operate within a DRT scheme, and develop a method by which others can learn more in the future. The conclusions of this thesis are therefore twofold. Firstly they relate to the design, operation and performance of publicly-funded DRT schemes in England and Wales and highlight the importance of careful planning and implementation, and the impact of external contexts, such as geographical and human factors. Secondly they find that Realistic Evaluation can provide a useful framework to evaluate DRT schemes, and one that allows for the cumulation of evaluations in the future. However it is also noted that, in this instance, the application of the theory does not provide results of the level of detail that was predicted at the outset of the study. As a result of this research a significant contribution to knowledge has been made through the development of a baseline of data pertaining to publicly-funded DRT schemes in England and Wales, and the production and trialling of a framework for the evaluation of DRT.