‘No one left behind’ – how to plug a gap in bus services

01 June 2016

What happens when the bus stops calling at your local stop or going through your community entirely?

Passengers in Suffolk, Worcestershire and Hampshire have shared their experiences of ‘on demand’ bus services when traditional scheduled bus services stop running.

As local transport budgets come under increasing pressure and bus services become more prone to cuts, demand responsive transport can provide a safety net and ensure that there is still a link to local high streets and important journeys such as attending medical appointments.

Our report Demand responsive transport: users’ views of pre-booked community buses and shared taxis found that demand responsive transport can provide an attractive service, especially for older and disabled people. However it is not clear that it currently offers a good alternative to conventional bus services for other transport users, especially younger people.

David Sidebottom, Transport Focus passenger director, said:

“As local authority supported bus services across the country face funding reductions, some areas are being left with little or no bus service at all. ‘On demand’ services can provide an attractive alternative.

“We urge local transport authorities to bear our findings in mind. Demand responsive transport services as an alternative to conventional bus services could be an effective solution but awareness and benefits of the schemes has to be actively promoted.”

Our research found:

  • demand responsive transport can offer a way of providing a service where one might not otherwise exist at all
  • demand responsive transport can make a limited contribution to meeting the transport needs of isolated communities, particularly if it is introduced as part of a wider review influenced by full public consultation
  • reductions in service frequency tend to be accompanied by falls in patronage, so any financial savings to local authorities are often achieved at a cost.

To understand more about the impact of on demand services and its contribution to meeting the needs of passengers, we partnered with three local authorities – Suffolk, Worcestershire and Hampshire. We asked existing users and non-users about their views on community bus services and taxi share schemes.

Click here to read our report:

Demand responsive transport: users’ views of pre-booked community buses and shared taxis.

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