23 February 2021

Aberdeenshire Council launches engagement on Demand Responsive Transport services

Aberdeenshire Council is engaging with local communities into potential new and enhanced bus transport services which, if successful, could be rolled out across the region.

Even before the impact of the Covid pandemic, the use of bus services across the UK has been in decline for several years.

But since the Covid emergency, travel needs and demands have evolved with a massive increase in people working from home, a surge in online shopping and the development of tele-healthcare.

Peak workers’ travel requirements - which formed the previous service delivery priority - have diminished significantly and currently all travel demand by bus is suppressed and is generally more local.

Aberdeenshire is now investigating whether to trial a new type of bus service which is successfully operating elsewhere in the UK. 

The council is exploring the possibility of introducing new ‘Demand Responsive Transport’ (DRT) services in the Inverurie and/or Deeside areas which would replace traditional fixed-route timetabled services. The first pilot service is due to start in the autumn.

Unlike an A2B dial-a-bus service, where usually a minimum of 1-hour pre-booking is required, it is envisaged that the new DRT will enable passengers to book a vehicle when they want to travel with the first available vehicle then dispatched. The service would also cater for the needs of regular passengers wanting to book in advance.

Cllr Peter Argyle, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, explains: “With travel needs rapidly changing, DRT services may provide a better and more flexible type of bus service for the types of journeys which people will make by public transport in the Covid recovery period.

“Flexibility in service delivery should allow more disparate and less regular travel needs to be accommodated and levels of service to be more rapidly tailored to emerging travel needs.”

Vice-chair Cllr John Cox added: “I would encourage anyone with an interest in Aberdeenshire bus services to participate fully in our virtual engagement to help us plan future services which will better meet the needs of our communities.”

The survey, which will run until Friday, March 26, can be found online at https://engage.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/engagement-on-drt-services-in-aberdeenshire

It also features links to videos explaining how other bus services both here in the UK and abroad now successfully operate as a DRT.

Anyone who is unable to access the online survey can contact the Passenger Transport Unit on 01467 535333 and a telephone survey will be arranged.