Demand responsive transport

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Demand-responsive transport, also known as demand-responsive transit (DRT), demand-responsive service[1], Dial-a-Ride transit (DART)[2][3] or flexible transport services[4] is "an advanced, user-oriented form of public transport characterised by flexible routing and scheduling of small/medium vehicles operating in shared-ride mode between pick-up and drop-off locations according to passengers needs".[5]

DRT and other kinds of transport

DRT systems typically provide a public transport service for areas of low passenger demand, such as rural areas, where a regular bus service would not be viable.[6][7] DRT services may also be provided especially for special needs passengers, as with paratransit programs. Ridership on DRT services is usually quite low (less than ten passengers per hour), but DRT can provide coverage effectively.[8][9]

DRT schemes may be fully or partially funded by the local transit authority, as providers of socially necessary transport. As such, operators of DRT schemes may be selected by public tendering. Other schemes may be partially or fully self-funded as community centred not for profit social enterprises (such as a Community interest company in the UK).

DRT schemes may also be provided by private companies for commercial reasons; some conventional bus operating companies have set up DRT-style airport bus services, which compete with larger private hire airport shuttle companies.

Differences from other modes of transport[edit]

  • Regular transit bus routes: DRT employs flexible routes and schedules[10]
  • Shuttle bus services: DRT departure and arrival points are not necessarily fixed[10]
  • Deviated Fixed Route Service: Transit service that operates along a fixed alignment or path at generally fixed times, but may deviate from the route alignment to collect or drop off passengers who have requested the deviation[1]
  • Paratransit: DRT is available to the general public, whereas paratransit is available to pre-qualified user bases, especially for people with disabilities and the elderly
  • Share taxis: DRT is pre-booked in advance, whereas share taxis are operated on an ad-hoc basis
  • Taxicabs: DRT generally carries more people, and passengers may have less control over their journey on the principle of DRT being a shared[6] system as opposed to an exclusive vehicle for hire. Additionally, journeys may divert en route for new bookings.[10]

Mode of operation[edit]

A DRT service will be restricted to a defined operating zone, within which journeys must start and finish. Journeys may be completely free form, or accommodated onto skeleton routes and schedules,[7] varied as required. As such, users will be given a specified pick-up point and a time window for collection.[7] Some DRT systems may have defined termini, at one or both ends of a route, such as an urban centre, airport or transport interchange, for onward connections.

DRT systems require passengers to request a journey by booking with a central dispatcher[7][10] who determines the journey options available given the users' location and destination.

DRT systems take advantage of fleet telematics technology in the form of vehicle location systems, scheduling and dispatching software and hand-held/in vehicle computing.[6][7][11]

Vehicles used for DRT services will usually be small minibuses, reflecting the low ridership, but also allowing the service to provide as near a door to door service as practical, by being able to use residential streets.[7] In some cases Taxicabs are hired by the DRT provider to serve their routes on request.

Simulations of health and environmental effects[edit]

For a model of a hypothetical large-scale demand-responsive public transport system for the Helsinki metropolitan area, simulation results published in 2005 demonstrated that “in an urban area with one million inhabitants, trip aggregation could reduce the health, environmental, and other detrimental impacts of car traffic typically by 50–70%, and if implemented could attract about half of the car passengers, and within a broad operational range would require no public subsidies”.[12]


DRT schemes may require new or amended legislation, or special dispensation, to operate, as they do not meet the traditional licensing model of authorised bus transport providers or licensed taxicab operators. The status has caused controversy between bus and taxi operators when the DRT service picks up passengers without pre-booking, due to the licensing issues.[13][14] Issues may also arise surrounding tax and fuel subsidy for DRT services.

DRT by country[edit]

Sorted by relevance.

United States[edit]

Dial a Ride in New Jersey, 1974

The large majority of 1,500 rural systems in the US provide demand-response service; there are also about 400 urban DRT systems.[15]




South Carolina[edit]

  • CARTA Flex-Route Zones, portions of Charleston SC

Washington State[edit]

Washington DC[edit]

Germany and Austria[edit]

In German-speaking countries many isolated systems exist under the following names: Anruflinienfahrt (ALF), Anruf-Linien-Dienst (ALD), Anruflinienbus, Anruflinientaxi (ALT, alita), Anrufbus, Rufbus, Ruf-mich-Bus, Linienbedarfstaxi (LBT), Taxibus, Linientaxi, Bedarfsbus, Anruftaxi, RuftaxiAnruf-Buslinien und -Sammeltaxis.



  • RufbusLinie 326 Leopoldschlag - Summerau - Freistadt [6]


In sparse populated areas (under 100 p/km2) from 1995, PostBus Switzerland Ltd (national post company) has operated a DRT service called PubliCar, formerly also Casa Car. For more see [7] or project's web page.

Publicar operates in: Payerne (VD), La Courtine de Bellelay (BE), Delémont (JU), Thierrens (VD), Oron (VD), La Brévine (NE), Yverdon (VD), Echallens (VD), Orbe (VD), Naters-Blatten(-Belalp) (Night) (VS), Birgisch-Mund (Night) (VS), Bitsch (Night) (VS), Brigerberg (Night) (VS), Simplon-South (VS), Zwischbergen (summer) (VS), Surselva (GR), Appenzell (AI), Oberegg-Reute (AI/AR), Valposchiavo (GR)

United Kingdom[edit]

Under the existing UK bus operating regulations of 1986, some DRT schemes were operating, allowed by the fact they had a core start and finish point, and a published schedule.[19] For England and Wales in 2004, the regulations concerning bus service registration and application of bus operating grants were amended, to allow registration of fully flexible pre-booked DRT services.[19] Some services such as LinkUp only pick up passengers at 'meeting points', but can set down at the passenger's destination.

Hong Kong[edit]

Red minibuses which serve non-franchised routes across the country, depending on routes, allow passengers to reserve their seats by phone such that operators and drivers are able to know where passengers are and how many there are in deploying their vehicles.[25]


  • Liftango, Demand responsive mobility platform, powered by dynamic matching and auto-route scheduling technology.
  • Xemo, on-demand mobility platform and demand responsive shuttle service in Victoria, Australia
  • SmartLink, Demand Responsive Transport service in Blue Mountains.[26]
  • PocketRide, a door-to-door DRT system being developed in Ballarat, Victoria.[27]
  • Kan-go, Demand Responsive Transport service in Hervey Bay, Queensland[28][29]
  • Kan-go,[30] Demand Responsive Transport service in Toowoomba (Rangeville), Queensland[29]
  • FTS - Flexible Transport System, Demand Responsive Transport service connecting airport passengers to hotels in Melbourne, Victoria.[29][31]


  • Dial-a-Ride Transit, Winnipeg Transit, replaces regular fixed transit route service in three neighbourhoods during low-use hours and provides door-to-door transit service in one inner-city neighbourhood during daytime hours.[2]
  • BT Let's Go, Belleville Transit, replaced fixed route night bus service covering the entire city with an on-demand transit service, providing stop-to-stop scheduled pick-ups and drop-offs requested by riders through a web-based application. Buses are dynamically routed to riders in real-time by an autonomous algorithm.


Following some pioneering DRT schemes implemented in the 1980s, in Italy a new generation of applications were launched from the mid 1990s. There are DRT schemes in urban and peri-urban areas as well as in rural communities. Operated by both public Transport companies and private service providers, the DRT schemes are offered either as intermediate collective transport services for generic users or as schemes for specific user groups. DRT schemes operate in major cities including Rome, Milan, Genoa, Florence, and in several mid- to small-size towns including Alessandria, Aosta, Cremona, Livorno, Mantova, Parma, Empoli, Siena, and Sarzana.

  • AllôBus and AllôNuit, Demand Responsive Transport service in Aosta/Aoste
  • DrinBus, Demand Responsive Transport service in Genoa[32]
  • PersonalBus, Demand Responsive Transport service in Florence
  • ProntoBus, Demand Responsive Transport service in Livorno and Sarzana
  • EccoBus, Demand Responsive Transport service in Alessandria
  • StradiBus, Demand Responsive Transport service in Cremona
  • Radiobus, Demand Responsive Transport service in Milano


The first ever demand responsive transport scheme in Poland - called Tele-Bus - is operated since 2007 in Krakow by MPK, the local public transport company (see also Tramways in Krakow). Some information about the scheme can be found on the relevant pages of MPK web site as well as in a short video.


See Flexibus' web page (in DE and FR).

Czech Republic[edit]

There are two noticeable DRT organizers:

  1. Radiobus since 2004 especially for city transit system - uses fixed timetables, but bus goes only when called by passenger
  2. DHD company since 2003 especially for collecting workers from spread rural area. DHD provides booking and organization, however, the transport is implemented by several local transport companies. DHD is trying to extent this system as an alternative to the less effective and expensive (however easier to use) rural public transport with fixed timetables.

There are several smaller DRT lines, some of them are listed on this page in Czech cs:poptávková doprava.


More than 200 of the 1700 local governments in Japan have introduced the DRT. For more information see the following On Demand Bus(Japan).


Public transport authority in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik and the surrounding municipalities. Manages public bus transport and disabled transport, but does not have its own vehicles. About 1300 enquiries and thousand trips a day. Uses 60 vehicles and 10-20 more for school transport for children with special needs. For more see]


Xiamen and Changzhu is planning the DRT project by Transit scholar James W.


Regional transport authority in Västra Götaland in southwestern Sweden is responsible for all public transport and for transport offers to citizens with special needs. DRT used for people with special needs (paratransit). More here [10]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b NTD Glossary Archived 2013-11-13 at the Wayback Machine. US National Transit Database
  2. ^ a b Winnipeg Transit Archived 2009-07-08 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b King County Transit
  4. ^ CONNECT is a Coordination Action in the Sustainable Development Thematic Area of the European Union's 6th Framework Program, successfully ended on December 2005.
  5. ^ Synopsis of DRT European Commission Directorate-General for Energy and Transport
  6. ^ a b c Demand Responsive Transit service (DRTs):PersonalBus - Tuscany - Florence - Italy Report by EU Project Penelope (Promoting ENergy Efficiency to Local Organisations through dissemination Partnerships in Europe) 3 September 2002
  7. ^ a b c d e f Archived 2008-03-19 at the Wayback Machine. What is DRT?
  8. ^ A Guide for Planning and Operating Flexible Public Transportation Services
  9. ^ Human Transit: Can a "flexible route" solve the problem of low ridership due to low density? Archived 2015-09-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Demand-Response Transit Service Archived 2008-09-24 at the Wayback Machine. The Central Federal Lands Highway Division, US department of Transportation
  11. ^ Abstract of paper: Using smart technologies to revitalize demand responsive transport Journal of Intelligent Transportation Systems, Volume 1, Issue 3 1994 , pages 275 - 293
  12. ^ Jouni T Tuomisto, Marko Tainio: An economic way of reducing health, environmental, and other pressures of urban traffic: a decision analysis on trip aggregation, BioMed Central, November 25, 2005
  13. ^ Shuttle faces probe into 'illegal fares' Archived 2007-11-02 at the Wayback Machine. Edinburgh Evening News, 13 September 2007
  14. ^ Row over Edinburgh Airport shuttle service Archived 2007-12-24 at the Wayback Machine., 15 October 2007
  15. ^ Guidebook for Rural Demand-Response Transportation: Measuring, Assessing, and Improving Performance. document of The Transportation Research Board. p. 100.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Finley". Ben Franklin Transit. Archived from the original on June 16, 2012. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  19. ^ a b Registration of Flexible Local Bus Services and Related BSOG Regulations UK Department for Transport
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-07-29. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  22. ^ News and Events Archived 2012-04-26 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Home
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  25. ^
  26. ^ SmartLink Community Transport by Great Community Transport
  27. ^ [1] Archived 2010-04-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ Kan-go Hervey Bay
  29. ^ a b c System developed and hosted by Belengo Pty Ltd ([2])
  30. ^ Kan-go Toowoomba.
  31. ^ FTS - Flexible Transport System
  32. ^ DrinBus service AMT Public Transport operator, web pages in Italian