Alternative Service Provision (AP)
Given the rural geography and low population density across the county, traditional timetabled and/or fixed route services may not always be the most effective way of providing passenger transport.
As defined in the Worcestershire Passenger Transport Strategy “Worcestershire County Council will endeavour to encourage and/or make available alternative services for people in areas where traditional public transport is not the most appropriate solution. Such situations include passengers with mobility problems who cannot reach their local bus route, or people who live in remote areas with limited timetabled services. Alternative services may operate as an additional layer to complement traditional passenger transport.”
Thanks to the Worcestershire Urban DRT (Demand Responsive Transport) pilot (Bromsgrove on Demand – BOD) Worcestershire believes that there is a future for DRT and alternative service provision and is considering several options both in terms of plans for rural areas as well as alternative service provision for evening and weekend services where a more flexible offer maybe considered to be more beneficial to users outside of the strategic network.
Community Transport (CT) enables individuals to make essential journeys where there is no local bus service available or one that they can use. In Worcestershire, it provided 155,000 single passenger journeys 2019. Whilst CT can be used for those who have mental or physical mobility issues and require individual assistance and a bespoke journey, DRT can be used by all members of a community and provides a more flexible and tailored alterative to local bus. Worcestershire is not proposing that DRT services are considered to be door-to-door transport and would fit somewhere in between services provided by CT and Taxi operators.
Worcestershire has been running a number of Community Bus Services operated by Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations and these provide much needed links but these tend to be focused on individual communities and based on the results of Transport Needs’ Assessment at a parish level. Worcestershire has been running several Community Bus Services operated by VCS organisations and these provide much needed links, but these tend to be focused on individual communities and based on the results of Transport Needs’ Assessment at a parish level.
The delivery objectives for Alternative Service provision in this iteration of the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) and subject to funding are:
Provide alternative forms of transport where normal modes are not cost effective (APA)
Although Worcestershire was unsuccessful in its initial Rural Mobility fund bid, we have still successfully launched a DRT service within the County, and this has given us a more comprehensive understanding of how DRT can be used in both urban and rural areas. As part of our commitments within the BSIP we are looking to expand the current DRT service as well as looking to implement the services that formed part of our rural mobility fund.
We believe It is essential that DRT is considered and viewed in the same way as standard local bus services, increasing the overall positive perception of Public Transport by being more flexible to users’ requirements. We want to shift the traditional demographic user base for DRT Services to make these services attractive to those that currently travel by car.
We believe that the technological solutions that have been piloted showcase the change in the way that DRT operates compared to those that were operated several years ago and relied more on expensive call centres.
As well as current Bromsgrove on Demand (BOD) expansion we are also considering the following services during the initial phase of the BSIP
- DRT1 - Malvern Hills Economic growth (Malvern Hills on Demand)
- DRT2 - Wychavon access to Services (Wychavon on Demand)
- DRT3 - St Peters Suburb – Commuter Link (St Peters on Demand)
The aim of all these schemes is to provide significantly improved passenger transport access and experience to Key Trip Attractors including the newly opened Worcestershire Parkway Station for the residents of the Worcester and Evesham corridor, and other areas along the route of the current X50 thus improving links to this corridor and local towns will boost the effectiveness of public transport in these areas
Evesham’s transport network itself is subject to significant congestion at both peak and inter-peak periods throughout the day and with the ability to offer solutions that integrate and feed into the X50, there will be opportunities for modal shift (especially among rural villages and hamlets identified within the boundaries of DRT2 Zone area).
By analysing the impact that DRT will have within these schemes, it is envisaged that further expansion into Malvern Hills (DRT1) could be achieved with possible integration with the current 44 Service from Malvern to Worcester.
Currently, the suburban area of St Peters cannot access The Parkway, other than to drive to the nearby station. It is envisaged that the DRT3 Zone would allow for commuters to access the newly opened station and replicates what is current being achieved in the BOD service
We are envisaging with the required funding that these services could be delivered within the first phase of Worcestershire’s BSIP.
In parallel to delivering these services we will be looking to expand the BOD service as well as considering whether evening and weekend services could be achieved using DRT services in some areas of the County.
DRT proposals are about providing services across much wider areas, accommodating wider-ranging needs of passengers. It will be more ‘mainstream’ and could be operated by commercial bus companies as well as where feasible Community Transport Schemes where a hybrid between ‘traditional’ local bus, bespoke CT or door to door Taxi Services.
All newly developed DRT services will consider future mobility principles with a commitment to ensure that services are:
- easy to use
- easy to access
- easy to understand
- easy to interchange between
- APA1 – increase number of DRT Schemes operating in Worcestershire
- APA2 – increase the number of DRT trips by scheme
- APA3 – improve access to services throughout the county
- improve in public perception of bus travel (CS)
- increase in patronage on Worcestershire Network (PG)
Improve integration of alternative Service provision into the Worcestershire Network (API)
We believe that any alternative service provision needs to be considered as part of a joined-up network within Worcestershire. While seamless end to end travel between destinations will always be the preferred option for riders this is not always feasible, and we believe that we need to alter the perception of using more than one service to get to a destination.
As previously stated, we want to shift the traditional demographic user base for DRT Services to make these services much more attractive and integrate with other modes of transport whether this be Rail, Other Fixed route services or Active Travel Corridors. We are looking at technological solutions that ensure DRT services will be integrated into current and future solutions.
We are keen to deliver technological solutions that will allow alternative modes of travel to be fully integrated with other software (Real Time Information for example) as well as being able to be integrated with on-bus hardware and want to explore the feasibility of integrating with On-bus Displays (For next stop and onward travel).
We are also proposing changes to the way In-shelter displays provide information about services as we feel that DRT needs to be integrated into the Worcestershire network. We also believe that Capacity is a critical factor for both DRT services but also in terms of how capacity is measured for onward trips.
- API1 – increase number of locations Alterative service provision integrates with Strategic Network
- API2 – increase number of locations Alternative service provision integrates with Active Travel Corridors
- improve in public perception of Alternative Service Provision (CS)
- increase in patronage on Worcestershire Network (PG)
Associated survey analysis
- 60% of respondents agreed that Transport solutions, including integrated, Demand Responsive and Community Transport, can offer an alternative to traditional passenger transport services (Passenger Transport Survey 2019)
- 60% suggested better or better-connected routes would persuade them to use passenger services more frequently (Passenger Transport Survey 2019)
- only 48% satisfaction in the overall bus network (NHT Survey 2020)
- 92% of respondents stated that an integrated network should be provided (Passenger Transport Survey 2019)