Demand responsive transport

Demand responsive transport

Demand Responsive Transport or Demand-Responsive Transit (DRT) or Demand Responsive Service[1] or Dial-a-ride or Flexible Transport Services[2] 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".[3] In many areas DRT is instead known as DART, or Dial-a-Ride Transit.[4][5]

DRT and other kinds of transport

DRT systems provide a public transport service in rural areas or areas of low passenger demand,[6][7] where a regular bus service may not be as viable. As such, DRT schemes for 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

  • Regular transit bus routes: DRT employs flexible routes and schedules[8]
  • Shuttle bus services: DRT departure and arrival points are not necessarily fixed[8]
  • 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.[8]

Mode of operation

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][8] 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][9]

Vehicles used for DRT services will generally be small minibuses, reflecting the low ridership, but also allowing the service to provided as near a door to door service as practical, by being able to use residential streets.[7]

Simulations of health and environmental effects

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”.[10]


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.[11][12] Issues may also arise surrounding tax and fuel subsidy for DRT services.

DRT by country

Sorted by relevance.

United States

The large majority from 1,500 rural systems in the US provides demand-response service; there are also about 400 urban DRT systems.[13]

Germany and Austria

In Germany speaking countries are many isolated systems: 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. More info can be found in de:ÖPNV-Sonderformen


United Kingdom

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.[15] 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.[15] Some services such as LinkUp only pick up passengers at 'meeting points', but can set down at the passengers destination.


  • SmartLink, Demand Responsive Transport service in Blue Mountains.[16]
  • PocketRide , a door-to-door DRT system being developed in Ballarat, Victoria.[17]
  • Kan-go, Demand Responsive Transport service in Hervey Bay, Queensland[18][19]
  • Kan-go, [20]Demand Responsive Transport service in Toowoomba (Rangeville), Queensland[19]
  • FTS - Flexible Transport System, Demand Responsive Transport service connecting airport passengers to hotels in Melbourne, Victoria.[21][19]


  • 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.[4]


Following some pioneering DRT schemes implemented in the eighties, in Italy a new generation of applications have been launched and are in operation starting from mid nineties. Current schemes are provided in urban and peri-urban areas as well as in rural communities. Operated by different kind of organisations (Public Transport companies, private service providers) such schemes are offered either as intermediate collective transport services for generic users or as schemes for specific user groups. DRT schemes are operated in major cities like Rome, Milan, Genoa, Florence, as well as in several mid- to small-size towns such as Alessandria, Aosta, Cremona, Livorno, Mantova, Parma, Empoli, Siena, Sarzana.

  • AllôBus and AllôNuit, Demand Responsive Transport service in Aosta/Aoste
  • DrinBus, Demand Responsive Transport service in Genoa[22]
  • 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

There is recognized only one public city DRT system - Radiobus - and one rural DRT system - operated by DHD - in the Czech Republic. Legislation[23] still does not support public DRT system (year 2010). For more information see cs:poptávková doprava (in Czech).


"Radiobus" is a kind of city transit system. It is operated like line bus transport and has a regular timetable, but every ride is held only when somebody confirms by telephone or by internet that it wll be used and only the needed part of the route will operate. In the Czech Republic, several local lines in Rychnov nad Kněžnou (since 2003) and Týniště nad Orlicí (since 2004) have been operated this way by "Audis Bus" company in some times of the day. The Czech legislation does not consider this either as public transport or a taxi. The operator AudisBus states that this way of transport was inspired by similar ones in the Netherlands.

Rural DRT system operated by DHD

This system works complementarily to regular Transit buses in the area about 1200 km2 close to Prague for more than 600 regular passengers commuting to work. The system is financed by the major employers and passenger contribution. The DHD company provides booking and organization, however, the transport is implemented by several local trasport companies. DHD is now trying to extent this system as an alternative to the less effective and expensive (however easier to use) rural public transport with fixed timetables.

See also


  1. ^ a b NTD Glossary US National Transit Database
  2. ^ a b CONNECT is a Coordination Action in the Sustainable Development Thematic Area of the European Union's 6th Framework Program, successfully ended on December 2005.
  3. ^ Synopsis of DRT European Commission Directorate-General for Energy and Transport
  4. ^ a b Winnipeg Transit
  5. ^ a b King County Transit
  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 What is DRT?
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Demand-Response Transit Service The Central Federal Lands Highway Division, US department of Transportation
  9. ^ Abstract of paper: Using smart technologies to revitalize demand responsive transport Journal of Intelligent Transportation Systems, Volume 1, Issue 3 1994 , pages 275 - 293
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ Shuttle faces probe into 'illegal fares' Edinburgh Evening News, 13 September 2007
  12. ^ Row over Edinburgh Airport shuttle service, 15 October 2007
  13. ^ Guidebook for Rural Demand-Response Transportation: Measuring, Assessing, and Improving Performance. document of The Transportation Research Board. pp. 100. 
  14. ^ Finley Service webpage accessed 2 Jul 2008
  15. ^ a b Registration of Flexible Local Bus Services and Related BSOG Regulations UK Department for Transport
  16. ^ SmartLink Community Transport by Great Community Transport
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ Kan-go
  19. ^ a b c System developed and hosted by Belengo Pty Ltd (
  20. ^ Kan-go.
  21. ^ FTS - Flexible Transport System
  22. ^ DrinBus service AMT Public Transport operator, web pages in Italian
  23. ^ Zák. 111/94Sb o silniční dopravě

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