The smart solution to rural transport
On-demand buses, ride-sharing and integrated services can help. Mark Smulian reports.
The old joke “Oh, the village has a very regular bus service – twice a week” may soon echo reality as local authority budget cuts leave less money available for subsidies. Operators tend to serve rural areas on a commercial basis only if they lie between large population centres, and maps of rural services now look distinctly moth-eaten.
If it is proving increasingly difficult to provide even a skeleton service in rural areas by using conventional buses, what are the prospects for unconventional ones?
Services based on expanding the concept of Dial-A-Ride, buses run by a university, on-demand minibuses, inter-modal links and even groups of neighbours sharing a minibus and driver are being tried, with varying success.