Scenario Series No.1 - Market Lavington, Wiltshire, UK
Welcome to the first of WeDRT’s Scenario Series. For each edition, we will analyse one case study for the implementation of Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) in that area. These may be real-life or fictional locations. Based on our experience in launching and scaling DRT, we will provide a hypothetical solution to the local challenges for public transport in the chosen area. We hope you enjoy this series of content, and we hope it prompts discussion and opinions in the comments. Please get in touch if you would like any further information about any of the scenarios we analyse.
Proposed DRT Zone:
Population within DRT zone: 61,582
Approx. Area of DRT zone: 240 sq. miles
The case for DRT in Market Lavington and the surrounding area:
For our first scenario, we will be analysing a rural zone wedged between Bath, Andover and Swindon, located in the county of Wiltshire in the United Kingdom. While it is relatively close to major towns, the public transport network does not provide wide coverage of the area. The zone is made up of a large number of small rural towns and then some larger rural towns that act as transport hubs into the wider network. Nevertheless, as seen below, using the existing bus network to travel to nearby larger towns has serious limitations.
Example of existing fixed route bus network challenges for residents:
- Market Lavington > Bath = 2hr 9min - Buses: 2 > 33 > X31
- Market Lavington > Andover = 2hr 54min - Buses: Line 2 > activ8
- Market Lavington > Marlborough = 1hr 52min - Buses: Line 2 > 33 > 55 Gold
We have used Market Lavington as the central location marker in this scenario. However the challenges in transport prevail throughout the zone to a lesser or greater degree. The key challenge here is: How to connect the residents within the zones to the larger towns on the outskirts and therefore into the wider transport network?
Why is this important:
Access to cheap and reliable public transport is a key driver of inclusive economic growth. People who live in both urban, peri-rural and rural areas should have the same opportunities to access areas of greater economic prosperity. In this way, public transport is one of the keys to socio-economic development and equality within societies.
Typically rural areas have been very difficult to service from a fixed-route public transport perspective. Which has led to communities being isolated from jobs and opportunities by only having access to expensive, long and infrequent journeys on fixed route buses. Because of this, single-occupancy cars were the only option, and with the rise in the cost of fuel this is becoming more and more inaccessible to those who need to travel the most.
However, advances in technology have enabled a new era of public transport buses in the rural and peri-rural landscape. Now, these once isolated communities, could be efficiently linked up to the wider transport network through DRT.
WeDRT Proposed Service Solution:
WeDRT's proposed solution to this would be a large DRT zone that encompasses numerous larger towns on the outskirts of the Zone, and points of interest programmed to key hubs just outside of the Zone, for example, Trowbridge.
The estimated number of vehicles for this Zone has been based upon other DRT schemes that we operate that have similarities in population density and zone area size when scaled, particularly in our Cheshire West and Chester DRT. We have applied the below formula to the calculation for Market Lavington Zone.
Therefore, based on this formula, we estimate a 6 vehicle DRT service is required to serve the Market Lavington DRT Zone.
Vehicles of Choice:
WeDRT is happy to work with any vehicles that the local authorities want to use. Whether this is electric, hybrid, or diesel. However, we also suggest that if longevity and cost-effectiveness are desired for the scheme, it is best to avoid low-floor electric vehicles (for now). We tend to suggest 16 seater accessible minibuses (such as Mercedes Trekas), or 9 seater accessible minibuses (such as Peugeot Travellers) as ideal vehicles for DRT services, or a mixture of both. Our reasoning for this is two-fold:
- These are cheaper vehicles and, therefore, more money can be allocated for a longer trial period. When the local authority has more time running the trial, they have more data to analyse demand-trends and use these for feedback loops.
- Much lower lead time for these vehicles in comparison to others and, therefore, the local authority can launch the service sooner.
WeDRT has valuable experience in launching and scaling DRT services across the UK. This experience has provided us with the knowledge to understand the challenges that local councils face when approaching DRT in rural and semi-rural areas. We consult with transport planning and local authorities, themselves often on the feasibility of DRT services.
We believe that the Market Lavington zone details in this article would greatly benefit from the DRT scheme like the one proposed. We calculate that a 6-vehicle service would provide essential coverage to those inhabitants within the zone. On top of this, a DRT service of this nature would act as a feeder service to existing fixed-route services that would connect up with the wider transport network. In our opinion, this is a necessity and not a luxury for the inhabitants of areas like this to access the same opportunities as others within the county.