AN innovative transport system providing buses on demand could be tested in Huntingdonshire before being rolled out across the county. The project would see personalised bus or taxi services, which could be booked in advance, available in the more rural a
AN innovative transport system providing buses on demand could be tested in Huntingdonshire before being rolled out across the county.
The project would see personalised bus or taxi services, which could be booked in advance, available in the more rural areas of the district.
Similar to the popular community Dial-a-Ride schemes, the "demand-responsive" service would operate by co-ordinating the numbers of passengers wanting to travel to the same area at the same time and organising a bus or taxi to take them.
If successful, it should cut down on the use of heavily-subsidised buses on routes that may carry only a handful of passengers during the entire day.
Cambridgeshire County Council is looking at launching pilot schemes in two areas - Huntingdonshire and Wisbech - to gauge public reaction. Each could run for up to a year before a decision is taken on whether to roll it out across the county.
The scheme was suggested by a consultant who was brought in by CCC - at a cost of £36,000 - to help further improve the county's bus services.
Despite being declared a Centre of Excellence for transport by the Government, the county council is still unable to satisfy some bus travellers.
In a survey they complained about reliability and punctuality of buses and 40 per cent of those questioned were not satisfied with information on services.
A responsive bus service is already working successfully in Lincolnshire, and it could offer better value for money in Cambridgeshire, replacing the 70 bus services subsidised every year by the taxpayer at a cost of almost £3 million.
The scheme will be put before county council cabinet members this month.
Consultant Peter Greig-Smith said: "Passengers should be able to book a journey last minute or up to a week in advance."
CCC may also create a centralised information point to provide a one-stop shop for passengers on all types of transport. The centre, either walk-in or virtual on the internet, would take bookings and handle complaints.
In the future, CCC could even tie up with health officials to ensure buses and ambulances or hospital cars are not making the same journeys at the same time.
Glenn Edge, the council's head of passenger transport, said: "The feedback on our website tells us that we are coming out well about standards on bus cleanliness, but people want improvements on punctuality and reliability.
"We have to accept that we are working in partnership with operators. The will is with them to work with us to improve services where we can.
"Those that we have spoken to think this is a good nugget of an idea.