On-demand bus service

PUBLISHED: 09:35 08 November 2007 | UPDATED: 13:01 04 May 2010

AN innovative transport system providing buses on demand could be rolled out across the county. The project could see personalised bus or taxi services bookable in advance in rural areas, similar to the popular community Dial-a-Ride services. Despite bei

AN innovative transport system providing buses on demand could be rolled out across the county.

The project could see personalised bus or taxi services bookable in advance in rural areas, similar to the popular community Dial-a-Ride services.

Despite being declared a Centre of Excellence for transport by the Government, the county council is still unable to satisfy bus travellers across the county.

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.

Now officers have brought in an outside consultant, at a cost of £36,000, and they are working with him until February on plans which could transform bus travel.

The long-term project is already working successfully in Lincolnshire and it could offer better value for money from the 70 bus services subsidised every year by the taxpayer at a cost of almost £3 million.

There could also be 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, Cambridgeshire County Council 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, Cambridgeshire County Council's head of passenger transport, said: "The feedback on our website tells us that we are coming out about standard 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."

The "demand responsive" services will 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 dedicated routes on a particular timetable, where heavily-subsidised buses may only carry a handful of passengers during the entire day.

Two pilot schemes could be launched, probably in Huntingdon and Wisbech, to gauge public response to the new bus service for up to a year before a decision is taken whether to roll it out across the county.

Consultant Peter Greig-Smith, working with county officers on the new project, said: "Passengers should be able to book a journey last minute or up to a week in advance."

The scheme will be put before county council cabinet members this month.

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