The future for Demand Responsive Transport

Planning Transport Futures Today SYSTRA and Landor webinar series - Demand Responsive Transport episode graphic. The graphic is of a cityscape during the daytime. A stickman is pictured  standing next to a road, holding a phone, waiting for a shared taxi service to arrive. The taxi is pictured next to the stickman.

21 Mar 2024

The Future of Demand Responsive Transport’ will be chaired by SYSTRA’s Bus and Ticketing Projects Director Cathryn Jones alongside an expert panel, including SYSTRA Principal Consultant Richard Jeremy.

Digital Demand Responsive Transport services have been trialled across the UK in recent years, supported by trial funding from the national governments. However, as the trial funding ends, many local transport authorities (especially rural ones) have indicated the likely end of these services, as the subsidy cost per passenger head is much higher than supported bus services, and councils in the UK face funding shortfalls.

The panellists will discuss whether there is a ‘second-generation’ digital demand responsive transport, which provides reliable services but uses existing infrastructure, such as taxi-sharing, NHS non-emergency transport, community transport and current DRT services where well-used, connected with apps and innovative ticketing and complementing bus and rail, and whether this can provide a quality solution and reduce costs?

One strength of DRT is that it’s not limited to fixed lines, it can goes where people need to go for all kinds of trips, be they for education, health, leisure or business; even if those people live out of the way.

Some rural authorities in England began to explore “total transport” a decade ago, and in 2015 the UK Government allocated £7.6m for 37 pilot schemes. Following the pilots, which ended in 2016/17, the Department for Transport released a report looking at lessons learned

A cross-sector approach to the delivery of passenger transport services across local authority sectors is favoured by DRT operators, who have been experimenting with integrating DRT with community transport from some time. Pooling resources and expertise to deliver services that are better coordinated, integrated, and more efficient is an attractive proposition.

Public transport, home-to-school transport, special education needs transport and non-emergency healthcare transport are all, to a degree, demand-responsive transport forms, but right now DRT can only  influence one of them at a time because the teams operating these are running in silos.

This webinar will look at the potential of DRT under revised governance frameworks, using new technologies to manage vehicle supply, demand, costs and route optimisation.

Chair: Cathryn Jones, Associate Director, SYSTRA

Speakers include:

  • Alice Missler, Demand Responsive/ Community Transport Team Leader, Hertfordshire County Council
  • Louise Currie, Chief Executive Officer, Lydney Dial A Ride
  • Kiron Chatterjee, Professor of Travel Behaviour, Centre for Transport & Society, University of the West of England
  • Richard Jeremy, Principal Consultant, SYSTRA – read Richard’s views on DRT here

Integrated land use and transport planning

  • video

Integrated land use and transport planning: tools for understanding and predicting

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25 Jan 2024

New developments tend to get built on the sites that developers want to bring forward at the invitation of local authorities, rather than in the places that make most sense from an integrated and low-carbon transport perspective.

The way land use changes over time, not just physically but in terms of character (how it is used and inhabited by different communities), is hugely complex. To understand and predict how those changes will interact with, and feed back into, any development proposal or planning policy, we need new approaches and toolkits.

Planning is full of tough choices and compromises, but there are ways to encourage more effective integration of land use and transport planning. This webinar will showcase the options:

  • Create an evidence base: what critical mass is needed to make a bus service self-sustaining? How can planners be aware of all different accessibility requirements of different housing types? Has consideration been given as to how existing transport services could be integrated within new sites to encourage active travel and walkable neighbourhoods?
  • Bring together local authorities, developers and stakeholders such as National Highways, bus operators and future mobility providers to ensure they have the information they need to create the right sustainable transport strategy
  • Develop new, and improve existing, tools and technologies to better integrate land use and transport
  • Undertake place-based study to identify the optimal locations for effective, low-carbon strategies

Chair: Emma Anforth, Associate Director, SYSTRA

Speakers included:

  • Ed Parham, Director of Innovation and Design, Space Syntax
  • Amy Beasley, Senior Economic Development Manager, National Highways
  • Katie Adnams, Urban Innovation Team Lead, Connected Places Catapult
  • Tom Simpson, Land-Use Transport Interaction Modeller, SYSTRA


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Transport AI 2024: defining AI

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25 Oct 2023

Much is currently happening in the AI space as a plethora of chatbots, predictive text and natural language tools become available to the public for the first time. Many of these tools are already used by transport and planning professionals in their daily workflows – and many more efficiency-minded services are in the pipeline.

Specifically in the transport space, however, many tools and services that are branded AI have been around for years. For example, ANPR has been being used for decades as part of road management, speed enforcement and red light running. Machine vision image processing has also been in existence for years, with smart ITS camera managing image processing with little human input.

Asset monitoring using lidar, machine vision and other sensors has been in existence more than 10 years – in the US it’s a federal mandate to record the condition of every road every five years.

For the inaugural Transport AI event, we want to be clear on our interpretation of AI. Our suggestions are that it must include some element of machine learning, such that the more data that is available the more accurate the results, or algorithms that actively change based on specific conditions.

Therefore, this webinar will host a debate that establishes what AI is, after which we can determine – based on that definition – where AI is being used, as well as differentiate AI from any other programming application.


  • video

Future Fuels Webinar – 26 Sept 2023

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26 Sept 2023

Other than the grandiose goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, we still don’t have a plan on how to get there. Are we being led by big businesses that have a vested interest to promote their own technologies rather than reviewing the facts of what is right, wrong, beneficial to best support the UK business and consumer requirements.

Is the information we are receiving from big business accurate in terms of carbon footprint? Do we understand our return on carbon, if we undertake some of these proposed large infrastructure projects? Are we looking at our carbon utilisation holistically when we are making these core decisions? Is the information we are being given the most accurate reflection of reality?

Not to advocate one technology over another, but to be successful, we will need to embrace different technologies for different applications and understand that each technology will have its place in a future hybrid technology-fuelled world.

Chair: Jorgen Pedersen, Director of New Technology at SYSTRA.

Speakers included:

  • Kwame Bekoe, Commercial Director, Zero®Petroleum
  • Fiona Spowers, Co-Director, Riversimple
  • Kenneth Natanaelsson, lead, Electrical Road Systems, Swedish Transport Administration
  • Tom Reid, Policy Analyst, Renewable Transport Fuel Association

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