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Inverurie chosen as pilot area for Demand Responsive Transport initiative

By David Porter

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Following a virtual engagement to gather views around a new Demand Responsive Transport initiative, Aberdeenshire Council is to drive forward with plans for a pilot scheme in the Inverurie area.

The local authority had been keen to explore the possibility of introducing the new approach in the Inverurie and/or Deeside areas to replace traditional fixed-route timetabled bus services.

A2B bus services will see a change in how they are operated in Inverurie.
A2B bus services will see a change in how they are operated in Inverurie.

However a spokesman said; "It has not been possible to make a sound financial case for a potential Deeside DRT service so regrettably this cannot be progressed at present.

"The proposed service will be reconsidered at a future date when feedback received from Deeside residents through the recent engagement exercise will provide invaluable input."

More than 300 community responses were received to the engagement process, with 76 per cent of those responding feeling that this is a good time to try operating a different type of bus service, while 82 per cent said that if DRT operated in their area they would use an app to book their bus, some or all of the time.

Unlike the council’s A2B dial-a-bus services, which has set booking times of 9.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday, customers will be able to book at any time using a smartphone app.

A2B dial-a-bus also requires a minimum of one-hour pre-booking, but the new DRT booking system will enable passengers to book a vehicle when they want to travel with the first available vehicle then dispatched.

The service will also cater for the needs of regular passengers wanting to book in advance.

The Passenger App will allow passengers to submit their transport booking requests, be provided with pick-up time and directions to their bus stop, see their bus on a map in real-time before it arrives and be advised of any bus delays.

The system will also provide the times of any other bus services operating in the area. Passengers without a smartphone who are unable to use the Passenger App may phone or email the Council’s Passenger Transport Unit to book their bus.

Transport operators are now being invited to tender to provide an enhanced DRT service in the Inverurie area from August 2021 involving five minibuses operating Monday to Saturday.

The Inverurie DRT service area extends as far as the settlements of Insch, Rothienorman, Oldmeldrum, Kintore, Kemnay and Monymusk,

Fixed route bus services which are proposed to be withdrawn and fully or partly replaced by the new DRT service include the 22 Inverurie Town; 240 Saturday service and 416 weekly shopper bus Rhynie - Auchleven – Inverurie; 41 Insch – Inverurie; 308 Turriff - Rothienorman – Inverurie; 421 Alford – Kemnay – Inverurie; and the 49 route section between Oldmeldrum and Inverurie.

It is also intended that two minibuses normally used for A2B dial-a-bus during interpeak hours Monday to Friday will operate dial-a-bus in the Inverurie area for people who require a door-to-door service due to reduced mobility or because they live outside the Inverurie enhanced DRT area.

Proposals are also being drawn up to offer the choice of using the new Passenger App to users of the successful Central Buchan A2B dial-a-bus service which currently operates Monday to Saturday.

Ewan Wallace, head of Transportation, explained: “I am delighted to see plans for an enhanced Demand Responsive Transport pilot scheme being progressed.

"We are confident this scheme will provide an improved and more flexible type of service for many passengers.

“Unfortunately we cannot, at this time, proceed with the Deeside option owing to both cost and operational issues.

"However, these may change in the Covid-19 recovery period and it may therefore be possible to revisit the option in the future.”

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