A tool to aid redesign of flexible transport services to increase efficiency in rural transport service provision

Richard Mounce* (Corresponding Author), Steve Wright, David C Emele, Cheng Zeng, John D Nelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Rural areas generally have lower and more dispersed demands for travel which cannot sustain conventional public transport services and consequently have a greater number of flexible and demand responsive transport services operating. These services usually operate on a stand-alone basis, are often subsidized and are typically only accessible by certain passenger types or for specific trip purposes. This generally results in uncoordinated and inefficient transport provision overall. The Flexible integrated transport services (FITS) system featured in this paper has been designed to address this problem. FITS can be used as a planning tool to assess potential benefits from relaxing operating constraints (e.g., a service's operating boundaries), which can potentially suggest service redesign. It also includes the capacity to assign subsidy payments on a trip by trip basis to increase cost efficiency whilst meeting a greater proportion of transport needs. The case study in the paper focusses on transport to health in the Aberdeenshire and Morayshire areas of Scotland in the UK. Despite flexible transport operators receiving public funds to meet passenger needs, this is currently being supplemented by public bodies paying large amounts in taxi fares in instances where there is a statutory obligation to provide travel but where no other suitable transport service exists. The results demonstrate the potential substantial savings which could be realized by allowing transport operators to redesign their services by relaxing constraints and by the reassignment of subsidies: resulting in more passenger demands being met and a reduction in public spending on taxi fares.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
Journal Journal of Intelligent Transportation Systems
Issue number2
Early online date29 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • constraint relaxation
  • flexible transport system
  • rural transport
  • subsidy
  • surcharge


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