Polish officials are studying Stirling Council's Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) to help them solve rural transport challenges faced in their homeland.
DRT links rural areas where there are few or no conventional bus services, operating like a taxi but charging close to the cost of a bus fare.
An international delegation of Polish officials and senior World Bank infrastructure experts visited the Council to learn from the way it provides flexible public transport solutions for rural populations using DRT schemes.
Rural Transport Service
During the visit, the Polish delegation engaged with public authorities, DRT operators, dispatchers, and used DRT services as customers. The knowledge exchange helped capture the essential elements of making DRT systems work effectively in practice.
Currently, Stirling Council manages nine operating rural DRT schemes, which enable customers to request transport over the phone or via website. The local authority’s dispatcher arranges service from point A to point B within designated DRT service areas to meet these needs.
DRT services also enable customers to make integrated longer distance trips by transferring to fixed route bus lines which also connect to railway services. This enables a greater number of residents to obtain access to public transport and improve people’s ability to access employment opportunities, government services, health, and education. DRT also helps to connect visitors who are seeking to access rural areas for purposes such as leisure and tourism.
The delegation of Polish officials included representatives from the Western Pomeranian Marshal's Office and poviats of Drawsko Pomorskie and Kamień Pomorski in Poland. The World Bank is currently working on public transport in the region under the advisory project “Catching Up Regions”, which is funded by the European Commission.
Convenor and Vice-Convenor of the Environment and Housing Committee, Councillors Jim Thomson and Danny Gibson, welcomed the group when they made their visit to Stirling Council Headquarters at Old Viewforth.
Convenor of the Committee, Cllr Jim Thomson, said: “We are happy to be a role model for other regions and countries when it comes to our public transport solutions. Whether it be to connect to a regular bus or train service, go to the shops, the doctor, work, visit friends or for tourists to visit local attractions, DRT helps people to get out and about in the community and we are glad to share our success for the benefit of others.”
Vice Convenor, Cllr Danny Gibson, said: “DRT is a shared service for everyone, regardless of age and disability, and is a benefit to those living in rural Stirlingshire who find it difficult to access mainstream public transport. During the visit we shared our experience on, among others, what technologies are needed for booking services and how to communicate with people in order to ensure the success of the service, and we hope these lessons and advice will be of help to our Polish friends.”
The World Bank
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. Its five institutions share a commitment to reducing poverty, increasing shared prosperity and promoting sustainable development.
World Bank Senior Transport Specialist Dominic Patella said: “The World Bank is very grateful for the support from Stirling Council to share their experience. We are also proud to be facilitating this knowledge in key areas of DRT operations that can be put to good use in Poland. For us, a development institution, we see an efficient public transport service as a key driver of regional growth and prosperity.”