Rural and Demand-Led Transport

Rural areas present challenges when it comes to providing public transport services. Their distinctive characteristics, with low population densities and wide geographic catchments, mean providing commercially viable bus services can be exceptionally difficult.

The development of new technology and the growing acceptance of ‘on demand’ services mean that demand-led transport services are becoming an ever more attractive part of the rural and urban transport mix to respond to specific needs.

Call Connect

These flexibly operated Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) services are shaped around user needs, allowing for greater operational efficiency and a more tailored passenger service that complements fixed-route services and adds to the wider public transport network.

Our team of experts work with clients to understand their transport challenges, and offer advice and assistance in implementing bespoke solutions to address the transport needs, be it through conventional services, demand-led services, or other more innovative solutions.


  • Service planning and design
  • Demand modelling and business case assessments
  • Service evaluation
  • Strategic advice, partnership development and organisational reviews
  • Transport co-ordination and achieving a ‘Total Transport’ approach

Enhancing rural accessibility in Gloucestershire 

ITP was appointed by Gloucestershire VCS Alliance to undertake a feasibility study to scope demand responsive car sharing platforms as a means to support rural accessibility and social cohesion. We undertook extensive research into technological solutions to inform the software specifications required for assembling a pilot scheme. A clear ‘three-pronged approach’ comprising the need for tailored software specifications, community engagement and trip making characteristics, was developed to overcome cultural and perceptual barriers to car sharing and to ‘normalise’ it as an activity. 

As well as integrating with existing initiatives, the aim was to work across stakeholders in health, education, community and public transport to help transfer intelligence and build the foundations for delivery. The success of the study led to ITP being involved in the delivery of the proposed software solution with a local SME, Esoterix.

Carma Project

Rural Mobility Fund Bids

In response to the DfT’s invitation to bid for the Rural Mobility Fund, ITP assisted Bedford Borough and Nottinghamshire, Gloucestershire, and Leicestershire County Councils in developing their Expressions of Interest. The bids centred around DRT (both fully flexible and semi-flexible) services in rural and suburban areas, providing a transport solution which was dynamic, responsive, and inclusive. The DRT services were designed to fully integrate with the wider public transport network, and to meet specific requirements in each area. Expanding the remit to include serving new developments; employment sites; and leisure activities, was also explored.

Different software solutions were considered in each case, enabling a range of operators to participate; allowing online bookings and payments; providing real time information; and accepting bookings nearer the time of travel. This, along with providing a ‘stop-to-stop’ service, resulted in a greater operational efficiency whilst providing an attractive service to users.

Gloucestershire Rural Public Transport Review

Rural areas can present a problem for public transport provision, as the geography is such that commercial services are unlikely to be viable.

Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) commissioned ITP to provide expert advice on ways to enhance public transport provision in the rural areas of Forest of Dean and north-east Cotswolds, where existing public transport options were limited. We undertook a review of the existing public transport network, demographics and deprivation, alongside a review of best practice from other local authorities, which led to the development of two pilot DRT schemes.

Our support helped to establish a DRT model for bridging the gap in rural transport provision in Gloucestershire, and which formed the basis of the Rural Mobility Fund bid, which ITP helped to prepare.

Stagecoach Bus
Go Local North Yorkshire

Re-branding DRT in North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire County Council commissioned ITP to develop a strategic brand for its community transport services to re-position DRT as a service to be used by all, and to unite operators as a family of service providers working together to increase transport options in rural communities.

We worked in partnership with the county council and 35 community transport operators providing DRT services to scope and develop an overarching brand and marketing plan to raise awareness of their services, influence local perceptions, and increase usage across the county. The market-tested brand designs and three-year strategic marketing plan are being implemented by the county council and community transport service providers. Learn more. 

Durham Demand Responsive Transport

Durham County Council operated two types of DRT service (Link2 and Access Bus). It wanted to  review the performance of these services to determine whether alternative, more cost-effective models could maintain or enhance provision.

ITP completed an in-depth review of the services; we analysed detailed trip data, challenged the status quo, researched other DRT models across the country (identifying success factors) and considered ways of delivering the services differently, so they would be relevant to a wider user base. A series of recommendations were made for an integrated service that met wider needs and was delivered in a more flexible way, drawing on different available resources. 

Durham Drt