Shetland Council could follow Sevenoaks lead on demand-led public transport

Shetland Council is considering plans to introduce demand-led publuc transport, which would see buses running when there is the demand, rather than to a set timetable. Local transport policy officer Robina Barton told a meeting of Lerwick Community Council that ‘public mobility’ company ViaVan could be involved in exploring if this could actually work in Shetland.

“We are looking at asking them to do a piece of work for us to do some modelling around how that demand responsive approach could work in Shetland,” she said.

Last year ViaVan helped to implement on-demand bus services in Sevenoaks, Kent in response to less people using public transport in the pandemic. Now, under this system, people in Sevenoaks can book a spot on a bus through a mobile app, and it is said to be akin to a “shared taxi” – meaning that journeys will only take place as when and where required, reports Shet News.

Community councillor Stewart Hay noted that while some bus services in Shetland are busy, others are not. He said it was an ideal time to think about “how we can deliver transport to people at their needs”. Ms Barton also said she expected “quite dramatic changes” in the next few years when it comes to transport provision.

She added that car sharing and the opportunity for people to use a hired bike after coming off a bus are two other examples of how transport could alter in the future.

The pandemic has already encouraged local transport partnership ZetTrans to provide passenger numbers on Shetland’s buses to allow people to plan in advance in case they expect the service will be too busy.

Barton was speaking at the Lerwick Community Council to give members an update on an ongoing review into public transport fares. She highlighted there are two strands to this – setting a base fare, and deciding what discounts to add.

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