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How to Plan and Run Flexible and Demand Responsive Transport Guidance


6.0 Funding and Partnership

6.1 Travel demand must be paid for, so booking a demand responsive service implies that the passenger, or someone acting on the passenger's behalf is prepared to pay for the full cost of the trip through fares or a combination of fares and subsidy, so that there is a sustainable basis for operating the service. Sustainability is most likely to be achieved if best use can be made of vehicle resources by developing partnerships.

Partnership on Social Services
The 'EasyBoarder' services around Stirling, provide off-route stops for social services clients using the service to access day centres

6.2 Under Sections 63 and 88 of the 1985 Transport Act, local authorities are required to consider co-ordination of passenger transport to achieve best value for their transport expenditure to meet public, education and social work needs.

6.3 There have been some successes in applying DRT techniques to aligning different needs in shared service provision, but this is an area of transport management where a step change is needed in levels of partnership working.

Best value service delivery

6.4 Best value depends on the extent to which people's needs are met - not just how efficiently a particular vehicle fleet is run. In considering the potential for partnership and the scope for DRT to provide more flexible and integrated approaches, synergies between trip making should be assessed for:

  • Commercial public transport including concessionary fares provision
  • Supported bus services
  • Social services transport
  • Specialised home to school transport
  • Dial a Ride services for disabled users
  • Private taxi and community transport solutions funded by public agencies
  • Non emergency patient transport services, particularly that part with low care requirements
  • Other community transport schemes.

6.5 No sector can take on the operational duties of another without receiving appropriate funding. Also many organisations have concerns about accountability if they seek to work jointly with other publicly funded bodies. Sometimes it is easier to achieve partnership working if services are procured jointly from a third party. However, not all remits or responsibilities are tightly defined, and there is a significant amount of discretion in respect of DRT provision, particularly for social welfare and social inclusion purposes, which needs to be explored at a local level to identify the potential for joint working.

6.6 When considering which needs should be funded by which public agency, it is important to distinguish between the core agency remits, their discretionary powers, and their policy objectives which may be met through the provision of DRT services in response to the different dimensions of social, geographical, and high care needs of travellers.

6.7 For example, eligibility for free non-emergency patient transport services in Scotland, progressively depends upon more tightly defined medical criteria (reflecting the original government guidance), but this implies that other ways will be found for patients to get to hospital. To an extent this is met by individual NHS Boards having hospital travel cost schemes and other initiatives to enable people to gain access to health services, but the role of these is reflected by the availability of public and community transport.

6.8 Similarly, in each local authority area social services funders will target particularly sensitive local care needs, with an increasing pressure to focus on those with the greatest needs. Again, the ability of people to get around who are on the margin of social services interest may depend upon the availability of suitably designed community and public transport services.

6.9 The central role of the transport authority is to clarify which agency is funding which trips, and work with partners to deliver the services in the most efficient way.

Funding sources

6.10 There are many fully commercial DRT services such as taxis, airport transfer services, private hire cars and other high value markets where users cover the full cost of operation. Where fares charged to users cannot cover the full cost, then public agencies can support services in a number of ways. One option is to purchasing individual trips on behalf of the user. This sometimes represents the best value approach but in many cases better value, or the ability to meet particular needs more effectively can be achieved by procuring new services for high care needs, fixed bus service replacement, and to meet other requirements.

6.11 As an evolving mode, DRT is demonstrating that its flexibility can be used to draw funding from many sources. With multi-source funding, sustainability beyond the initial funding periods needs to be managed to ensure ongoing commitment. A key part of DRT management should therefore be the fundraising activities to ensure that each beneficiary from the transport provision contributes an affordable level of funding. Therefore if usage from one particular group of people grows, it is important to ensure that funding is available to support sustainable this growth in the long term, which may include increasing costs to some users to manage demand to sustainable levels.

Table 6.1 - Funding Sources



Scottish Executive Transport Funding

  • Bus Route development Grand supporting the transitional costs of developing commercial DRT networks and services.
  • (Rural/urban) Community Transport Initiative
  • Concessionary fares scheme for registered DRT services.

Scottish Executive Other

  • Futurebuilders funding
  • Social inclusion funding for rural exclusion, regeneration and community planning (various programmes)

Local Authority Transport

  • Supported services transport funding
  • Community transport funding
  • Concessionary fares/Taxicard

Local Authority Education

  • Special Needs Transport services
  • School Transport services

Local Authority Social Services

  • Funding to meet travel needs of social services clients

Local Authority Other

  • Economic development
  • Regeneration
  • Voluntary sector
  • Youth services
  • Leisure services

Jobcentre Plus

  • Travel Information and Journey Planning Fund for improving travel information and journey planning in Jobcentre Plus offices.
  • Travel to Interview Scheme covering claimants for local journeys costing over £4 on a discretionary basis.
  • Transport Projects Fund to support employment-related transport projects.

NHS Scottish Ambulance Service

  • As commissioners of transport for patient needs

NHS Health Boards

  • Hospital travel costs scheme
  • Re-imbursement of journeys for staff
  • Staff travel needs as part of hospital travel plans
  • GPs and health centre budgets

Private businesses

  • As part of employee travel schemes
  • Helping employees attend for unsociable hours.


  • National Lottery grants
  • Local grants
  • Community funding
  • Charitable donations