The Go Borders DRT trial
About this good practice
Go Borders is a rural Demand Responsive Transport (DTR) service booked and managed through a new app. This 12-month pilot is testing the software on three DRT routes south of the town of Selkirk, operated by Scottish Borders Council.
The pilot will deepen the Councils exposure to MaaS technologies and the role they can play in DRT, help develop the mindset and confidence in MaaS technology projects and provide recommendations for future DRT implementation.
The Go Borders service enables customers in areas which are not serviced by public transport routes access to on-demand transport through the ‘Go Borders’ smart phone app or the existing telephony service. Customers can book 24 hours in advance and receive notifications by text confirming bus arrival time.
The app shows real-time updates and allows customers to view and book journeys in a few clicks whilst also tracking the vehicle along its route by viewing live arrival information.
The back-office software allows transport management staff to track the location of the vehicles and see real time updates; it also provides oversight of all bookings and allows amendments to be made based on the live situation.
The pilot has already provided Scottish Borders Council with valuable insight into future services, for example; locations suited to this type of app solution, types of services (i.e. first/last mile), data insights, operating models, and commercial service requirements.
Pilot utilises two 16-seater minibuses, these are owned and operated by Scottish Borders Council. Each minibus in installed with a connected on-board routing unit. Management and back office services are undertaken by Scottish Borders Council, using licensed software from their solution provider.
Evidence of success
Significantly improved metrics collected on the DRT services, has provided beneficial oversight of services: detailed data on ticket sales, fuel economy, Origin-Destination data, customer metrics and feedback.
The software provides a customer safety overview, allowing real time monitoring of customers being dropped off and picked up, which is particularly useful in hours of darkness and poor weather conditions. This contributes to the social inclusion and welfare benefits of a rural DRT service.
Potential for learning or transfer
Rural digital connectivity challenges, there is no 4G or Wi-Fi in areas on the routes, the solution was to ‘packet’ information so that the in-vehicle device is constantly receiving & updating information, when the vehicle travels between valleys and picks up new telephone masts, data is transferred back to the central dispatch software.
Existing knowledge sharing between local authorities, this is Scottish Borders Council first app, Go Borders re-used the GDPR approach and terms & conditions required for an Apple & android app from another Scottish region, this saved time and avoided duplicating effort.
Appropriate level of customer information, it’s important to avoid customer messaging overload, the service automatically sends SMS messages, need an appropriate set of rules to trigger the most relevant update and tracking messages.
White label solution, rural DRT projects have many individualising characteristics, need to carefully evaluate the pros & cons of a white label solution.