Three in four large rural councils in England are rolling out demand-responsive transport (DRT) bus services but councils have warned that they are not financially sustainable or a substitute for government bus service subsidies.
The County Councils Network (CCN) said its survey found that while many councils are using DRT services – a type of bus service that users can book – to fill the gap left by dwindling mainstream bus services, 95% of services operate at a loss.
Fewer than 20% of councils said DRT services are financially sustainable to operate in the future.
The CCN said bus services are at a ‘historic low’ in county and rural areas, with more than one in four bus services 'vanishing' over the past decade and 344 million fewer journeys in 2022 as a result of reduced services.
It said its survey showed hundreds of thousands of journeys taking place on DRT services each year across county areas but argued that these are not a substitute for new investment in commercial bus routes.
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