Busses gone, call a cab instead

Public busses travelling the countryside are almost empty and researchers predict the trend will continue

Hailing a cab instead of waiting for the bus might become commonplace in the future. Declining passenger numbers on busses in rural areas are forcing municipalities to think creatively and find more cost-effective ways to provide transportation.

Between 2000 and 2003, bus traffic in rural areas has declined by 4.5 percent according to an analysis by local transportation authorities.

Northern Jutland's Transport Authority has come up with a solution for the decline in passengers. Instead of regular bus service, an extensive dial-a-bus system of taxis provides pick-up and drop-off for passengers - at no extra cost to the customers.

The idea is to coordinate the public traffic so that the vehicles are always full. Customers have to be prepared to be picked up in groups and to wait while other passengers are dropped off.

'Coordinating community traffic with a publicly paid taxi service might just be the only way to maintain a public transit system in rural areas,' said Nicolai Sørensen, a route planning specialist with the transportation authority in northern Jutland.

Sørensen pointed to the cost benefits of replacing the bus in Lille Binderup, which had daily departures, with a dial-a-bus service. The switch has slashed the DKK 400,000 bill for operating the bus significantly.

'In 2003 we replaced the bus with a dial-a-taxi and it was not called so often. It has worked out to a yearly cost of DKK 500,' said Sørensen.

In Fjerritslev, west of Aalborg in northern Jutland, a similar system has been introduced. Two years ago, local buses were replaced by a dial-a-bus service. Customers call after the taxi and within a pre-determined time limit, people are picked up and delivered to their destination for the price of DKK 14 (adults) or DKK 8 (children).

Århus, Viborg and municipalities in southern Zealand and Jutland are also in the process of reorganising their public transportation and implementing similar systems.

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