Sat, Jun 09, 2012 - Page 2 News List

New transport for remote areas

CONNECTING COMMUNITIES:Plans to allow villagers in remote areas to pre-book buses are proving popular and the scheme is set to expand to other ill-served regions

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) could implement a demand responsive transit service (DRTS) in remote areas in the future given that the service has been proven to be effective in meeting the needs of people living in out-of-the-way areas, the Institute of Transportation (IOT) said yesterday.

Wang Mu-han (王穆衡), chief of the institute’s transportation operations and management division, said residents in the remote areas often have to wait a long time for buses and, as a result, they are less motivated to move around and rely heavily on their own motor vehicles. Highway bus operators, on the other hand, are unwilling to dispatch more buses to the remote areas because of the lack of passengers.

Wang said the ministry decided to conduct a two-month experiment on the DRTS in Taoyuan County’s Fusing Township (復興) last year.

“The town has only 10,000 residents, but it is the largest administrative area in Taoyuan,” he said.

“The town has eight bus routes, but the buses only run in the morning, at noon and at early evening. On average, each bus serves about eight passengers.” Wang added, saying that passengers are mostly students or elderly citizens. While students need the buses to go to schools, elderly citizens depend on public buses to utilize health services or go shopping, he said.

Wang said that the DRTS was designed to serve passengers leaving at periods when no bus service is available, adding the bus company must still dispatch the buses based on their regular bus schedule.

According to Wang, the experiment required passengers to make reservations the day before their scheduled bus trip and the bus company would also have to confirm with passengers via phone calls or text messages.

“They do not have to arrive at the bus stop and bus drivers can pick them up at the time and the locations closest to them,” Wang said.

Wang added that the experiment could help some passengers save more than two hours waiting for a bus.

The bus company was also able to lower its vacancy rate.

“Some elderly citizens may finish their visits at the health clinic by 9:30am, and now they do not have to wait until 1pm to catch the bus home,” Wang said.

In addition to Fusing, Yilan County Government and Greater Kaohsiung Government have also applied to undertake a similar survey, he said.

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