Exploring what DRT is and is not in today’s world
Urban sprawl or the geographical extension of cities and towns into single-use zones such as residential areas has had a consequential effect on the realm of transportation.
As residents move further away from their places of work and entertainment for reasons such as more affordable housing, better standards of living, or better infrastructure, the average number of hours they spend on the road has increased.
In a country such as Malaysia, this means that suburban to rural areas are often left out of mass transit development plans, such as railways or metro lines, simply because they are not economically viable, thereby forcing citizens to rely on their own private vehicles instead of public transportation.
The most common form of sustainable transportation would be buses. However, public buses are notorious for their unreliable schedules and are restricted to certain fixed routes and timetables. Getting to a bus stop also becomes a challenge in itself. This has caused Malaysians to largely depend on private vehicles for commuting and day-to-day transport.
But the use of private cars is becoming less efficient due to congestion, the unavailability of parking spaces, and single occupancy usage. This in turn is increasing carbon emissions and causing adverse effects on the environment, creating unsustainable cities.
So is there a way to solve this conundrum?
Software and algorithms are revamping transportation and mobility with an abundance of new services and models, some of which offer a suitable first- and last-mile solution that complements public transport.
With the surging number of services, it can be confusing to understand the difference and the potential effects of each service on Malaysia’s transportation dynamics.
One such software-driven service stands out: Demand-Responsive Transit (DRT). It has a big, disruptive potential using digital applications to meet sustainability goals in a cost-effective way.
Demand-Responsive Transit (DRT)
DRT is a solution that solves the perennial problem in public transport of matching supply and demand. A DRT service responds to variations in demand by adapting its route and schedule.
Mid-capacity vehicles are commonly used for DRT services and this can include buses, passenger vans, and MPVs.
The on-demand nature of DRT is powered by intelligent routing that is coupled with a geo-zoning strategy, both of which enable operators to optimize every trip, thereby minimizing empty runs.
Due to its flexibility, DRT can be used to optimize routes for school buses, workers’ transportation, shuttle services for malls/hospitals/hotels, and feeder bus/van services for public transport stations.