How Does Demand Responsive Transport Software Work?

Oct 1, 2020 | Insights

Demand responsive transport software (DRT Software), is the technology behind demand responsive transport services one of the most modern modes of transport today.  It is used by community transport operators, public transport authorities, public transport services and commercial bus operators.  The software allows for a demand responsive transport service to operate as efficiently as possible and is one of the most modern forms of transport, offering transportation services numerous transport options not usually available to them or the public.

The UK national lockdowns showed how important the movement of people are, and the impact this has on the quality and standards of people’s lives.

This personalised level of transport service enables the ability to fully optimise your existing resources and allows a real flexible structure to your service design.  This includes your vehicles and drivers to ensure your increased passenger demand can be met, provides alternative booking methods and generates flexible routes.  It also involves ensuring your staff are readily equipped with streamlined workflows and processes to work stress-free in order to deliver a real-time service.

To manually calculate all the permutations required to run a swift and responsive transport service, you need to use a trusted demand responsive transport software.

This article explores some of the benefits of using a demand responsive transport software such as Road XS.

How Does Demand Responsive Software Work?

Demand responsive transport software should be easy to use and power your flexible on demand service.

This means the interface should be intuitive, user friendly, modern and clutter-free so that you can see information clearly.

Once the DRT software is installed, all the user has to do is go to your service website or app and pick their desired date and time on the days of the week your service is running.  They can do this in advance or on the day itself depending on how you set your services up to operate.

Software for Transport Management

Once the passenger has picked the time, the software will either book the journey right away or suggest pickup windows around the time the passenger selected.

Once the passenger has chosen the time, the software then checks the availability of the vehicle and driver combination required. This is done by checking the status of each operator who is available for the job.

With the time confirmed, the software gets to work optimising the route to accommodate them on the trip, keeping all other passengers’ trips optimised too.  The demand-responsive transport software will then take into account the current traffic conditions on the road network and the predicted future demand.

The software then sends out an alert to all drivers and operators working at that time to let them know there’s a new booking coming through. The driver then receives a notification via text message or email letting them know they have an updated trip.

The DRT software will generate the optimal route based on the predicted demand and the current traffic conditions as well as factoring in existing passenger transit times.  It does this much faster than any manual process could do, in a matter of seconds.

Depending on how close the journey is to commencing and the type of DRT service you are running will determine how late to the point of starting the trip will update.  For example, some allow real-time updates, others prevent bookings within 24 hours.  It depends on the nature of the service being run.

The benefit of having real-time updates is that it allows for more flexibility when it comes to scheduling your drivers and vehicles. You can start your trip earlier than usual if necessary. If you have a large fleet of vehicles, you may not want to wait until the last minute to get started. Having real-time updates ensures you don’t miss any bookings.

Benefits of Software

Benefits of Demand Responsive Transport Software

In order to deliver an efficient transport service, you need to consider a number of factors. You need to pick a forward-thinking transport software which can adapt with you over time. The reason for this is that your services will always be changing, be it new contracts or increased demands, changing mobility needs or even legislative change to name a few. You need to ensure your services are always growing and moving forwards because this means your services then become more sustainable and can help more people in your local community! Word spreads fast this way!

Very often people use technology for technologies sake. However, demand responsive transport is so complex that it’s the technology that enables the service to happen in the most efficient manner. Just as without the Internet companies like Amazon and Facebook wouldn’t exist, without a user friendly, intelligent and adaptable transport software, true demand responsive transport can’t exist.

Here are just some examples of what using a transport software will help you achieve:

Increased Efficiencies and Resources

No doubt your services have only a finite amount of resources and yet your passengers continue to demand more and more from you. Well, the way to solve this is through group travel and rideshare. Not only is this good for the environment but it’s also good for people socially too! Think about all those conversations they can have on the bus or car together, that’s the social inclusion box ticked right there!

Not only that, if you’re using Road XS, you become more efficient because incredibly complex calculations are all factored in on your behalf so that you can confidently inform passengers of their estimated pickup windows based on the latest in transport software technology.  With demand responsive transport software you are opening up a whole host of transport options.

Arrival Times Get Smarter

No longer is your passenger waiting with an estimate of arrival, they are actually able to see where their ride and journey is before it even gets to them. This means that people gain a better sense of control and can get ready in advance, so they are literally ready on the dot! It also ensures that they are made aware of any delays too on the trip or if their pickup has to detour around some road works.  This improves customer satisfaction for public transport providers too.

Why Use Transport Software?

Improved Passenger Experience

By offering an integrated DRT software, you can integrate better within your passenger’s existing technology.  This means your passengers receive a frictionless experience in their ability to book services and receive updates on the transport service they have booked.  They don’t need to pick up the phone and speak to someone, they can simply open up a website or app and pick a date and time that works for them.

They can also do this during off-peak hours meaning less work for your transport operators too.  For community transport operators used to taking booking calls, this is also a way of reducing your workload from a passenger and driver perspective as the software is updating both users in real-time.

Expand Your Budgets

Within Road XS you can automate and optimise your fleet management, driver management and operating costs.  This means you can get your budgets to stretch further than ever before.  Once the software is deployed, the algorithm goes to work optimising your demand-responsive transport service, meaning all you have to do is make sure the vehicles are showing up.  This enables you to offer flexible routes and flexible services to better support the mobility impaired too as you factor in passenger loading times with your accessible vehicles, something not considered usually on public transportation (though it is getting better).

For community transport organisations, the technology in Road XS enables them to operate services they otherwise would not be able to and fill the gap where public transport accessibility may be lacking.  They also have the added advantage of not being tied to schedule-based services too which can help spread the cost of transport services through car-sharing and the technology in the software reducing mileage and saving community transport operators time.

What Makes a Really Great Transport Software

Increased Safety

When GPS is enabled and you embrace demand responsive transport, safety goes up. Why might you ask? Simply because in the worst-case scenario you experience a crash, you know exactly where that crash happened and can alert the emergency services of the precise location.

It means you have the last known location of the vehicle at all times during a journey. We’ve made this even easier in Road XS with the integration of What3Words (which means any GPS position can be communicated by just mentioned 3 words for anywhere in the world).  This means that your flexible routes still remain safe to operate even though they don’t follow conventional routes.  With higher safety considerations, this opens doors for more people to gain access to services who ordinarily would not be able to travel or even be able to with a commercial bus operator.  This is of real benefit to community transport organisations.

It’s Good for the Environment

Your mileage and carbon footprint drop with demand responsive transport because you are running from optimised routes and you are utilising fewer vehicles at any given time. So this means you don’t have to send out a second vehicle to pick someone up you can just slot someone into an existing route which is already pre-planned or slotted in on demand.

Reduce the Booking Window

With demand responsive transport you can reduce your booking window so you don’t have to have passengers book in advance. You can have a passenger book say a journey within 20 minutes because the demand responsive transport software knows the location of active drivers close to the passenger’s given location. This means you can better handle unscheduled cancellations better because you can then reallocate those drivers and cover the gaps left by unforeseen events.

Podcast: The Pros and Cons of GPS Technology

Get Detailed Reports on How Services are Operating

With DRT software you can receive real-time updates on how your transport services are operating, how efficient they are and where you can squeeze more from your services.  You can also learn which areas are seeing the highest journeys too.  This enables you to respond quickly in the event of a crisis.


As our transport needs change over time we start to see new patterns of where demand for transport services comes from.

During the UK national lockdown and local lockdowns it became apparent how important the movement of people are, and the impact this has on the quality and standards of people’s lives.

People need to get to places. The means by which we go about doing this are changing. The way we share rides in the future may be very different to what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergence of demand responsive transport will potentially pave the way for a whole new transport experience for passengers to better support our local economies and our environment.

With Road XS we’re leading the way providing transport managers and providers access to software which is right at the cutting edge. We’re taking away all the complexities surrounding route planning, scheduling and delivering a seamless user-friendly experience. This keeps you in complete control and provides the confidence you need to keep meeting your passenger’s individual needs.

The future started here.

To find out more feel free to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. Why not check out the Road XS Podcast here.  You can also find out more about demand responsive transport and how it is replacing conventional bus services in our article here.


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