Why most DRT/Micro-Transits fail – What the survivors tell us about progress

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - demand responsive transit, operations - performance, policy - disability


Micro-transit, DRT, Demand responsive transit


Media often reports demand responsive transit (DRT) and ‘micro-transit’ (MT) as ‘re-inventing’ conventional fixed route transit but rarely report financial data on DRT/MT performance or note their high failure rates.

This paper reviews DRT/MT systems performance with particular focus on failure rates. Results show DRT is very failure prone; 50% last less than 7 years, 40% last less than 3 years, and about a quarter fail within 2 years. In the UK, 67% of DRTs have failed, and in Australasia, 54%. Results identify and explore three distinct phases of global DRT development since the 1970s; recent MT are most failure prone (50% fail within 2 years).

Results show a strong link between failure and higher costs. Specialist DRT services for disabled people were relatively cheaper while MT was found to have higher and increasing costs. Results imply simpler (e.g., many-to-few or route deviation) operations had lower failure rates compared to more complex many-to-many services.results.

Conclusions suggests that despite 40 years of experience, the high failure rate of DRTs suggest they are still a high cost, experimental, uncertain and unreliable solution for cities. The paper explores policy implications of these findings and areas for future research.conclusion.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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