POLISH officials are studying Stirling Councils’ Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) to help them solve rural transport challenges faced in their homeland.

DRT links rural areas where there are few or no conventional bus services, operating like a taxi but charging close to the cost of a bus fare.

An international delegation of Polish officials and senior World Bank infrastructure experts visited the Council to learn from the way it provides flexible public transport solutions for rural populations using DRT schemes.

During the visit, the Polish delegation engaged with public authorities, DRT operators, dispatchers, and used DRT services as customers. The knowledge exchange helped capture the essential elements of making DRT systems work effectively in practice.

Currently, Stirling Council manages nine operating rural DRT schemes, which enable customers to request transport over the phone or via website. The local authority’s dispatcher arranges service from point A to point B within designated DRT service areas to meet these needs.

DRT services also enable customers to make integrated longer distance trips by transferring to fixed route bus lines which also connect to railway services. This enables a greater number of residents to obtain access to public transport and improve people’s ability to access employment opportunities, government services, health, and education.

DRT also helps to connect visitors who are seeking to access rural areas for purposes such as leisure and tourism.

The delegation of Polish officials included representatives from the Western Pomeranian Marshal's Office and poviats of Drawsko Pomorskie and Kamień Pomorski in Poland. The World Bank is currently working on public transport in the region under the advisory project “Catching Up Regions”, which is funded by the European Commission.

Convenor and Vice-Convenor of the Environment and Housing Committee, Councillors Jim Thomson and Danny Gibson, welcomed the group when they made their visit to Stirling Council Headquarters at Old Viewforth.

Cllr Thomson said: “We are happy to be a role model for other regions and countries when it comes to our public transport solutions.

"Whether it be to connect to a regular bus or train service, go to the shops, the doctor, work, visit friends or for tourists to visit local attractions, DRT helps people to get out and about in the community and we are glad to share our success for the benefit of others.”