Demand responsive bus services, bike pools and car sharing are some of the ideas being considered for the future of transport in Shetland.
Robina Barton, transport policy and projects officer at the SIC, has outlined a number of potential changes to the existing service.
Speaking at last night’s Lerwick Community Council she said: “Transport is getting really interesting at the moment.
“I think we will be seeing some quite dramatic changes in the next few years.”
Among the more intriguing suggestions was a move from fixed bus routes towards “demand responsive” solutions, using technology.
Council member Stewart Hay had highlighted similar schemes in other areas, which he described as a “kind of community Uber”, referring to the app-based ride-hailing company, available in large cities.
Mr Hay said that during the pandemic there had been plenty of buses but, understandably, not many passengers on board.
He suggested that any review could therefore be an ideal opportunity to look at delivering transport driven by people’s needs, rather than buses following specific routes at allotted times around the island.
Ms Barton said the work to investigate such transport models was “already underway”.
She said it would use technology to carry out realtime analysis of the transport networks and available vehcicles to determine how they can best be used.
Ms Barton said the SIC was currently in discussions with a company called ViaVan, which has provided such schemes in places including Sevenoaks.
At the start of the pandemic, the Kent town changed all its fixed routes into demand responsive services.
It allows a user to call up or use an app to say where and when they want to travel and for a vehicle to be sent within 500 yards of them at a stated time.
“That’s a model we would like to explore,” Ms Barton said.
“We’re asking them to do a piece of work for us to do some modelling on how that demand responsive service could operate and which bits of the fixed network it might be able to work with.”
Ms Barton also highlighted possible schemes for bike pools and peer to peer car sharing, via apps.
The discussion was part of an update on the SIC’s far transport review.
She said the council’s “overarching aim is to try and encourage people out of cars, particularly single occupancy cars.
“So that means we want to encourage people to either used shared transport, public transport or active travel.
“And the challenge that we have is actually linking those up.”