Dial-a-Ride service expansion

Basic Information





The VIVALDI measure included the expansion of Dial-a-Ride into a previously unserved area; the use of new clean-fuel vehicles; and the introduction of a new booking and scheduling system.

Implementing sustainable mobility

Bristol Dial-a-Ride is a charitable not-for-profit organisation that provides a demand-responsive transport service for mobility-impaired travellers.

At the commencement of VIVALDI, Bristol Dial-a-Ride provided a service for 27 of the 36 city wards, using 10 fully accessible vehicles. The service had some 9,500 registered members who were able to book door-to-door journeys in advance at the cost of the equivalent bus fare. They now have 10,500 registered members. As part of VIVALDI, a package of improvements to the Dial-a-Ride service was proposed, the key improvement being its extension to a new area of the city. Prior to the project, the Bristol Dial-a-Ride fleet comprised vehicles running on diesel. For the new area, a clean-fuel vehicle was planned, with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as the preferred option. A review of LPG vehicles registered by the Energy Savings Trust (a UK organisation established to promote the take-up of clean-fuel vehicles) identified the Mercedes Sprinter as a vehicle capable of LPG conversion, which would meet operational requirements.


The first LPG vehicle and the new service area were launched in August 2002, and by May 2003 it had 360 registered new members. The use of LPG was reviewed during the first six months of use and was found to be operationally acceptable, although some issues regarding facilities for refuelling required resolution. On this basis three further LPG vehicles of a similar type were put into operation, replacing older diesel vehicles as part of fleet renewal. The Bristol Dial-a-Ride service allows users to pre-book journeys via a telephone operator, with most journeys being requested the day before travel (advance bookings are taken for hearing-impaired people or those without a telephone).


The expansion of the Dial-a-Ride service and the new clean-fuel LPG vehicles were introduced and operated by the staff of Bristol Dial-a-Ride, whilst the new booking and scheduling system was introduced jointly with the city council.

Users of the Dial-a-Ride service were extremely satisfied with the service provided and valued it as a safe mode of transport that provides them with freedom and independence. For many users, journeys would be difficult, and in some cases impossible, without the service.

The emission reduction benefits of the LPG vehicles, even with increased fuel use, were significant for NOx (a 75 percent reduction), although this was accompanied by a slight increase in CO2 emissions.   

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