Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Polybus Development Associates (IT 10)


  The White Paper has a very brief mention of the function of taxis as a factor in public transport. It is our view that the "door to door" facility of the taxi offers the best approach to weaning the motorist away from the private car for SHORT journeys of up to seven miles which represent 80 per cent of all journeys by private car.

  However there are many problems to be overcome mainly price, reliability and 24 hour access. The enclosed appendix A describes the features which an alternative to the private car must provide if a proportion of drivers are to find the alternative attractive.

  Appendices B1 and B2 describe the POLYBUS system in brief and indicate how the necessary features can be obtained with a system which organises a number of shared vehicles each of which can carry passengers from and to up to four different origins and destinations within a 30 square mile area.

  Appendix C gives a resume of the features available from a system such as POLYBUS.

  The POLYBUS SYSTEM described in the attached papers, complements other modes of transport by using current technology to process the enormous amount of data required to provide a "demand responsive" system which is shared by the users.

  POLYBUS provides easy and reliable access to other modes of transport at rail and bus stations, bus stops, park and ride centres, out of town shops, hospitals, leisure centres and so on in a way which buses cannot. TRAINS, BUSES and TAXIS will benefit from the reduced use of the private car.

  The key to reduced car use is for the user to know that an alternative of equal or more comfort and convenience is available VERY quickly and that he, she or they can go to the station, shops etc., without any need to park or walk whatever the weather. If the car is left at home, ALL further journeys that day will be made by one or other form of public transport. If the alternative is not available, then, broadly speaking, NO further journeys that day will be made by any form of public transport.

  The POLYBUS SYSTEM requires a leap of imagination and an understanding of what is possible with small computers carried on the vehicle, but even more is the leap to the idea of a "door to door" service, 24 hours a day which is within the reach of everyone who can afford a telephone. The leap must be made by politicians at Government and Local levels to encourage the public servants to delve into the possibilities becoming available through the efforts of individual companies, so that the "stick" which is being wielded to reduce car use is balanced by the provision of a real alternative "carrot" which the conventional bus has been unable to provide. The White Paper does go a long way in opening up the transport discussion, but integration is a pious hope until the continuing fall in public road passenger transport use and provision is reversed.

  This response is more hurried, (and briefer,) than I would wish as I am about to leave for Sicily to a conference on the Promotion of the Rational use of Energy in Urban Public Transport Systems. POLYBUS improves the productivity of both the man, the machine and the energy used when compared to the car and with the increased use due to ease of access, of the bus and train.

Owen Ephraim

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