a comparison is made of the costs of operating dial-a-bus, minibus and conventional bus services. the costs are based on the standard nbc costing of the experimental dial-a-bus service in harlow and the fixed route services which succeeded it, but are analysed in such a way as to pertain to the general question of whether to operate minibuses or conventional buses. it is concluded that, although a minibus fleet can be operated at about 80 per cent of the cost of a fleet of conventional buses, small vehicles generally cannot be employed during the peak hours. thus even an off-peak minibus service must bear the full standing costs of the vehicles. this effect more than offsets the lower unit cost of the small vehicles for the operation of off-peak services. because of their small capacity, it is unlikely that minibuses could achieve sufficient productivity to cover their operating costs from revenue. the necessary provision of spare vehicles was found to represent a high standing cost for the operation of small minibus fleets. in addition, the control costs for a small dial-a-bus service resulted in costs of between 25 and 65 per cent more than an equivalent minibus service. in all cases, the resource costs of operating a bus service were found to be greater than the operator's costs.(a)

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