London explores demand responsive services

TfL is exploring the potential of using a new ‘demand responsive’ TfL bus service to enhance London’s public transport network.

TfL is approaching a range of businesses, including traditional bus operators and tech companies, to see if ride-booking technology can be used to create a new TfL bus service that complements the capital’s existing bus network. The services, for nine passengers or more, would not replace any existing TfL services.

Businesses are being asked to express their interest in trialling a new TfL service that would operate flexibly in an area in need of improved public transport. The partnership with TfL could, for example, be an on-demand minibus ordered through an app, or perhaps a service running on a semi-fixed route that can be diverted to pick up individual passengers. Similar services have already been rolled out in the capital, including Ford’s Chariot and Citymapper’s Smart Ride.

TfL believes a trial would help it better understand and assess how such services could complement the existing extensive bus network. It will also help TfL to set standards for a potential future TfL service around safety, accessibility, air quality, affordability, the use of concessions (such as the Freedom Pass) and customer service. It is proposed that the Mayor’s ‘minimum professional London bus driver wage’ and ‘Licence for London’ would apply to this trial. If the trial goes ahead it would involve a small number of vehicles and would be held in an area of outer London where car dependency is high and other forms of public transport are less viable. Any trial would run for no longer than 12 months.

TfL’s Director of Transport Innovation, Michael Hurwitz, said: “We want to understand the potential of new TfL demand responsive services to improve public transport for all Londoners. We are currently exploring the feasibility of a small demand responsive transport trial in areas of outer London where car dependency is higher and other forms of public transport are less viable. By approaching potential partners, we are engaging the market to establish interest in delivering a trial of a new TfL service. Any potential trial would be a new TfL service designed to support the existing local transport network, improve accessibility and London’s air quality.”

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