Go-Ahead operator in ‘UK’s most ambitious demand-responsive bus service’
Go-Ahead owned Oxford Bus Company is to launch what it describes as the UK’s most ambitious demand-responsive bus service.
Launching on 25 June, the PickMeUp service will enable residents, workers and students in a 12.2 square mile area around Oxford to request a bus pick-up within minutes at a virtual bus-stop using a new mobile phone app. Operating across the city’s Eastern Arc, PickMeUp is designed to be cheaper than a taxi and more flexible than a bus. It will operate between 6.30am and 10.30pm Monday to Friday and between 9am and 8pm at weekends, with an expected average response time of around ten minutes. An introductory fare of £2.50 per journey will be charged, with a surcharge of £2.50 if the journey could be made via an existing bus route. Multi-journey passes will be available as well as corporate packages.
Oxford Bus Company has invested £850,000 in six Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City45 17-seat Euro VI minibuses, with wifi, USB charging points, wheelchair access and high-back seating for the service. The front-end and back-end technology for the service was developed in partnership with Via, a US based specialist in ride-sharing technology. The app will enable passengers to request a pick up and the minibus will go to the nearest safe pick up point. Journeys will be matched with others wishing to make similar journeys to enable ride sharing.
Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company MD, said: “Though we have great bus links to and from the City Centre from the Eastern Arc, for some time now connectivity has been a challenge for routes across the east of the city, and we believe our new service will help where traditional bus routes do not work commercially.”
Go-Ahead Group Chief Executive, David Brown, said: “We’ve listened closely to what the local community has been asking for in Oxford. Passengers are keen for a quick, easy and flexible way to get to work, to college or simply to travel around town. PickMeUp is intended to be a partnership model with local businesses, we want to help them get their staff to work in a quick, simple, convenient and cost-effective way. On a broader level, we firmly believe that ride-sharing is part of the solution to congestion and pollution in our towns and cities. It’s essential that we provide services that will tempt people out of their cars and technology will be key to that challenge.”