Transport for London (TfL) recently launched a consultation on plans to trial an innovative ‘on-demand’ bus service in Sutton in South London. The new service will let people or groups use an app to book seats on a minibus that will stop at more convenient locations, including areas not currently served by public transport. The on-demand service is proposed to run from 6.30am to 9.30pm, seven days a week and would carry up to 14 passengers. Passengers would benefit from a guaranteed seat, free WiFi and USB charging points and flexible stops within a certain area.
The consultation is asking Londoners for their views on the specific area of Sutton that the service should cover and suggested stopping points. The trial, which will last for a year, will help TfL gauge the level of interest for an on-demand service and assess how it would work alongside the existing public transport network in Sutton.
Sutton was chosen because it has relatively high car dependency, and TfL believes the service could encourage people to switch to a more sustainable way of travelling. In doing so, it will improve London’s air quality and reduce congestion. The Euro VI buses will meet the Mayor’s tough Ultra Low Emission Zone standards, and also accommodate wheelchairs – improving accessibility.
As well as using the app, passengers will also be able to book trips over the phone. The cost of using this new type of transport will be slightly higher than a traditional bus to reflect a better experience for customers. London’s Freedom Pass, a free travel pass for London residents aged 60 and over or who have a disability, will be accepted on these new services.
After a competitive bidding process, ViaVan and Go-Ahead have been chosen to operate the trial. TfL will be tapping into the expertise of the successful bidders’ collective knowledge of app development and many years’ experience operating the largest part of the bus network in London.
TfL is also exploring the possibility of delivering a second on-demand bus trial to provide further evidence about the initiative’s viability.
Drivers for the new innovative service will receive the same pay and conditions as other London bus drivers. This includes the Mayor’s ‘Licence for London’, which guarantees a pay grade equivalent to their level of service and experience.
For further information: Mr Steve Newsome