I was most interested to read that following a year long pilot in Sittingbourne, Kent, Arriva UK Bus have announced plans to launch a fleet of 6 luxury minibuses that will offer a demand responsive minibus Service in Liverpool. This will allow users to simply use an App to book their journey, chose pick up and set down point, and all done seemlessly, cash free, and literally with a click on the App.
This is quite an interesting move and it is planned that in conjunction with Mersey Travel the volume of vehicles will crank up to 25. The feedback following the trial was exceptionally positive with 50% of users opting to not use their cars anymore but use the Arrivaclick service. 61% of users used the services a few times a week or more. In addition 43% adopted the service for their regular commute. The average score from passengers was 8.3 out of 10 with a highly impressive 9 out of 10 saying that they would recommend the service to a friend.
All the Passenger needs to do is order and track the vehicle which will also advise them of the name of the driver, the App can also allow the Passenger to reserve a seat. The system is powered by a global ride sharing technology from Via, the algorithms will match passengers travelling in the same direction , and then dynamically route the vehicles in real time to find the optimal route for their trip.
The shortest and fastest routes are calculated with a gauranteed fare, and real time information on time of departure and arrival is provided.The vehicles also offer passengers with free wi- fi charging points and comfortable leather seats. This demand responsive service will be the biggest n the UK and it is intended to create over 70 jobs as the service is expanded over the next 12 months. It will be interesting to see just what sort of take up it receives, and if the service will impact on traditional bus services. Or, if it will generate a new type of user, namely die hard car drivers who will change their allegiance to the demand responsive bus, so taking more cars off the road and helping to improve air quality.
To be honest I have maybe somewhat unjustly never perceived Arriva as innovative, maybe because they have a rather bland livery but in fairness this is a really good service, and maybe this could well compliment traditional bus services rather than be seen as a negative as they seek to generate a new client base. As ever I will watch with interest, but yet again Mersey Travel are showing their colours as leaders when it comes to supporting the bus to combat congestion and air quality. And with recent wide spread investment in electric buses in London it strikes me that a positive but quiet revolution is taking place.