Transport for London (TfL) has announced plans to trial an “innovative on-demand bus service” in the borough of Sutton.
The scheme, which will allow passengers to book seats in advance using an app, aims to serve areas not currently covered by traditional public transport and is set to run between 6:30 AM and 9:30 PM seven days a week. The 14-seat minibuses will provide wheelchair access and meet London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s “Ultra-Low Emission Zone” targets; passengers booking ahead through the app or by phone will be guaranteed a seat, along with free wifi, USB charging ports and flexible stops.
The cost will be slightly higher than that of traditional London buses; and drivers will be accorded equivalent levels of pay and working rights as other bus drivers in the capital. The trial, to be operated by ride-sharing service ViaVan and bus operator Go-Ahead, is planned to last for a year initially; although TfL is already examining the possibility of delivering a second on-demand bus trial in another borough in order to evaluate levels of public demand for the service and assess how best to merge it with existing public transport infrastructure.
The primary trial will operate in Sutton due to its relatively high levels of car use in comparison to other areas of London; and aims to encourage residents to convert to more sustainable methods of travel in order to boost air quality and reduce congestion in the city.
Michael Hurwitz director of innovation at TfL, said: “We are always looking at how we can harness the latest technological developments in transport to improve the service for our customers. This trial will help us to understand if a demand-responsive service will support the objectives of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy in reducing car dependency and if it can be deployed to support the established bus network.”