The pilot of the West Midlands On Demand bus-to-order service in Coventry is being expanded after proving a success with passengers.
To mark the expansion of the service, Transport for West Midlands is offering new users two rides for £1 each until 8th February. For the first time, TfWM is also introducing concession pricing for the scheme, with qualifying riders able to travel for 50% off.
The buses can be booked via the smartphone app or telephone to pick up passengers for any chosen journey within the zone. The service’s technology is powered by Via, the global leader in TransitTech. Upon booking a ride, Via’s advanced algorithms create quick and efficient shared trips by pooling multiple passengers headed in the same direction into a single bus in real time.
Cllr Jim O'Boyle (Coventry City Council), West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and WM On Demand driver Talvir Grewal launch the service last year
Launched around the University of Warwick Campus and south-west Coventry last spring the service currently covers Kenilworth, Balsall Common and Meriden. More than 7,500 rides have been taken.
Now the buses are able to pick up and drop off in a wider area also covering the city centre, Walsgrave and the University Hospital, and Binley.
Demand-responsive transport, which frees buses from fixed routes and timetables, offers people a convenient and affordable ride where and when they need it.
The pilot service was launched by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) as part of the Future Mobility Zone/Showcase scheme to test innovative transport services and technology aimed at reducing private car use and traffic congestion on our streets.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Using the latest app technology to free buses from fixed routes and stops is just the kind of innovation we are famed for in the West Midlands. It is part of our plans to offer convenient and affordable alternatives to the car as we look to reduce congestion and address the climate change emergency.
“The service has proved particularly popular for those whose journeys do not follow main routes. This success is why, with our partners, we are expanding the zone covered to include the hospital and city centre as well as increasing the number of WM On Demand buses available to passengers.”
Councillor Rupinder Singh, ward councillor for Lower Stoke said: “Encouraging our residents to use public transport is a key aim within this city’s transport strategy. We know that we need to convince more of our residents to leave the cars at home and choose more sustainable methods of travel instead.
“Innovative schemes like these on-demand buses will play a huge role in that shift and it’s another option for our residents to choose and I would encourage anyone to test it out to see if it’s for them.”
West Midlands On Demand is run by bus operator Coachscanner, powered by software from Via, and backed with funding from TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Coventry City Council and the University of Warwick.
Chris Snyder, Europe CEO of Via said: "We are proud to partner with Transport for West Midlands in Coventry to bring demand-responsive transport to residents, creating equitable, flexible access to public transport. West Midlands On Demand is leading the way in connecting residents to essential services without the need for a private vehicle.”
Fares cost £3 per journey, or from £1 for concessions. For groups of two, three or four booking the same trip there’s an extra £1 per additional person.