On-demand bus service launch

An ‘Uber for buses’ will be launched in Oxford next month to reduce congestion in the east of the city.

Oxford Bus Company will launch the on-demand scheme to reduce congestion and improve services in the city’s Eastern Arc.

The PickMeUp app, described by the company as ‘the UK’s most ambitious demand-responsive bus service,’ will allow workers, students and members of the public to order a bus to a virtual stop.

Passengers can request a pick up and a mini-bus will go to the nearest safe pick up point.

Journeys – costing £2.50 per ride – will be matched to others travelling on a similar route. 

An added £2.50 will be charged if the trip could be made via an existing bus route.

Oxford Bus Company managing director Phil Southall 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.

“We believe our new service will help where traditional bus routes do not work commercially.”

He added: “The app has similarities to other ride sharing products such as Uber Pool.

“It’s a like a car pool, only bigger – and you never have to drive yourself. It’s cheaper than a taxi and comes whenever you want it.”

Oxford Bus Company has invested £850,000 in six 17-seat ultra-low emission mini-buses, creating 17 jobs.

The scheme, set to launch on June 25, will cover a 12.2 square mile area, encompassing Oxford Station, Oxford Science Park, Oxford Business Park, the hospitals and Brookes University.

It uses technology developed by global tech firm Via, which operates similar schemes in New York and Chicago.

David Brown, the chief executive of Go-Ahead Group, which owns the Oxford Bus Company, said it will help businesses get staff to work in ‘a quick, simple, convenient and cost-effective way’.

The service 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 10 minutes. 

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