PickMeUp went live on Monday 25th June enabling residents, workers and students in a 12.2 square mile area around Oxford to request a minibus pick-up at a “virtual bus stop” within a short walkable distance of their location, using a new mobile phone app. It offers flexibility for passengers who can choose the starting and finishing point of any journey within the travel zone.
It’s an affordable travel solution and can reach parts of the city that existing bus services are not able to service, as it is not tied to existing bus stops or timetabled routes. It operates between 6.00am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday, from 8.30am until 7.30pm Saturdays and between 8.30am and 7pm on Sundays. Customers can currently enjoy an introductory flat fare of £2.50 per journey anywhere within the travel zone. To support greener travel and ease congestion, a surcharge of £2.50 will be added if the journey could be made via an existing Oxford Bus Company bus route where the customer is being requested to walk 200 metres or less. When the customer adds £20 to the app, they are rewarded with £25 of Journey Credit. There are plans for multi-journey passes and corporate packages in Phase 2.
Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, said: “Local people have made it clear to us that they are open to alternatives to using their cars – but whilst our existing services are excellent at providing radial routes into the city centre I am continually told that orbital connectivity ‘around the ring road’ is missing for those who wish to give up their car when travelling to sites in the Eastern Arc. Our new PickMeUp service provides this new connectivity and is a new idea in transport, using the very latest mapping and aggregation technology, and it’s got the potential to be part of the solution in tackling air quality and traffic congestion in many towns and cities.”
The Oxford Bus Company have invested £850,000 in six 17-seat ultra-low emission Euro 6 minibuses, with Wi-Fi, USB charging points, low-loading for easy wheelchair and pushchair access, and comfortable high-back seating to launch the service. The front-end and back-end technology for the service was developed in partnership with Via, a US-based market leader in ride-sharing technology. The app has the capability to ‘learn’ routes and traffic conditions. It will enable passengers to request a pick up, and will then select the vehicle best-placed to fulfil their journey and direct it to the nearest safe pick up point. Journeys will be matched with others wishing to make similar journeys to enable ride sharing.
PickMeUp is being piloted by The Oxford Bus Company on behalf of parent company The Go-Ahead Group to reduce congestion and improve services in the eastern area of the City to complement traditional services and provide missing orbital connectivity. The service operates across Oxford’s “Eastern Arc”, covering the railway station, Thornhill and Redbridge Park & Ride sites, the Science Park, Oxford Business Park, the John Radcliffe, Churchill and NOC hospitals, University Science Area and Brookes University.
Go-Ahead Group’s Chief Executive David Brown said: “PickMeUp is the latest step in Go Ahead’s plans to be a trailblazer for innovation in the transport industry. We look forward to showing the UK what a high-quality on-demand bus service can do and continuing to modernise across the sector. We’re starting in Oxford today, but we’ll be watching closely to consider what happens next.”