The University of Warwick is launching a new on-demand bus service that will provide convenient services to staff, students, and the local community.
Starting in April, the West Midlands On Demand service combines the convenience of a taxi with the environmental advantages of a regular bus service, reducing vehicle usage and traffic congestion on our roads.
It will provide a pick-up and drop-off service in a travel area, powered by an app that will arrange routes and journeys based on customer demand. Passengers can book a trip by downloading the Via-powered “Bus On-Demand” app, which allows them to order a pick-up from a virtual bus stop.
The service is being tested for the first time in the area as part of the Future Mobility Showcase, a two-year collaboration between Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), a division of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and the University of Warwick to test new transportation modes and technologies aimed at reducing private car use.
“This is a pioneering new form of bus service that uses the latest app technology to provide a bus where you want it and at the right time within the zone, rather than being limited to fixed routes and timetables,” said Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands. It’s the kind of ingenuity for which the West Midlands is known.
“We’re piloting these new services for commuters between the University of Warwick campuses, but if they’re successful and long-lasting, we’ll look to extend them to other parts of the West Midlands.”
Via and CoachScanner run the on-demand services, which are funded by TfWM and the university.
Journeys can be booked via a mobile app in collaboration with Via, the pioneer in public mobility solutions. Multiple riders will be able to share the vehicle with ease thanks to Via’s algorithms. Passengers will be led to a nearby virtual bus stop within a short walking distance for pick-up and drop-off, allowing for fast and productive shared trips without long detours or frustrating fixed routes and schedules.
If an on-demand bus journey is not accessible, the app can provide information on alternate modes of public transportation as well as prices, allowing the user to make informed decisions about both cost and journey time.
In comparison to a fixed path, this on-demand service provides a better user experience and can be more effective.
The trial will look at how a demand-responsive service functions in Coventry after COVID-19. Its ability to be a self-sustaining commercial operation, providing car users with a more sustainable mode of transportation and public transportation users with greater flexibility, would decide its success. The initial route will connect the University of Warwick’s campuses, with the possibility of expanding it as the trial progresses.
Coventry City Council is willing to help the University of Warwick’s on-demand bus service, as well as to learn more about the service’s role in the modal mix of public transit, and to provide residents with a direct travel alternative to a broader range of possible destinations than conventional fixed route bus services.
“Trialing new transport modes, such as DRT, on our campus and with our communities helps us better understand how we can enable a greener, cleaner campus environment and reduce reliance on cars over time,” said Parvez Islam, director of transport and mobility at the University of Warwick. As a leading educational and research institution, it’s critical that we’re open to early testing of new ideas and technologies that might help to make the world a better place. Our campus has been a place where the future lands early since we first opened our doors to students in 1965, and we’re proud to be pointing the way forward again with this initiative.”
“We have a real opportunity to test out and trial a range of potential transportation options,” said Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for employment and redevelopment at Coventry City Council. The city is known for its creativity, and this will be another chance to see how transportation strategies work in reality.
“While the coronavirus epidemic raises its own set of problems, it’s vital that we continue to study these forms of schemes in greater depth. The University of Warwick is an excellent place to put this proposal to the test.”
Following the two-year experiment, the findings of the mobility showcase will be used to determine the best options for our residents in terms of minimising their carbon footprint and assisting them in making more educated and environmentally sustainable transportation decisions.
The Future Transport Zone, worth £22 million, is based in the West Midlands and aims to use cutting-edge technology and data to design and create open and linked transportation solutions that are quicker, safer, and greener, helping to achieve the #WM2041 goal of reducing the region’s carbon footprint.