A new on-demand bus service, GoSutton, was launched for a twelve-month trial period on 28 May 2019.
The service, which does not have a fixed route or schedule, ‘responds’ to a request to be picked up by the customer at the desired time of travel.
The key target markets for the service are those who usually use their car and who are not, for vari- ous reasons, using conventional public transport, walking or cycling. This small-scale research trial, operating across about half of the geographical area of the London Borough of Sutton between 06:30 and 21:30 seven days-a-week, is exploring whether these on-demand services can improve public transport while improving accessibility and air quality (by reducing car use) in an area of outer London where car dependency is high and other forms of public trans- port have limited availability.
The ability to support the ob- jectives of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, including mode shift away from car travel and meeting the Healthy Streets principles, will be key to its success.
Early indicators are promising. By mid-July, just six weeks after the launch of the trial, 3,000 accounts had been opened by residents and up to 160 journeys were be- ing made on a weekday (a 25 per cent week-on-week growth). The service has proved popular across the whole operating area, and the majority of users are between 25 and 55 years of age. Initially the highest demand had been during the inter-peak period, but within a short time this has ex- panded to include the commuter market (with evidence that these users are switching from the car). Fewer than half of the users (around 40 per cent) are on con- cessionary fares. The typical waiting time is eight minutes.
On 19th July 2019, TfL opened a consultation relating to a second demand responsive bus ser- vice trial in Ealing, due to launch in late 2019, and operate seven days a week between 06:00 and 01:00. Details at TfL Demand Re- sponsive Bus Trial (Ealing). For both the Sutton and Ealing re- search trials, collecting feedback from users as well as non-users will continue throughout the respective 12 month trial periods.
This article originally appeared in the September 2019 newsletter (#37). All newsletters are available here.