TfL today announced that it is exploring the potential of using a new demand responsive bus service “to enhance London’s public transport network in the future”.
It says it is approaching a range of businesses – including traditional bus operators and tech companies – to see if the latest innovations in ride-booking technology can be used to create a new TfL bus service that complements the capital’s existing bus network but that the services, for nine passengers or more, would not replace any existing TfL services.
Businesses are being asked to express their interest in trialling a new TfL service that would operate flexibly in an area in need of improved public transport.
The partnership with TfL could, for example, be an on-demand minibus ordered through an app, or perhaps a service running on a semi-fixed route that can be diverted to pick up individual passengers.
“Recent rapid advances in technology have increased the potential of trialling such services in areas where car dependency is high, for example in outer London,” it says in a statement. “A trial would help TfL better understand and assess how such services could complement the existing extensive bus network. It will also help TfL to set standards for a potential future TfL service around safety, accessibility, air quality, affordability, the use of concessions (such as the Freedom Pass) and customer service.”
TfL says it is proposed that the Mayor’s “minimum professional London bus driver wage” and “Licence for London” would apply to this trial. It adds that traditional buses, which currently carry more than three and a half million passengers a day, “remain at the heart of transport in London and have a vital role to play in delivering the Mayor’s Transport Strategy”.
TfL’s Director of Transport Innovation, Michael Hurwitz, said, “We want to understand the potential of new TfL demand responsive services to improve public transport for all Londoners.
“We are currently exploring the feasibility of a small demand responsive transport trial in areas of outer London where car dependency is higher and other forms of public transport are less viable.
“By approaching potential partners, we are engaging the market to establish interest in delivering a trial of a new TfL service.
“Any potential trial would be a new TfL service designed to support the existing local transport network, improve accessibility and London’s air quality.”
TfL adds that if the trial goes ahead it would involve a small number of vehicles and would be held in an area of outer London where car dependency is high and other forms of public transport are less viable and that any trial would run for no longer than 12 months.