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Transport Benevolent Fund
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February 06 2018
By Mel Holley

A former routeone editor, Mel has more than 30 years’ experience in road and rail transport journalism.

Chariot starts - but TfL restricts trial

Ford-owned Chariot has started its first European commuter shuttle service in London [routeone, News, 31 January].

Six weeks after Transport for London (TfL) closed its consultation, on 29 January it finally granted a permit to Chariot Transit UK to operate only four of the six demand-responsive routes it had asked, for, and only on a trial basis for up to 12 months. It has not disclosed the reasons for the two refusals.

As a result, Chariot started its weekdays-only routes immediately, using 14 Ford Transits, with ride-share bookings through an app.

Journeys are free until 14 February, then with a monthly pass, single journeys cost from £1.60, with single pay-as-you-go rides £2.40.

All routes are designed to connect the ‘last mile’ of areas not served by public transport with rail and tube stations.

“As well-served as London is by public transport, the daily commute can still be a bit of a slog for some in the city. Chariot is one way of providing residents with reliable, safe and affordable transportation,” said Sarah‑Jayne Williams, director, Ford Smart Mobility, Europe.

Four London routes, informed by a detailed analysis of urban areas, are designed to connect commuters living in densely populated areas to existing transport networks. The routes will help fill transportation gaps between several rapidly growing neighborhoods and six London transport hubs: Clapham Junction, North Greenwich, Abbey Wood, Kennington, Vauxhall, and Battersea Park; and will also help commuters with their onwards journey on the Victoria Line, Northern Line, London Overground, National Rail – as well as Thames River Boat Services and the Emirates Cable Car.

The Battersea Bullet will serve the recently opened Battersea Power Station mixed-use neighbourhood and the Nine Elms area – yet to be fully connected to the main transport networks – and connect to the Victoria Line, in Vauxhall and the Northern Line, at Kennington

The Wandsworth Wanderer will link residents living in new developments, such as the Riverside Quarter complex in Wandsworth, with Clapham Junction allowing them to transfer onto National Rail, London Overground and Gatwick Express services

The Nuxley Navigator will connect the increasingly popular residential areas of Belvedere and Nuxley Village to Abbey Wood station and National Rail services to London Bridge, as well as the forthcoming Elizabeth Line

The Shooters Hill Shot will connect residential areas of the Royal Borough of Greenwich to North Greenwich Underground Station for easy access westbound to Canary Wharf and central London and eastbound to ExCeL and City Airport, as well as nearby major attractions like the O2

Up to six shuttles per hour will run at peak times, with 14 minibuses. The 14-seater passenger shuttles will be able to use London’s bus lanes, offer Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and overhead storage for laptop bags and briefcases. Selected shuttles will be wheelchair accessible at launch, and the professional drivers will be trained to assist passengers with special needs.

Chariot is accessed via a smartphone app that enables users to search for a nearby route and the closest available transport hub address. The app – offering dedicated customer support – will then locate the nearest convenient pickup point. Passengers can book a seat and track in real time the progress of shuttles that run Monday to Friday, during the rush hour.

In addition to a commuter service, Chariot is exploring enterprise and charter services in London and has also been accredited as a Living Wage Employer by The Living Wage Foundation. The voluntary commitment will see everybody working at Chariot in London, regardless of whether they are direct employees or third-party contracted staff, receive a minimum hourly wage of £10.20 – higher than the statutory minimum.

London is the sixth city to be served by Chariot, which operates in the U.S. in San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Columbus, and Austin. The ride‑sharing service has the potential to be a part of measures aimed at tackling both congestion and air quality issues, and to address gaps in the transport system and completing commuter options. Altogether, the company runs 108 routes daily and plans to expand to additional cities both in the U.S. and internationally.

“Cities globally are dealing with increased congestion and environmental issues,” said Marcy Klevorn, president, Ford Mobility. “Ford is helping to alleviate these challenges by developing mobility solutions – such as Chariot – that are finely tuned to the unique challenges of commuters in different locations, addressing gaps in transport systems and completing their travel with first- and last-mile additions.”

Chariot London is the latest of Ford’s European initiatives accelerating the development of its smart mobility technologies.

Throughout 2018, Ford will be trialling a 20-strong fleet of plug-in hybrid Transit Custom vans in the UK capital as part of the “Cleaner Air for London" initiative supported by Transport for London.

London is also home to the Ford Smart Bench network, a collaboration with Strawberry Energy, as well as home to first European Ford Smart Mobility Innovation Office at Here East in London. Since 2013, Ford has collaborated with Deutsche Bahn to provide car sharing services across Germany, and last year helped deliver 3,200 FordPass bicycles for hire in Cologne and Düsseldorf.

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