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November 29 2017
By Mel Holley

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

Quality operators are driving force behind Sn-ap

Quality operators are a key ingredient in the success of Sn-ap, the on-demand intercity coach service that launched a year ago.

It has now carried its 35,000th passenger and is driving what it says is a “new revolution in low-cost, high-quality intercity coach travel.”

It offers direct trips from Derby and Nottingham to London from as little as £2 each way, but has plans to expand elsewhere in the UK.

Sn-ap matches demand with “the best drivers and coaches from the region’s top independent operators,” says founder Thomas Ableman.

Customers book online, choosing from existing trips or building bespoke trips and sharing them with family and friends.  Trips are only confirmed when there’s enough demand – allowing Sn-ap to guarantee lower prices than its competitors.

After every trip, passengers rate their experience. Sn-ap uses these ratings to allocate new trips to the operators that passengers like best, keeping quality high.

Last month, the company raised a further £2m from investors led by innovation specialist, Kindred Capital, to fund further expansion. former Arriva London Area MD Paul Adcock is now Operations Director. 

Says Mr Ableman: “There are 30,000 coaches in the UK. The vast majority are owned by independent, family-owned firms with little or no access to the intercity leisure travel market – and plenty of unused capacity.”

“Sn-ap customers love the service,” says Mr Adcock. “A lot of that is down to the quality of the operators we can use. We only pick the best of the best. Because they’re smaller companies they take more pride in their work.

“The drivers tend to be more experienced, friendlier. People appreciate that. The most common passenger feedback is ‘lovely friendly driver’.”

Leicestershire-based Roberts Travel is one of the independent operators running an increasing number of Sn-ap trips. Says MD Jonathan Hunt: “Sn-ap has brought real innovation to a sector that has struggled with its mass market appeal, particularly in light of progressions of other forms of transport.

“We welcome their energy and passion to transform intercity travel and have already benefitted hugely from our partnership. 

“We’ve seen the work we carry out for them continue to grow month on month and is now a regular source of income to our business providing peak time and off-peak services.

“We look forward to developing our relationship as they continue to expand across the UK.”

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