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Trusted Travel Reviews - Awards 2019
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February 27 2019
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

TfL to launch minibus DRT concept evaluation

Up to eight Sprinter minibuses will be used on Sutton pilot that will involve both Go-Ahead and ViaVan

DRT trial in Sutton will be app-based; will involve Go-Ahead and ViaVan

Transport for London (TfL) is to stage a year-long trial of demand responsive transport (DRT) in Sutton that will use up to eight Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibuses.

The project will be delivered by the Go-Ahead Group and ViaVan, a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and ride sharing technology company Via. It is the subject of a consultation that was launched last week. TfL does not rule out a second trial to gather further evidence about DRT’s viability.

In Sutton, concessionary Freedom Pass holders will be carried, but Oyster cards will not be accepted because of the limited trial period. Unaccompanied children under 16 will not be able to use the service.

Customers will summon a minibus by app, but for those who do not have access to a smartphone, the service can be accessed conventionally via an operator. Hours of service will be 0630-2130hrs, seven day a week.

TfL says that the trial will enable it to assess how DRT works alongside an existing public transport network. The consultation will determine which area of Sutton it will serve, and the location of stopping points.

Sutton has been chosen because of its relatively high car dependency. The cost of using the DRT service will be “slightly higher” than a traditional bus to reflect what TfL refers to as “its better experience for customers.”

Says Go-Ahead Group CEO David Brown: “As the operator of Oxford PickMeUp, the largest demand-responsive service in the UK, we are delighted to be working with TfL and ViaVan to help deliver this service to Sutton.

“As London’s largest bus operator, we understand how an on-demand service can provide further journey opportunities to complement the capital’s extensive bus network.

“The Sutton service will help customers with the first and last mile of their trip and it fits well with Go-Ahead’s vision of a world where every journey is taken care of.”

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