The ArrivaClick demand-responsive transport (DRT) service in Liverpool that was suspended on 29 March will not be reintroduced. Arriva says the withdrawal is down to the concept “not performing strongly enough in a tough commercial environment.”
Despite that, ArrivaClick on Merseyside has recorded “some successes.” 52% of customers previously used private cars and taxis. That, says the group, demonstrates how “there is a strong need for DRT-style bus services in the UK.”
Unaffected by the change is a Merseytravel tendered service in Speke that is operated with ArrivaClick minibuses on a demand-responsive basis. It will continue running “until further notice,” add Arriva. The Speke service has been maintained throughout the pandemic period.
Arriva notes that experience with another ArrivaClick operation in Leicestershire has shown that the concept performs most strongly when it is partnered with other streams of support. When ArrivaClick was launched in Liverpool in 2018, the group stated that it aspired to operating 25 minibuses in the city by summer 2019, employing 70 people.
“ArrivaClick has proved to be popular with our customers and we understand how disappointing this news will be,” Arriva says in a statement. “We have tried everything we can to increase passenger numbers and make the service sustainable. This was not a decision we have taken lightly.”
The app based ArrivaClick concept was launched as a pilot in Sittingbourne in 2017. Although that service generated strong growth, ArrivaClick was withdrawn from the Kent town in 2019. Most recently, it was introduced to Watford on 1 July.
Arriva is not the only major operator to have found the economics of DRT challenging. Go-Ahead Group subsidiary Oxford Bus Company (OBC) withdrew its PickMeUp service in June after a two-year pilot, citing “unsustainable losses.” However, OBC has not ruled out reintroducing PickMeUp if external funding can be sourced.