ArrivaClick – the demand-responsive, luxury minibus between Kent Science Park and Sittingbourne station – has proved successful and is poised to be expanded as a commercial venture to other parts of the country.
Says Arriva UK Bus MD Kevin O’Connor: “We wanted to be able to learn and change. And we’ve learned a lot from Sittingbourne, especially how dynamic we can be when we freed from the shackles of an old service, by running a full demand-responsive service.
“The world is changing fast, and we have to change with it.”
“We’ve changed our algorithms, in terms of the time it takes for a journey, how long people are prepared to wait for a journey and how close to their departure and destination they are prepared to be picked up and dropped off.
“With no consultation period or requirement for 56-days notice, we were able to try – and in some cases fail – very quickly.
Asked if the Sittingbourne service is now profitable, Mr O’Connor replied: “We have seen enough to be happy to launch commercial services.”
“We are assessing our options, but we are confident about its potential and we are committed to launching it this year.”
He refused to be drawn on when, or where the expansion will take place, but confirmed that the trial has proved that its app-based technology and back office is scalable. He says that a substantial number of minibuses are being ordered.
“It will be exciting when we launch commercially – taking the full risk – and we are confident of expansion this year.”
He also confirmed that Arriva is “actively involved in a number of tenders” for social and tendered demand-responsive transport. “We’ve had enquiries from over 40 local authorities.”