Flexility solution blends bus season tickets with rental car membership

Go North East and car rental provider Co-Wheels are collaborating to launch a new mobility solution in Newcastle which blends using a bus and a rental car when needed.

Called Flexility, the smartcard-based season ticket enables passengers to use a bus for regular journeys but access a car without having to own one. The solution suits those who commute regularly by bus but still use a car for occasional trips.

The ticket can be used on Go North East buses and includes car club membership on a single smartcard, meaning a single card can be used both as a bus ticket and as a car club membership key. The car club offer sits on top of the bus season ticket that includes free membership, £30 driving credit and no monthly subscription fee.

Existing Go North East smartcard holders can request a free upgrade to Flexility and existing Co-Wheels subscribers in turn are being offered a 15% discount on Go North East season tickets.

The car club registration process checks driving licence eligibility and links the smartcard to a user’s account.

Martijn Gilbert, Managing Director of Go North East, says the initiative fits with changing travel patterns and new ways of working where “full-time car ownership is now even less financially viable for many people”.

“While not a completely new concept, the partnership between Go North East and Co-Wheels is a UK first and this latest generation offer gives an easy to use solution with a good coverage of cars and car sites available across Newcastle and Gateshead,” he adds. “It also comes at a time when using a shared mobility platform is becoming more acceptable as people re-think their travel needs following the pandemic.

“We need to be open-minded to finding and embracing creative new solutions to society’s mobility needs. Supporting our work to improve bus services with a flexible blended solution that includes an affordable car option for the occasional, more bespoke, journeys that are sometimes less easy by public transport will help enable more car-free lifestyles.

“These are the sort of behaviour changes that will make a real difference to reducing congestion and improving air quality by making use of low carbon public transport a viable alternative for even more journeys.”

Managing Director of Co-Wheels Richard Falconer says Flexility is the “ideal solution” for those who commute regularly by bus, but use cars for the occasional shopping journey.

“You get the best of both worlds – cheap bus travel and access to a car when you need it without the expense of owning one,” says Mr Falconer. “We have wanted a scheme like this for a long time as we know car club members make much more use of buses for their daily travel needs so the two work together perfectly.

“We are delighted to be teaming up with a forward-thinking company like Go North East and hope it will leads to much more joint working in future as we try to cut peoples’ travel costs and at the same time reduce CO2 to combat climate change, especially as most of our cars are hybrid or electric.”

Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor, says the initiative is a step in the right direction for modal shift. “This new shared mobility solution, a collaboration between local businesses Go North East Buses and Co-Wheels, is going in the right direction. It will make low carbon public transport a more attractive option for most journeys and reduce the need for car ownership. All of us will benefit from the likely improvement in air quality and reduced congestion on our roads.”