A new operation called Sn-ap, whose founders include former bosses from award-winning train operator Chiltern Railways, is working with coach companies in the east midlands area to provide express travel at low cost.
With a headline price from £3, the initial route from Nottingham to London, runs according to demand, from one coach a day, to almost a dozen. In the first two weeks 600 people paying £3-£4.50 per single trip have used the route.
Users book online or on a mobile phone app, which also includes the ticket and live travel information.
Sn-ap is hiring coaches from local operators, such as Marshalls of Sutton-on-Trent and Sharpes of Nottingham. It has also employed one member of staff in Nottingham, Marcus Standish, to help the launch.
CEO Thomas Ableman (pictured) who spent seven years at Aylesbury-based Chiltern Railways as Commercial Director, says: “As travel and tech experts, we spotted an opportunity to use technology to match customer demand for inter-city trips with high-quality local coach operators.”
The London-based firm chose Nottingham for the launch due to its central location, good size and the large student population, which is one of the key target audiences.
“We want to use the success of that to raise investment and expand to other places, with more services.
“It's akin to Airbnb because we match people who want to go places with coaches that otherwise wouldn’t be used,” adds Mr Ableman.
Mr Ableman’s co-founders for Sn-ap include former Chiltern Railways MD Rob Brighouse, Christy Stewart-Smith, previously MD at The Gate advertising agency in London, and Tom Moreton, who founded Shoreditch digital agency Fat Beehive.
Mr Ableman adds: “When the idea of ‘Googlising’ this opportunity struck me, I realised the scale and potential. There's a huge number of under-used coaches within the private hire market.”