Transport for London (TfL) is continuing its research into minibus-based demand responsive transport (DRT) with the launch of Slide Ealing.
The service, which takes bookings either via app or over the phone, is operated between 0600-0100hrs, seven days per week by RATP Dev. It is using a fleet of 10 accessible MAN TGE minibuses converted by Minibus Options.
Year-long trial underway for Slide Ealing
Slide Ealing covers an area from Southall to the North Circular Road, and from the A40 to Boston Manor. The flat fare is £3.50, with weekly and monthly capping provided. Notably, a passenger’s tenth journey will be free of charge.
Like the first TfL trial of DRT, in Sutton, the Ealing pilot will operate for 12 months. Like Sutton, Ealing was chosen because of the high number of private vehicles in the borough. Figures show that 40% of people living in the area use the car to get to work.
TfL believes that on-demand services could encourage people to switch to a more sustainable travel method. It says that wait times on Slide Ealing should not exceed 10 minutes. The project will not be integrated with the Oyster payment system, but Freedom Passes will be accepted.
An industry collaboration at work
RATP Dev is working alongside Volkswagen Group subsidiary MOIA to deliver Slide Ealing.
Says MOIA Chief Product Officer Sascha Meyer: “MOIA will supply the technology, including the passenger app and vehicle guidance and pooling platform. In RATP Dev we have an industry heavyweight at our side which will manage vehicle fleet and operations for the trial.”
30 jobs are expected to be created by Slide Ealing. Drivers have received enhanced customer service training and have moved from driving traditional red buses in the capital.
TfL’s first DRT trial in Sutton was launched in February. That project is operated by Go-Ahead London in co-operation with technology supplier ViaVan and it utilises eight Mercedes-Benz Sprinters.