Stagecoach East Midlands’ Stagecoach Connect initiative, which supports NHS and key workers in Hull, has picked up the Outstanding Partnership Award at this year’s UK Bus and Coach Awards.
The Stagecoach Connect tech is powered by Via and comes as a smartphone app with a demand-driven digital booking platform. During the pandemic the platform allowed NHS workers to pre-book socially distanced travel to and from work by selecting the nearest bus stop for the journey, and offered live vehicle tracking.
Stagecoach East Midlands says the COVID-19-led initiative took just two weeks to complete from concept to delivery in May 2020. It worked with Hull Royal Infirmary through Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Hull City Council on the scheme.
According to CEO of Europe at Via Chris Snyder, the tech is an example of how tech-enabled, on-demand transportation services could be scaled quickly to support essential workers.
Says Matt Cranwell, Managing Director of Stagecoach East Midlands: “The app was one way in which Stagecoach East Midlands was able to support our brilliant NHS staff with getting to and from their shifts safely and give them more peace of mind when it came to commuting during an extremely challenging time.
“We continue to look for ways to support our local NHS staff and key workers in Hull and want to thank our partners at the Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Hull City Council and Via for their help in launching the initiative.”
The convenience of the app may even have contributed to modal shift in the city. Councillor Dean Kirk, Hull City Council’s portfolio holder for highways and transport explains: “At a time of unprecedented pressure on the NHS and a reduction in conventional bus services, Stagecoach Connect provided a lifeline for hospital staff in Hull, ensuring these essential key workers were able to get to and from work in a safe and timely manner.
“Feedback has been very positive, and anecdotal evidence suggests the shuttle was used by many healthcare workers who may not usually travel on buses, and who would welcome a service to and from hospital.
“This presents an opportunity to get more people using public transport, supporting our ongoing efforts to reduce traffic in the city as part of our Hull 2030 Carbon Neutral Strategy.”