Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is trialling a new demand responsive transport (DRT) service with the University of Warwick.

Passengers will be able to book a journey using Via’s ‘Bus On-Demand’ app. Algorithms will then direct them to a virtual bus stop for shared trips. Services are operated by Via and CoachScanner and are funded by both TfWM and the university.

The initial trial will operate between the University of Warwick campuses and will be extended to other areas of the West Midlands if the service proves commercially viable.

If an on-demand bus journey cannot be arranged, the app will provide details of an alternative method of public transport, including cost, to help the user make a journey.

Bus on Demand

The trial is part of a two-year partnership called the Future Mobility Showcase and pilots new transport modes to reduce private car use. It will also explore how a demand-responsive transport will work post-pandemic.

Parvez Islam, Director of Transport and Mobility for the University of Warwick says: “Trialling new transport modes, such as DRT, on our campus and with our communities helps us to better understand how we might enable a greener, cleaner campus environment and reduce reliance on cars over time.

“As a leading education and research institution, it’s important we’re open to early testing of new ideas and innovations that may ultimately help to create a better world. Ever since we first opened our doors to students in 1965, our campus has been a place where the future lands early and we’re proud to be pointing the way ahead again with this initiative.”

Bus on Demand Via app

Adds Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council: “We have a real opportunity to test out and trial a number of transport options for the future. The city has innovation at its heart and this will be another opportunity to understand how transport solutions work in real situations.

“The COVID-19 outbreak creates its own challenges but it’s important we continue to look at these types of schemes in more detail. The University of Warwick is an ideal location to test out this project.”