Oxford PickMeUp grows during final pilot phase

The demand responsive Oxford PickMeUp minibus service, operated by Go-Ahead Group subsidiary Oxford Bus Company (OBC), will be expanded into Horspath to the east of the city from 5 January on a six-month trial basis.

The move comes thanks to both residents’ demands and funding from Horspath Parish Council. As a result, public transport will return to the village for the first time since a round of Oxfordshire County Council funding cuts in 2016.

Oxford PickMeUp: Stakeholder support ‘crucial’

Support from other key stakeholders “remains crucial to help Oxford PickMeUp grow” as it enters the final phase of its three-year pilot scheme in 2020, adds OBC Managing Director Phil Southall (pictured).

PickMeUp was launched in June 2018. It is operated with a fleet of distinctively liveried Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibuses. Passengers summon a ride using an app, with a vehicle arriving at a virtual bus stop within 15 minutes. It operates within an eastern arc of Oxford, seven days per week.

Passengers are matched with other users wishing to make similar journeys, with aggregation carried out by software.

Within PickMeUp’s first year of operation it delivered over 140,000 passenger rides, which the operator said exceeded its forecasts. However, at that time Mr Southall added that it was necessary to “scale up” to make the service a viable standalone product.

From the date PickMeUp is extended to Horspath, it will cease serving the Jericho area because a prolonged road closure has made continuing service there impractical.

Extension is welcomes by users

The extension of the demand responsive service has been welcomed by Horspath Parish Council. Says Councillor Lisa Hofen: “We are delighted to be partnering with OBC’s demand-based service for a six-month trial.

“It is wonderful to see the return of a bus service to our village, something that we have been working on for our residents for some time now.

“Horspath Parish Council and OBC will naturally continue to monitor demand throughout the trial,” she continues.

OBC adds that PickMeUp, which operates seven days per week and until 2300hrs Monday-Friday and midnight on Saturdays, is “arguably the most expansive service Horspath has had to date.”

An information session for Horspath residents will be held in due course.