Citymapper trials minibus service in central London

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The Sprinter minibuses seen on the trial have low-floor entry. MARK CURRAN

A Citymapper-branded minibus service has been trialled in London.

The CMX1 route, which had been given the codename Project Grasshopper, was operated by Impact Group on a trial in Central London from May 9-10. It made use of three Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibuses in a green livery with Citymapper branding, and took a small circulator route around Blackfriars and Waterloo bridge, primarily to trial the technology used on the vehicles and gather data.

The service ran on a fixed route, using existing bus stops, and allowed people to hop on and off for free during the trial.

Citymapper claimed: “In time, you’re going to see us ‘rethink’ how buses and routes operate and how to make them more efficient and useful in cities. We’re also introducing a smaller, nimbler vehicle that we believe is necessary in crowded cities.”

The interior of each vehicle includes a smart display which tells passengers where they are and which stop is coming next. USB charging points for smartphones are specified.

The minibuses are wired with a tracking software for real-time integration with the Citymapper app, passenger counting, and a driver app. Buses could be seen moving around the route map in real-time, with predicted arrival times shown on bus stop departure boards, and the company committed to making its data open and available to other apps.

A Citymapper spokesman said: “We feel buses haven’t evolved enough. They still roam around cities utilising old systems of operations and inefficient technology.

“If we’re going to solve urgent problems of congestion and infrastructure, we need buses to improve, to operate smarter. In the era of smartphones we can have responsive buses that react to real-time needs.

“Buses also get a bad rep, and are seen as a subpar experience. Even when they’re the best transport option, some people don’t take them.

“Perhaps we can help change that perception by improving the bus experience.

“We’ve helped people figure out which bus to take, when it arrives, how long it takes and when to get off. Now it’s inevitable that we help make them work better.”