Essex County Council has launched two new mobility solutions to offer more sustainable and convenient travel options. A new digital demand responsive transport (DRT) service, DigiGo, will allow users to plan shared transport journeys with real-time arrival information. Booked via the TravelEssex app, the offering has been created in partnership with Mobility as a Service (MaaS) provider Moovit.
Using a fleet of electric minibuses manufactured by SAIC, owner of the LDV brand, the DigiGo service will initially operate within two rural and suburban areas of Essex. Essex County Council says the service will offer shortened wait and walk times as well as easier connection to Essex’s transport interchanges for onward travel.
Funded by the Department for Transport’s Rural Mobility Fund, the DigiGo services will run for a two-year trial period, with the learning and development used to inform any potential future rollout of the service to other areas of Essex or the UK. The service will operate between 0700 and 2200hrs, seven days a week (excluding bank holidays), giving it one of the longest operating days of the current UK DRT schemes.
DigiGo journeys can be booked and paid for through the TravelEssex app, where users can view real-time arrival information and track the vehicle along its route. The service promises to suggest the most efficient routes to give the most convenient sustainable travel options.
Moovit’s Chief Growth and Marketing Officer Yovav Meydad said: “Diverse travel needs and demands have evolved with the pandemic, and now most travel is generally more local. We are excited to partner with Essex County Council and bring our global experience to help shape this flexible transport service. I’m sure Essex residents will find it beneficial and convenient, and a complement to traditional forms of public transport.”
Councillor Lee Scott, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Sustainable Transport, added: “We want to see more people travelling sustainably and thinking differently about how they travel, particularly for shorter journeys. To do this we recognise the need to offer choice and flexibility and think about how we work with some of the latest technologies and innovations to attract more people to use new forms of shared public transport services. Working with Moovit over this two-year period, the trial is aiming to provide a service which becomes embedded into local communities, attracting users of all ages and creates a platform to be rolled out into other parts of the county.”
Councillor Frankie Ricci, Cabinet Member for Communities at Braintree District Council, commented: “This is an innovative service which will connect people to our business parks, town centre and hospitals as well as surrounding villages. The new routes will improve transport options for residents and support the growth of local businesses as well as revolutionise the way people get around. It will also help reduce the number of cars on our roads easing congestion and reducing emissions. This is really positive news for residents and businesses in our district.”