After 950,000 miles and 300,000 journeys, PickMeUp, Oxford Bus Company’s demand responsive ride-sharing service has completed its last day in service following a two-year pilot scheme. On the last day, staff who worked on PickMeUp gathered to mark the end of the service, and Oxford Bus Company said it would like to thank everyone who has travelled on the PickMeUp and all colleagues who worked on the service. However, the operator said it has applied for a grant via the government’s Rural Mobility Fund, in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council, which if granted would result in a revised PickMeUp service returning to the county.
PickMeUp was launched to improve connectivity in the eastern arc of Oxford by complementing traditional bus routes. It enabled passengers in eastern Oxford to summon buses to pick them up on a street corner of their choice, to go to a bespoke destination. In the two years of its operation, over 38,000 people downloaded the app and more than 300,000 journeys were made, but the service did not reach the milestones required to make it commercially sustainable beyond the two-year pilot, even though not all demand could be met.
Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director said: “PickMeUp was a great innovation by Oxford Bus Company and we are proud of its achievements. We have taken a lot of learnings from PickMeUp and are hopeful it could be re-introduced to Oxfordshire if we are successful in our grant funding application, albeit in a revised format.
“Unfortunately, at this time we were not able to secure the additional funding support required to retain the current service beyond the pilot scheme once we had identified that the service could not be sustained financially with the limited number of partners that we had. We would like to thank everyone who has travelled with the PickMeUp service and our superb colleagues who have worked with us throughout the pilot scheme. It is no reflection on their hard work that we have had to finish operating the service.”
If the Rural Mobility Fund DRT proposal is successful, the operators says that the revised service would serve rural and suburban areas surrounding Oxford city. Five zones would be created around the city, which would each include a Park & Ride location as a ‘mobility hub’ for onward connections. It would not serve the city centre.
County Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet member for Environment and Transport, said: “Demand responsive transport has a future in Oxfordshire and the lessons learnt from the PickMeUp service will help shape services to come. Our hope is to get government support for bus services that will suit people’s travel requirements in different communities across the county, including those who live in some of our more remote areas.”