On-demand vehicle routing and management platform The Routing Company (TRC) has partnered with the South East of Scotland Transport Partnership (SEStran) to provide on-demand transport, with an initial agreement for up to one year. SEStran is now TRC’s fourth fleet in Scotland, where it already works with operators in Campbeltown, Dunoon, and Berwickshire to offer services via its Pingo app.
The SEStran regional transport partnership oversees eight local councils, including East Lothian Council and the Scottish Borders Council. The new service – anticipated to launch in spring 2023 – will operate in partnership with Prentice of Haddington and will serve the area around Haddington plus surrounding towns including Tranent and Humbie.
The app provider says that East Lothian Council area currently has limited public transport coverage, with approximately 9% of the population having ‘no access’ to key destinations via public transport. The area’s rural geography means car dependency is high, but TRC says that approximately 24% of households in the area do not own a car. SEStran says it is seeking to improve accessibility and reduce social exclusion via the new on-demand service.
“TRC’s partnership with SEStran marks an important expansion of the Pingo brand in Scotland as well as the deployment of our Pingo Flex feature, which allows SEStran to get the most of out of its fixed bus service between rural towns and the main town centre,” said James Cox, Chief Executive Officer at TRC. “Pingo Flex allows the service to operate on a fixed basis during the most popular times and to the most frequent destinations, while outside of these peak times, to operate as an on-demand service in an area not currently served by fixed routes. Ultimately, this will increase accessibility, reliability, and the efficiency of mobility for local residents.”
Launched in late 2022, Pingo Journey is a multimodal journey planning feature integrating TRC’s real-time routing technology with public transport infrastructure, which the app provider says means users can book on-demand journeys and plan their fixed-route journeys from the Ride Pingo app. Its Transit Connect feature, which guarantees connections between on-demand and fixed-route services, will be used to connect travellers to other rural bus services in the area.
“This service is especially needed to increase access to mobility – and TRC has proven its ability to service smaller, rural communities where fixed-route services have historically struggled to meet variable demand,” said James. “Our partnership with SEStran in East Lothian directly improves community mobility, and contributes to our purpose – that any community of any size, in any place, with any resources, can meet the transportation needs of its people.”
“We chose to partner with TRC to meet our core goals of maximising accessibility for our community, providing an efficient service within the constraints of our fleet, and establishing and launching a new service quickly,” added Hattie James, Project Officer at SEStran. “Together, we have integrated our existing mobility-as-a-service platform with TRC’s Pingo app – marking the first time TRC has integrated with a local Mobility as a Service app. Through this, we will increase ridership on an established rural route, and explore improving the long-term viability of the route.”