Public Transport is one of the biggest problems that cities and towns around the world struggle with on a constant basis. Some cities have excellent options, such as London where you can easily get to anywhere across the capital at any given time thanks to its vast bus and subway network, and other metropolitan hubs like Johannesburg have more limited options if I’m being polite.
It’s not just large cities in developing countries that struggle with public transport. My current town has a pretty poor setup and it varies drastically depending on where in Milton Keynes you live.
At my previous house, it took close to an hour to use public transport to get to the local train station while in a car it’s just 7 minutes. Leaving the house and going to an office, remember that? I either drove my car and paid for parking or I used an Uber alternative which cost me £7 each way.
But now starting from April 1 the local council has partnered with RideWithVia.com to create “The Uber of Public Transport” and I do believe if this works it could be a game-changer for small to medium-sized towns and suburbs across the world.
The idea itself is simple, the company will be using a small fleet of minibusses and you will use an app on your smartphone to request a ride but instead of them coming to your door you will be shown a “virtual bus stop” on the app that will be within 400m of your location (normally closer).
When booking your ride you will also enter the location and they will then drop you within 400m of the location, again usually closer. This service will be partially government-subsidised with funds taken from the public transport kitty and each trip will be £3.50 (£2.50 off peak) no matter the length of the journey. There will of course be the usual discounts for students, the elderly, etc.
By utilising virtual bus stops instead of coming straight to your door, the service is able to optimise the routes ahead of time to ensure fair coverage and more importantly, they can add multiple passengers to your journey to save costs.
It’s literally exactly how the South African taxi industry works, just with added tech, and this time it’s in conjunction with government and there are fewer gang wars… for now.
In my past life where I had to work in an office I was paying between £5-£10 a day on parking alone so I would very much prefer to use this if I could. Thankfully wild horses won’t drag me back into cubicle hell but for others this may be what you are looking for.
And if it works it can hopefully be replicated everywhere.
Last Updated: March 11, 2021