Home Lifestyle MK-Connect: Is this Uber for Public Transport?

MK-Connect: Is this Uber for Public Transport?

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Apologies for the quality of this image

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

10 Comments

  1. cloudzn

    March 11, 2021 at 06:57

    Interesting venture, unfortunately in South Africa this isn’t going to work. The gangster taxis won’t allow it

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      March 11, 2021 at 07:11

      yeah I’m not sure it could work in London either, the Black Cabs are quite protective of their turf

      Reply

      • cloudzn

        March 11, 2021 at 07:57

        Atleast they aren’t killing the ehailing drivers like here

        Reply

    • HvR

      March 11, 2021 at 09:44

      It is f…king ridiculous how much leeway all levels of government give those mafias.

      Reply

      • Gavin Mannion

        March 11, 2021 at 12:28

        How else would 70% of the working population get to work though without them?

        No defence of the government here but they are in a tough situation, they can’t crack down too hard else it would cripple the economy

        Would love to see the venn diagram between people who think all taxi’s should be impounded and those who think the damage lockdowns do to the economy is worse than their benefit….

        Reply

        • HvR

          March 12, 2021 at 08:00

          Independent taxi operators, subsidized bus and train services (of the expansion which has been on hold for a decade due to taxi bosses)… you know public transport not controlled and profited by organized crime organizations.

          Reply

        • HvR

          March 12, 2021 at 08:00

          Independent taxi operators, subsidized bus and train services (of the expansion which has been on hold for a decade due to taxi bosses)… you know public transport not controlled and profited by organized crime organizations.

          Reply

          • Mandalorian Jim

            March 12, 2021 at 12:27

            That’s the biggest issue, the taxi industry has effectively held up any sort of real and positive changes South Africa could have made to public transport. We had a positive step forward with the myciti bus services, but just imagine where we could have been had government not folded to the demands of obvious criminals.

            There was a crucial moment in 1996 where they could have completely overhauled public transport but instead the cadres followed their bank balances, and now nearly 30 years later, public transport in South Africa is just as pathetic as it was back then.

            Everyone in South Africa who’s ever travelled to other cities in the world knows how fantastic a functional public transport system can be. It doesn’t have to be “just a means for the poor to move around”. It can change the very health of a city. I just think it’s unbelievably myopic and idiotic to view public transport as “something for the poor or the working class” – which seems to have been one of the arguments generally thrown around when anyone starts mentioning changing public transport in SA. Covid could have been used to overhaul it all, but instead, taxis were allowed to operate as usual, whereas the rest of South Africa had to just laugh at the hypocrisy oozing out of government and their talking heads.

      • Mandalorian Jim

        March 12, 2021 at 12:15

        It’s always so funny to realise that at one point (during the Lockdown) it was illegal in South Africa to go onto the beach, but if you owned a minibus taxi, you could fill it up like it was 2019 (from Level 4 already). Not even the bus services were allowed to fill to capacity, but the taxis could.

        I wonder how many of the ANCs top brass have indirect ownership in taxi organisations.

        Reply

      • CodeDisQus

        March 18, 2021 at 11:31

        LOL the why would members of government sabotage their own income stream!

        Reply

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