February 20, 2019 (LONDON)— ViaVan, Europe’s leading provider of on-demand shared transit, was awarded today by Transport for London (TfL) the contract for a 1-year demand responsive bus pilot in the borough of Sutton. The service will be operated in collaboration with Go-Ahead London and will use dynamically routed, on-demand buses to create an inexpensive and eco-friendly transport option. This provides an alternative to private car ownership and single-occupancy vehicle trips, part of the Mayor’s initiative to reduce congestion in London and achieve 80% of all journeys by public transport, cycling or walking by 2041.
“ViaVan’s powerful technology is redefining mobility across Europe, seamlessly integrating with public transit infrastructure to provide fully on-demand and dynamic transportation solutions,” said Chris Snyder, CEO of ViaVan. “We are proud to partner with Transport for London, an innovation-forward transport authority, to provide residents of Sutton with a convenient, affordable, and congestion-reducing shared transportation alternative that creates a viable alternative to private car usage.”
“We are always looking at how we can harness the latest technological developments in transport to improve the service for our customers,” said Michael Hurwitz, TfL’s Director of Innovation.“This trial will help us to understand if a demand-responsive service will support the objectives of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy in reducing car dependency and if it can be deployed to support the established bus network.”
Using a mobile app, passengers will select their pick-up and drop-off location to book a ride in a unified fleet of vehicles that seat up to 14 passengers. ViaVan’s advanced algorithms enable multiple riders to seamlessly share a single vehicle. The powerful technology directs passengers to a nearby “virtual bus stop” for pick-up and drop-off, and dynamically routes the vehicle in real-time, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.
TfL awarded the pilot to ViaVan following a tender process that sought an innovative technology solution with flexible routing, scheduling, and booking that would complement public transport in outer London and help TfL explore a demand-responsive approach to reduce private vehicles on the road. Sutton has some of the highest private vehicle usage rates in London, as 71 percent of households have access to a car, alongside low public transit connectivity, ranking in the bottom 20 percent of PTAL scores, or Public Transit Accessibility Levels. The 1-year pilot is expected to launch this spring. The service will operate seven days a week, and rides will be cashless, paid for with a credit card directly through the app. TfL Freedom Pass holders will be entitled to a fare waiver.
ViaVan is the European joint venture between US-based Via and Mercedes-Benz Vans. The project with TfL marks the company’s seventh deployment in the UK having provided more than 5 million rides in the region. ViaVan launched consumer services in London and Milton Keynes in 2018, and operates in Sittingbourne and Liverpool, in partnership with Arriva, and in Oxford, in partnership with GoAhead.
“As the operator of Pickmeup, the largest demand responsive service in the UK, we are delighted to work with TfL and ViaVan to help deliver this service to Sutton,” said David Brown CEO of The Go-Ahead Group. “As London’s largest bus operator, we understand how an ‘on demand’ service can provide further journey opportunities to complement the capital’s extensive network of bus routes. The Sutton service will help customers with the first and last mile of their trip and fits well with Go-Ahead’s vision of a world where every journey is taken care of.”
ViaVan is a leading provider of innovative on-demand shared transit services in Europe. ViaVan was founded in 2017 as a joint venture between Via, the world’s most sophisticated developer of dynamic shared rides technology, and Mercedes-Benz Vans, the leading manufacturer of iconic passenger and cargo vans. Working closely with cities and public transit operators, ViaVan powers dynamic shared mobility services that complement existing transportation infrastructure, and currently operates in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Milton Keynes. Through their partnership, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Via are also collaborating on the
development of advanced mobility solutions, from sensor technology, to electric vehicle fleet management, to autonomous driving.