First Bristol launches new service to encourage car commuters to catch the bus … by giving them a cab ride first!
Unique collaboration with Bristol-based innovator Esoterix Systems to trial UK’s first cross-modal public transport in Bristol
Don’t you hate spending too much time stuck in traffic during the morning commute and then going round in circles looking for a place to drop your car near work? Or know that feeling when you want to catch the bus, but the bus stop is just that bit too far to walk? A brand-new mode of transport being trialled in Bristol is looking to change all that.
Local bus operator First West of England has joined forces with Bristol-based technology start-up Esoterix Systems to make people’s morning commute quicker by transporting people by taxi from a pick-up point near their home to a bus stop where they can hop on a bus and get to work without having to worry about parking.
Starting from Tuesday 15th May, in a trial said to be the first of its kind in the UK, people living in Henleaze and Westbury Park walk - no more than 250 yards from their doorstep - to 1 of 25 pick-up points dotted around the area. Here, a hackney-style ride-sharing cab will transport them to the Nevil Road or Ashley Down Road bus stops on A38 Gloucester Road, from where high frequency buses provide direct transport to UWE, Filton Abbey Wood and other businesses in the northern fringe of Bristol or to the City Centre.
The evening return journey is even better, with passengers getting off the bus near the Co-op supermarket from where one of the ‘MYFIRSTMILE’ branded vehicles will depart and drop them off at home, using the most optimal route to drop off multiple passengers.
James Freeman, Managing Director of First West of England, says
This is a great and innovative way of helping commuters who live too far from a bus stop to use the bus. By bringing a service closer to their homes, their daily commute is easier. Plus, there’s no need to waste time looking for a place to park or pay for parking.
Technology and new data sources represent a tremendous opportunity for improving transport. The time is right for bus companies to work with innovators to improve existing services and design new ones, attracting new customers. MYFIRSTMILE is just one of the ways we’re exploring innovative ways to allow people go about their lives using smarter ways to travel by bus.
Before the public launch of the trial, a closed trial took place with selected participants to test the service and the app in preparation for a public launch. One of those trialling the service said: “I’ve never felt more in control of my morning commute”.
An integrated smartphone app covers journey planning and secure payment for both MYFIRSTMILE cab plus bus journeys across First’s Bristol Inner Zone network. The service will operate between 06:00 and 10:30 in the morning and between 15:00 and 20:00 in the evening on weekdays, excluding bank holidays. The service will benefit commuters in particular, but is open to anyone who lives in the trial area and uses the MYFIRSTMILE app.
Henleaze and Westbury Park was selected as trial area after Esoterix Systems’ rigorous analysis of anonymised mobile phone data showed that over 900 smartphone users all commute (approximately half by car) to UWE and other Northern Bristol businesses in areas that are also directly served by First Bristol services from Gloucester Road stops.
Liz Davidson, Chief Marketing Officer of Esoterix Systems, the company behind the service, said:
The analysis and behind this service involves the cutting-edge application of new technologies and data sources, including service simulations and anonymised mobile network data to understand where there is sufficient potential demand for services.
We’re doing more than connecting transport services. By using the local Co-op supermarket as a ‘hub’, passengers can easily pop in for some groceries on the way home. And because they are dropped at home, they don’t have to carry them far.
Daily travel costs just £6 all-inclusive but can be as low as £4.45 per day with a monthly pass and access to the First Bristol Inner Zone network is included. While MYFIRSTMILE doesn’t operate on weekends or bank holidays, MYFIRSTMILE week and month passes do allow travel on First’ bus services operating in the First Bristol Inner Zone network on those days. As part of the launch offer, users downloading the MYFIRSTMILE app from the Apple App Store or Google Play can travel the first day for free.
MYFIRSTMILE is the result of a collaboration between First Bus, Esoterix Systems, Bristol City Council, Transport Systems Catapult and the University West of England. The consortium submitted a proposal to Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, to develop and implement new transport services. Local supermarket Co-opsupports the trial by making three parking bays available.
The trial will run until the end of September. If successful, MYFIRSTMILE may be rolled out to other areas of the city and the country as an effective way to improve public transport options and encourage people to use the bus.