YorBus is a new, flexible, on-demand bus service that connects the pilot area of Ripon, Masham, Bedale and surrounding villages. In rural North Yorkshire, poor access to convenient public transport has impacted on the lives of so many people and communities, and has resulted in an over-dependence on private car use, meaning that transport is far and away the highest emitting sector in North Yorkshire.
YorBus allows residents and visitors to the pilot area to book a journey on demand on one of two buses in the area, which will then turn up at the bus stop at thier chosen time. This results in a better service for customers (more regular pick-ups when and where it suits you) and lower carbon emissions (avoided private car journeys, plus fewer buses driving routes empty). So far, 36% of journeys had more than 1 passenger - the more users we can engage, the higher we can raise this number, the lower the carbon footprint of each journey will become.
The trial had some teething problems, mostly to do with poor internet connectivity for the drivers across parts of the region, but it has picked up a wide number of users, some of whom are real converts. Most of the YorBus users surveyed had not been previous users of bus services in the area, and almost a third of our users have traveled more than five times using the service in the 4 months that the trial has been running. Some users have made over 100 journeys in this short time!
We’re keen to keep learning from the trial and if it’s a success will roll out the YorBus service to other areas of North Yorkshire, for cleaner, more effective and more inclusive public transport for all the people of North Yorkshire!
Start with a pilot - taking a small focused area to start your project in allows you to learn vital lessons quickly and nimbly while minimising the impact of things that take time to get right. It also means you get to know a particular area really well, which you wouldn't get from a wider roll-out of a solution like this. This was evident with phone signal in our region - an evaluation of signal strength and coverage ahead of time ensured that the 'pit stop' places (when drivers parked up when they didn't have a pick-up scheduled) weren't in signal 'black spots', which would have led to no orders being received and unhappy customers!
Design around your customers - while designing up the project, we sought input from local residents and councillors who knew the most important places to make sure our pilot connected. These roadshows also identified the need for 'virtual' bus stops, including places that weren't currently served by a bus stop or even footpaths that could only really be reached safely by car. And during the pilot, we've made it really easy for customers to give feedback, including having an evaluator on the bus to survey the people using the service.
Number of individual users (390).
Number of repeat users (65%, 31% completing 5+ journeys).