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Oxford’s PickMeUp bus service at risk due to lack of funding

The PickMeUp bus service is at risk of being axed if further funding cannot be sourced, warns the Oxford Bus Company.

The on-demand ride-sharing minibus service was launched in June 2018 and is advertised as the equivalent of “Uber for buses”. It currently boasts over 250,000 completed journeys, as well as having more than 30,000 users registered on its app.

However, despite an expansion into Horspath village last month, the company behind the pioneering service has revealed that its future remains uncertain as it enters the final phase of its three year pilot scheme.

A customer survey has been released to help gather ideas on how to make the service financially viable. Phil Southall, managing director of the Oxford Bus Company, said “To break the 250,000-passenger journey barrier is a great landmark achievement.

“Over the next few months we will be reviewing the future of the service, as it is still challenging to operate on a fully commercial basis.

“If we cannot find a sustainable way forward during this review which may include additional local or government funding, or local business support, then the service may have to end which would be a real tragedy for everyone who has come to rely on it and those who work on it.

“We need wider support of PickMeUp to help us maintain the service, which has been enjoyed by those who have used it.”

This statement comes after the company decided to withdraw its X90 coach service to London, which had been making a substantial annual loss.

PickMeUp is a pioneering appbased transport service which serves the eastern part of the city, the first of its kind in the county. According to their website, an ultra-low emission minibus will pick a customer up “within a short walkable distance” of where they are, with an average response time of 10-15 minutes. Their software ensures passengers wanting to make similar journeys are then matched up to share a ride to their destination.

Initially introduced to help ease congestion and combat pollution in the city centre, the service has since expanded to Summertown, Jericho and Horspath village, with the fleet growing from six to nine buses to cater to increasing demand.

The service is accessible from the PickMeUp app, operating between 6am and 11pm on weekdays, from 7am to midnight on Saturday and from 9am to 9pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

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