ViaVan's technology directs passengers to a nearby “virtual bus stop” for pick-up and drop-off. Photo: ViaVan

ViaVan's technology directs passengers to a nearby “virtual bus stop” for pick-up and drop-off. Photo: ViaVan

Transport for London (TfL) awarded a contract to ViaVan for a one-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.

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 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.

ViaVan is the European joint venture between U.S.-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.

Sutton has some of the highest private vehicle usage rates in London, as 71% of households have access to a car, alongside low public transit connectivity, ranking in the bottom 20% of PTAL scores, or Public Transit Accessibility Levels.

The one-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.

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