“Stagecoach Connect” will be free for NHS staff, and will be launched at Sherwood Forest Hospital NHS Trust in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council. Via

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ViaVan and Stagecoach launched UK’s first demand-responsive public bus service for exclusive use by essential NHS workers, powered by a mobile app.

“Stagecoach Connect” will be free for NHS staff, and will be launched at Sherwood Forest Hospital NHS Trust in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council. The service has the potential to grow and support other NHS trusts across the UK, including in Humberside.

The service was concepted and launched in just two weeks as a way to use technology to expand access to safe, flexible, and efficient transport to-and-from hospital shifts in the morning and late evening hours. Previously, hospital staff either drove a personal vehicle or took a bus with limited operating hours, no visibility into seat availability, and manual routing by drivers.

Now, Stagecoach Connect, powered by ViaVan’s technology for demand-responsive transport, will enable healthcare workers to pre-book a seat in a dynamically routed bus during extended hours. The service is designed as a complement to existing fixed line services provided by Stagecoach and bus operators around the country. Stagecoach Connect will create a cost-effective and seamless transport option for workers, without the need for a private vehicle.

Using a mobile app, healthcare workers will be able to pre-book a seat up to one week in advance to match upcoming shift schedules, track the location of their bus, and change or cancel a booking. Riders will select a desired pick-up and drop-off location, and will be matched with a seat in a high-capacity bus that is fully compliant with public health guidelines for social distancing. ViaVan’s technology will direct healthcare workers to a nearby “virtual bus stop” for pick-up, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, fixed routes, or schedules.

The NHS is one of the world’s largest employers with approximately 1.7 million workers across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland working at hundreds of locations.

The rapid implementation of the program demonstrates the flexibility of demand-responsive technology for vital public sector services. The service showcases the potential for cities and organizations across the UK, like the NHS, to leverage smart, digital platforms as a solution for equitable access to mobility for both essential workers and communities that need to travel as we emerge from the pandemic.

Earlier this year, Stagecoach launched a new “Tees Flex” on demand service in Tees Valley as the result of a successful partnership with the Mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen. ViaVan also provides the technology to power the Tees Flex service.

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