Van-share service gets thumbs-up from Sydney residents

18th June 2019 Christopher Carey

Trials of on-demand public transport are changing the way Sydney’s residents think about mobility.

Keoride, which operates two of the 11 on-demand services across Australia’s largest city, has seen a sharp increase in ridership, with one trial in Sydney’s Northern Beaches area carrying 120,000 passengers since its launch in November 2017.

The service, which is provided through a partnership between Keolis Downer, Via, AECOM, GoGet, Data61 and Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW), was given the Overall Smart City Project award at the 2018 Smart City Awards.

David Adelman, Vice President of Global Partnerships at Via, said: “We have a very strong ridership that continues to grow and have received very positive feedback. All the surveys we’ve done have shown a 95 percent plus customer satisfaction rate.”

The trial allows customers to book a vehicle that picks them up from their home, a pickup point, or their nearest bus stop to take them directly to a BRT station. Trips can be booked through the Keoride app, a web-based booking platform or by phone.

Currently nine vehicles operate in a 40 km2 zone and riders can use their contactless Opal card to tap in and out.

“Due to the requirements set out by TfNSW for the trial, the service must only go to and from three BRT stations, covering the so-called first and last mile,” Adelman added.

In May this year, TfNSW announced the project would be extended by another six months.

“These pilots, which are the first on-demand transport tested in [the state], are about learning as much as possible about this flexible, new format of getting customers where they need to go,” a TfNSW spokesperson said.

The objective of the programme is to test and learn through the delivery of temporary pilots, each with unique characteristics and each serving different areas and communities in NSW.

“Not every on-demand service around the world has been a smashing success, and we [Via] often get asked what are the keys to success and what makes these deployments work,” said Adelman. “Really it’s about three things: quality and short wait times; competitive pricing: we like to price in between a bus and taxi; and regulation, where city authorities can really do a lot to help.”

ViaVan (a joint venture between Via and Daimler) won the Public and Urban Strategy award at the UITP 2019 Global Public Transport Summit in Stockholm.

They received the award along with project partners Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), for their BerlKönig ride-sharing deployment in Berlin, which since its launch in September 2018 has seen more than 650,000 shared rides provided.

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