Public transport app Citymapper is making the move from cataloguing services provided by others to laying on a bus service of its own as it gears up to become a transport provider.
The digital start-up will begin trials of its ‘smart bus’ service this week by operating a loop around central London, stopping at existing bus stops with the offer of fare free travel.
A fleet of distinctive green buses have been bought for the role although you will have to fight for a seat with just 30 places to be found on each vehicle – although features such as USB charging and live screen updates will offer passengers a more hi-tech experience than that offered by a trusty Routemaster.
Making the most of its data credentials Citymapper will keep tabs on passenger numbers and traffic in real-time and if successful could lead to the roll out of a scaled-up service offering ticketed travel to areas of the city presently underserved by public transport, having already identified several possible routes.
In a statement Citymapper said: “Buses haven’t evolved enough. They still roam around cities utilising old systems of operations and inefficient technology. If we’re going to solve urgent problems of congestion and infrastructure, we need buses to improve, to operate smarter. In the era of smartphones we can have responsive buses that react to real-time needs.
"Reinventing the bus is crucial for the future of our congested cities and infrastructure. Let's figure out how to make cities more usable."
Citymapper is working with Transport for London on the enterprise, hoping to convince it to bend the rules to allow it to operate flexible bus routes which can skirt areas of heavy traffic.
Citymapper is one of a number of companies seeking to drag Britain's antiquated transport network into the 21st century with Google and Uber in the running to help operate a new high speed rail line connecting London with the north.