Transport for NSW will wind back two uber-style on-demand bus services operating across Sydney’s northern and western suburbs after receiving insufficient patronage.
Under what has been described as “a new stage” for the nascent public transport model, the department said the two on-demand pilots would be discontinued from Friday 24 May.
The two affected pilots are Transdev’s RidePlus pilot operating in the Manly area and Hillbus’ OurBus pilot running in the Carlingford and North Rocks area.
They are the first of the eight standalone trials of on-demand services that began operating in November 2017 to cease.
When they were introduced they were touted as a timetable-less alternative to public transport, allowing customers to book a vehicle using a standalone app or website, have it collect them from a convenient pick up location and drop them at a public transport hub or city landmark.
In many instances, the on-demand services have filled ‘first and last mile’ gaps – the distance between an individual’s home and existing transport hubs – in the public transport network.
But TfNSW data reveals the Carlingford pilot as one of the least used trial services across the network, with less than 1000 monthly trips taken during its first year (January 2018 to January 2019), though this did pick up in the last two months.
The Manly pilot has similarly struggled to climb much higher than 1500 monthly trips since the service was introduced in November 2017.
“These pilots, which are the first on-demand transport tested in NSW, are about learning as much as possible about this flexible, new format of getting customers where they need to go,” TfNSW said this week.
“We always said changes would be made as results of the pilots were evaluated.”
However the department said the model is “expected to feature in future contracts all over the state”.
As such it has also chosen to extend four pilots operating in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Eastern Suburbs, Central Coast and Newcastle for a further six months.
“Transport for NSW is using data from all pilots to plan future public transport improvements across all areas of NSW,” TFNSW said.
The department has also recently begun investigating the use of full-sized driverless commuter buses on high frequency, high patronage routes in Sydney.