Transport Secretary Grant Shapps calls for 'Taxi-like' on-demand apps to be introduced for buses

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Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, has called for an app which would allow the travelling public to call a bus via an app, similar to the kind used by taxis and private hire vehicles.

In a parliamentary discussion on 15 March, Shapps said “innovative ideas” such as having on demand buses is something that is being considered in order for members of the public to get to where they want to go.

Shapps stressed that people are already used to using such ride-hailing apps through taxi services, which he believes could be utilised for buses, especially in rural areas where transport isn’t so readily accessible.

TaxiPoint recently reported on a new £3billion fund which is part of the Government’s new ‘Bus Strategy’. Part of that money will be allocated to improving rural bus services for the public.

Shapps said: “In many parts of the country, the social value of a route is often missed by the current formulas. That is one reason why, with this bus strategy, we have launched a £20 million fund to develop rural services that work better.

”A lot of that is about making sure that, to have that certainty, the service is more regular and is funded, even at times when it requires public support to be funded.”

He went on to touch on the idea of on-demand bus apps, saying: “There are other innovative ideas, including, for example, having buses available on demand.

”People are used to using an app to call a taxi, why should they not be able to do that to have a bus route go via them in order to get to where they want to go? There are many very innovative ideas, which will be very applicable in rural areas as well.”

Shadow DUP spokesperson, Ian Paisley Jnr, backed the idea, saying he has been pushing the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to introduce such a service for some time.

Speaking about the possibility of an on-demand bus service, Bobby Morton, Unite National Officer for Passenger Transport, said: “Proposals to introduce an app based on demand service are misguided, it will result in the 'Uberisation' of services, leading to ‘Wacky Races’ on our roads as companies compete to collect passengers.

“App-based services will also result in the casualisation of drivers’ employment and will be an expensive two-tier service with passengers who are not digitally literate being excluded.”