HUNDREDS of passengers have welcomed a new ‘Uber for Buses’ service launched by the Oxford Bus Company.

The firm has invested £850,000 in six 17-seat ultra-low emission Euro 6 minibuses, with Wi-Fi, USB charging points and wheelchair access.

Residents in the east of the city can now order a bus to a ‘virtual stop’ on demand after the PickMeUp app went live on Monday.

PickMeUp will allow 33,000 residents, workers and students in a 12.2 square mile area around Oxford to request a bus within minutes at a stop using a new mobile phone app.

Oxford Mail:

The service does not go door to door but offers flexibility for passengers who can choose the starting and finishing point of any journey within the chosen zone around East Oxford.

Oxford Bus Company managing director Phil Southall said at the launch today: “Passengers using the service have been very positive on Twitter and every single passenger has given it a five-star rating on the app.

“People have made it clear to us that they are open to alternatives to using their cars – but while our existing services are excellent at providing radial routes into the city centre I am told that orbital connectivity around the ring road is missing for those who wish to give up their car when travelling to sites in the Eastern Arc.

“Our new PickMeUp service provides this new connectivity and is a new idea in transport, using the very latest mapping and aggregation technology. It’s got the potential to be part of the solution in tackling air quality and traffic congestion in many towns and cities.”

Oxford Mail:

The service, with 1,906 stops, will cover the railway station, Thornhill and Redbridge park-and-rides, Oxford Science Park, Oxford Business Park, the John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals, Oxford University science area and Oxford Brookes Brookes University.

PickMeUp can reach parts of the city that OBC’s existing services can not, as it is not tied to existing bus stops. It will operate between 6am and 11pm Monday to Friday and between 9am and 8pm at weekends, with an expected average response time of around 10 minutes.

An introductory fare of £2.50 per journey will be charged, with a surcharge of £2.50 if the journey could be made via an existing OBC bus route.

Hugh Jaeger, spokesman for the Oxford branch of Bus Users UK, said: “People living in parts of the city who lost routes when they were cut in 2016 will welcome this. It’s a radical departure and an innovative pilot scheme.”