THE future of the ground-breaking app-based bus service PickMeUp is in doubt as customers are asked for ideas on how to help it survive.

Oxford Bus Company bosses are warning they are finding it ‘challenging’ to make the innovative service commercially viable and that it could be axed without financial support from outside sources.

The warning comes after the company axed the long-running X90 coach service to London this month because the service had been making a loss.

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More than 250,000 journeys have been made on PickMeUp buses since it launched in June 2018, with 30,000 registered users signed up to the app.

PickMeUp has allowed passengers in eastern Oxford to call buses to pick them up on a selected street corner of their choice.

Oxford Mail:

The service is the largest scheme of its kind to be launched by a UK bus company and earlier this month the zone was expanded to incorporate Horspath village.

As the company launched a customer survey as part of a review, managing director Phil Southall said: “To break the 250,000-passenger journey barrier is a great landmark achievement.

“The recent introduction of the service into Horspath has also been very well received by residents in the village.

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“Over the next few months we will be reviewing the future of the service, as it is still challenging to operate on a fully commercial basis.

“As part of this process we will be asking customers to complete a survey and we would encourage as many people as possible to take part and put forward ideas on how to make the service sustainable.

“If we cannot find a sustainable way forward during this review which may include additional local or government funding, or local business support, then the service may have to end which would be a real tragedy for everyone who has come to rely on it and those who work on it.

“We need wider support of PickMeUp to help us maintain the service, which has been enjoyed by those who have used it.”

Oxford Mail:

PickMeUp was the county’s first transport service of its kind when it was introduced in June 2018, allowing passengers to request a minibus pick-up within 15 minutes at designated stops using the mobile phone app.

Passengers are matched with others wishing to make similar journeys to create ride sharing.

The service was designed to help reduce congestion and complement traditional services.

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It operates between 6am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday, between 7am and midnight on Saturday and 9am to 9pm on Sundays, with an average response time of 15 minutes. Multi-journey passes are available as well as corporate packages.

READ MORE: PickMeUp passengers enjoy first year of app-based bus service

The bus company invested £1.2m in nine 17-seat ultra-low emission Euro 6 minibuses, with Wi-Fi, USB charging points, wheelchair access and comfortable high-back seating to launch the service.

Oxford Mail:

The technology for the service was developed in partnership with Via, a United States-based market leader in ride-sharing technology.