ViaVan and Stagecoach have launched the UK’s first demand-responsive public bus service for exclusive use by essential NHS workers, during the Covid crisis.
“Stagecoach Connect” was launched at Sherwood Forest Hospital NHS Trust in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire this week, in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council. The service has the potential to grow and support other NHS trusts across the UK.
Conceived and launched in just two weeks, the free service offers safe, flexible and efficient transport to-and-from hospital shifts in the morning and late evening hours. Previously, hospital staff either drove a personal vehicle or took a bus with limited operating hours.
Powered by ViaVan’s technology for demand-responsive transport, Stagecoach Connect will enable healthcare workers to pre-book a seat in a dynamically routed bus during extended hours. The service is designed as a complement to existing fixed line services provided by Stagecoach and bus operators around the country.
Through the use of a mobile app, healthcare workers can pre-book a seat up to a week in advance to match upcoming shift schedules, track the location of their bus, and change or cancel a booking. ViaVan technology will direct healthcare workers to a nearby virtual bus stop for pick-up, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, fixed routes or schedules.
The service showcases the potential for cities and organizations across the UK to leverage smart, digital platforms as a solution for equitable access to mobility for both essential workers and communities.
Chris Snyder, CEO of ViaVan said: “With the future of public transport in the United Kingdom at a crossroads in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, cities today have an unprecedented opportunity to employ technology to make public transit work safely and efficiently while ensuring affordable and equitable access for all.”
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach CEO said “We know from our discussions with the NHS that a more tailored solution would deliver better employee transport. In just two weeks, we worked with our partners, including ViaVan, to develop a dedicated service to ensure essential hospital workers have fast and easy access to public transport around the clock."
“We firmly believe that demand-responsive transport, backed up by technology, has huge potential for the NHS and other major organisations seeking a better and more sustainable solution to crowded car parks and unnecessary ‘single use’ polluting car trips.”