Aberdeenshire Council is preparing to launch its new Demand Responsive Transport pilot initiative in the Inverurie area to replace traditional fixed-route timetabled services.
Ready2Go Around Inverurie will begin operating on Monday, August 16 to provide better access to public transport.
Operated by Watermill Coaches using five brand new wheelchair-accessible minibuses, Ready2Go Around Inverurie will operate Monday to Friday between 6.30am and 7.30pm and on Saturdays from 7.30am to 6.30pm.
Unlike the council’s A2B dial-a-bus services, customers will be able to book at any time using the Ready2Go DRT app which will be available to download from the Apple Store or Google Play Store from August 9.
Passengers can request a bus at short notice or can ask for a future departure or arrival time. If they want to travel as soon as possible, they will be provided with their pick-up time and location or, if a bus is not free, they can look for a future time. If booking ahead they will receive an acknowledgement and then close to the time of travel the predicted pick-up time and location will be confirmed.
The app will enable passengers to plan their public transport journeys and track their Ready2Go bus on a map in real-time before it arrives. The system will also provide the times of any other alternative bus services operating in the area.
Ready2Go also incorporates accessibility features, helping people with disabilities to use public transport with more assurance.
It has been created in partnership with moovit.com, an Intel company and leading ‘Mobility as a Service’ (MaaS) solutions provider.
Passengers without a smartphone who are unable to use the Ready2Go DRT app can phone the council on 01467 535 333 to book their bus.
Bookings can be made by the individual who is travelling or on behalf of someone else and passengers who are travelling with others can book for everyone at the same time.
The service will also connect to some of the main transport hubs in the area including Inverurie, Insch and Kintore railway stations to help improve onward travel opportunities.
Cllr Peter Argyle, chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, explains that even before the impact of the Covid pandemic, the use of bus services across the UK has been in decline for several years.
He says: “Since the Covid emergency, travel needs and travel demands have evolved with a massive increase in people working from home, a surge in online shopping and the development of tele-healthcare. Peak workers’ travel requirements – which formed the previous service delivery priority – have diminished significantly and currently all travel demand by bus remains suppressed and generally more local.
“We have consulted with customers, stakeholders and suppliers to gain a far better understanding of travel needs and this has helped shape this excellent new flexible service which I am sure will be of real benefit to local residents.”
Vice-chair Cllr John Cox added: “This is an exciting time for travel in and around the Inverurie area and I am confident this enhanced transportation initiative will provide a better, more flexible type of service for many passengers and make getting around far more convenient.
“I would like to thank our officers and software partner for getting this progressed in a short space of time and I am looking forward to learning from the pilot scheme and seeing how it may be applied in other areas of Aberdeenshire in the fullness of time.”
Further details about Ready2Go are available on the Council’s website: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/public-transport/ready2go/