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'Uber-style' bus service may replace timetabled buses in rural areas

An ‘Uber-style’ bus service may be rolled out in some parts of the Royal Borough this year.

A ‘demand responsive’ service could be introduced in rural parts of the borough to eventually replace time-tabled services.

It is hoped the scheme would reduce the ‘unsustainable’ amount the council currently spends on transport.

Speaking at the Parish Conference, at Windsor Guildhall, on Thursday, February 15, the Borough’s Head of Highways Ben Smith said: “Limited people use the services in rural areas but it’s extremely

important to the people who use them.

“This service will require fewer vehicles, smaller vehicles, which can get around rural areas more easily.”

The council is still in the early stages of developing the service and is looking to Ford Chariot in London, ReadiBus’s ‘dial-a-ride’ service in Reading and ArrivaClick in Kent for inspiration.

Mr Smith said not all passengers have smartphones so the borough may look to use ReadiBus’s call-centre system rather than the phone app used by ArrivaClick.

The council is looking to switch from the current timetabled services in rural areas in an attempt to save money.

Mr Smith said the council spends £3m a year on transport and is ‘beholden’ to operators.

He said timetabled services in rural areas were ‘unsustainable’ and the borough must look into a model of transport that is 'better, more stable and more cost-effective'.

Richard Porter, of the Marlow-Maidenhead Passengers’ Association, said: “I can’t see how an on-demand bus service in rural areas can be responsive or economic.

“You might as well just use Uber. Maybe that’s what the council wants.”

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