Chariot, an initiative of the Ford Motor Company, has launched its commuter shuttle service in London, designed to help city dwellers that live in harder-to-serve areas where public transport is not easily accessible.
The new service enables passengers to complete the first and last mile of their journey faster by connecting them with nearby transit hubs and underground stations.
“The Chariot routes in London have been selected to support the current transport network,” a spokesperson for Ford Smart Mobility told Cities Today. “We’ve found some of our current users previously had loved ones dropping them at train stations, or they would drive and pay for parking at quite an expense. For example, to park at North Greenwich for 8 hours costs £13 per day.”
Four London routes have been designed to connect commuters living in densely-populated areas to existing transport networks. The routes will help fill transport gaps between several growing neighbourhoods and six London transport hubs: Clapham Junction, North Greenwich, Abbey Wood, Kennington, Vauxhall, and Battersea Park.
Up to six shuttles per hour will run at peak times, with 14 fuel-efficient minibuses. The 14-seater passenger shuttles will be able to use London’s bus lanes, and offer Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and overhead storage for laptop bags and briefcases. Selected shuttles will be wheelchair accessible, and the professional drivers will be trained to assist passengers with special needs.
“As every Chariot in operation can remove several cars from roads during peak traffic periods, the ride sharing service has the potential to be part of measures aimed at tackling both congestion and air quality issues, whilst also addressing gaps in the transport system and complementing commuter options with first- and last-mile additions, or with routes for underserved areas,” added the spokesperson.
Chariot is accessed via a smartphone app that enables users to search for a nearby route and the closest available transport hub address. The app will then locate the nearest convenient pickup point. Passengers can book a seat and track in real-time the progress of shuttles that run Monday to Friday during rush hour. With a monthly pass, single journeys cost from £1.60, and with single pay-as-you-go rides £2.40.
London is the sixth city to be served by Chariot, which operates in the United States in San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Columbus, and Austin.