A mobile app that allows people to hail local buses like they would a taxi has been launched in rural Aberdeenshire.

The ‘demand responsive’ service, Ready2Go, started in the Inverurie area earlier this month to provide better access to public transport. It replaces traditional fixed-route timetabled services.

Using an app, passengers will be able to request a bus at short notice or can ask for a future departure or arrival time.

Run 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.

Passengers can request a bus at short notice or can ask for a future departure or arrival time.

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.

It has been created in partnership with moovit.com, an Intel company and leading MaaS solutions provider.

Ready2Go also incorporates accessibility features, helping people with disabilities to use public transport with more assurance.

Passengers without a smartphone who are unable to use the Ready2Go app can phone the council to book their bus.

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.
Councillor Peter Argyle, chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee, said: “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 councillor 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.”