Dedicated demand responsive transport trial launched for NHS workers

An app-based demand responsive bus service for NHS workers has been launched by Stagecoach in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust and ViaVan. The new Stagecoach Connect service started on a trial basis at King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield from 18 May.

Stagecoach and ViaVan say the service was developed in just two weeks to help NHS employees access hospitals and other key workplaces in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The service at King’s Mill Hospital will operate early morning and late evening hours, an expansion from the existing fixed line service which is focused on creating access for healthcare workers during additional shift patterns.

Through the use of a mobile app, powered by ViaVan’s technology, healthcare workers are able to track the location of their bus, change or cancel a booking, and pre-book up to a week in advance to match shift schedules. They will select a desired pick-up and drop-off location, and will be matched with a seat in a high-capacity bus that is fully compliant with public health guidelines for social distancing. The technology will direct healthcare workers to a nearby ‘virtual bus stop’ for pickup.

“We have all been overwhelmed and deeply proud of the huge effort of all key workers, particularly our fantastic doctors, nurses, cleaners and their support teams right across the NHS,” says Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths. “In just two weeks, we have worked with our partners to develop a new dedicated service that will go live this month and help 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 an easy technology solution, has huge potential right across the NHS and for other major organisations seeking a better and more sustainable solution to crowded car parks and unnecessary ‘single use’ polluting car trips.

“As we come out of lockdown into our new normal, we are looking at how this type of service can support the public and private sector in getting back on its feet, and helping communities across the country recover.”