Slide Ealing, an on-demand bus service provided by Transport for London (TfL), bus company RATP and German technology firm MOIA, has started picking up passengers in the west London borough.
It will operate seven days a week, from 6am to 1am, and cover an area from Southall in the west to the North Circular, and from the A40 down to Boston Manor in the south of Ealing.
The service will be available for the next 12 months as a research trial and will be socially inclusive, with Freedom Passes and the English National Concessionary pass accepted. Oyster cards will not be accepted.
Ealing has been chosen for the second research trial as there are relatively high numbers of private vehicles in the borough. Figures show that 40% of people living there use cars, whether private or hire, to get to work, and TfL believes an on-demand service could encourage people to switch to a more sustainable way of travelling.
The service will run using up to 10 new TGE MAN L4H3 Euro VI mini-buses. All vehicles are Euro 6 compliant and meet ULEZ standards.
Drivers will continue to receive the same terms and benefits as when driving a conventional London bus and the guarantee of a pay grade equivalent to their level of service and experience if they change operator.
The trial will also look to encourage Ealing residents to use public transport for the whole of their journey, linking locals with the proposed launch area’s 29 bus routes and 10 tube and rail stations.
The service does not follow a fixed route. It instead picks people up from flexible stops. Passengers can book a ride using the Slide Ealing app, or on the phone. Unaccompanied children under 13 cannot use the service.
According to TfL, once a ride has been secured, users will wait no longer than 10 minutes for a bus to arrive. Fares start at a flat rate of £3.50, with passengers able to benefit from weekly and monthly capping. Every tenth journey will be free. The new buses can also accommodate wheelchair users and are fully accessible.