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Customer Outcome 1: Flexible transport services

Greater Newcastle Future Transport Plan

Customer Outcome 1: Flexible transport services

Customer needs are met by flexible services which are convenient and responsive to customer needs

Flexible transport services mean transport services that can be tailored to meet the needs of customers. Rather than scheduled services that operate at fixed times or routes, flexible services are more responsive to individual needs or can be varied as demand changes in terms of times, routes, stops and vehicles.

Technology has enabled the emergence of new customer-focused and commercial applications of flexible transport, for example, point-to-point services (such as taxi and rideshare), Community Transport and MaaS. These new service models expand the travel choices available to customers who may have difficulty using scheduled public transport. This can include people with disability, people who are travelling out of scheduled service hours or who live or need to travel to destinations at some distance from public transport services.

uberWAV Pilot in Newcastle

The NSW Government’s point-to-point transport reforms have enabled rideshare services to flourish in NSW. New commercial options are now emerging in various locations to cater to different customer groups.

Expanding on their rideshare service, Uber launched a 12-month uberWAV pilot in Newcastle in December 2016. Specially equipped and certified wheelchair accessible vehicles are available for request through the Uber app in Newcastle. The vehicles are operated by top-rated local driver partners who choose to undertake third-party training with a Registered Training Organisation. All vehicles requested through the uberWAV option in the app are equipped with a rear-entry ramp, winch and restraints, enabling a wheelchair user to ride safely and comfortably.

The uberWAV pilot has been supported by several local service providers and representative bodies, including the Community Disability Alliance Hunter, Life Without Barriers, Castle Personnel, Northcott, Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and Lifestyle Solutions.

A large proportion of Greater Newcastle is rural, semi-rural or has low population and employment densities. It is often not cost effective to provide frequent scheduled public transport services to these areas due to their distance to centres and lower level of demand.

We also anticipate that areas within Greater Newcastle will be home to a large percentage of older people, particularly out towards Nelson Bay and around Lake Macquarie (refer to Figure 10). Older people are often reliant on friends and family or public transport, including Community Transport, to travel around.

The provision of flexible, on demand public transport services is an option for these areas. Flexible, on demand transport services enable customers to book personalised transport services to access services like key bus stops and stations as well as health services and shopping precincts when they need it.

Advances in technology will continue to enable opportunities to ensure that no one is left out and that people across Greater Newcastle will have more choice in how they travel to the places they need and want to go without having to rely on using a private vehicle.

On demand transport services trial in Newcastle

The first trial of on demand public transport in Greater Newcastle began in January 2018. Customers taking part in in the trial can download an app connecting them with buses that will come right to their door or a convenient location in the Lake Macquarie area.

The on demand trial will operate in addition to existing routes during daytime off-peak periods and on weekends in Dudley, Whitebridge, Mount Hutton, Windale, Tingira Heights, Eleebana, Warners Bay, Gateshead and Charlestown areas.

Using the on demand app on a smart device, customers are able to book a service and pre-pay or pay cash to the driver for a bus to pick them up from near their home or a convenient location and take them to where they want to go within the geographically defined on demand area.

The Newcastle Transport on demand app matches customers travelling in the same direction, creating an optimised, flexible route that responds to demand and does away with timetables. This is exciting technology and provides customers with a more flexible, convenient transport solution to get them to where they want to go.

The results of the 12 month trial will be used to consider options for rolling out on demand across a larger area to improve accessibility and choice for an increased number of customers.

Customers can find out more information about Newcastle Transport on demand services at www.newcastletransport.info/on-demand or by calling 1300 590 506

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