PubShuttle - The cloud technology that aims to make the next generation of UK’s Public Bus Transport to hopefully become like a Bus Taxi
The UK's traditional public bus transport systems often lack accessibility, reliability, comfortability, convenience, and are extremely slow (link, link). For long routes, some commuters living in the outskirts of cities and towns alternatively prefer to use trains which are becoming expensive (link) and unreliable due to never-ending strikes (link) or other reasons leading up to unwanted cost on commuters (link, link). This leaves many ordinary commuters to think about an option of owning a car, however owning a car in the UK is burdensome as the cost associated is notoriously high even for the second hand ones (link, link, link, link) in addition to the environmental concerns like increasing carbon emission (link). Other options like cabs, ride hailing or other forms of ride sharing might be costly especially for people living in the outskirts (link, link). According to some studies these problems in some cases have been associated with mental health issues (link).
The graph below provides an overview of the general problem with public transport problem in UK:-
Use Case Scenarios:
Imagine that you are a group of 15 friends and relatives in Ely (or your town) and you want to travel by a train to Cambridge (or to your nearby city) to the pub for one of the relatives' birthday and there is unexpected train strikes or cancellation (common in our area). Then you might think of using a bus in a nearby bus terminal/stop. However, you realised later the bus has cancelled its route at that time. You would be probably very upset and with all sort of words coming out from the mouth. In these cases, commuters may end up look for an expensive option which is grabing cabs. If someone didn't plan for this scenario will end up spending more money for transport to get to that once in a year event. This may even happen for those who commute for home, work, or anywhere.
So the idea behind this project is to hopefully develop an AI enhanced mobile platform (App) which tries to connect on-demand commuters (bus riders) with any available bus operator/driver (bus-pooling) travelling from requested location (pick up location) to another destination (just single destination for a trip, sounds like "a bus taxi"). For instance, Ely to Cambridge or Littleport to Cambridge, etc, with hopefully very affordable price per booking.
The aim is that people can request a bus ride for specific number of passengers and book from anywhere within proximal locations and the app will try to dynamically determine conveniently pick up location. Then a nearby bus operator or bus pooling person will be notified about the bus riders in the determined pick up location.
Benefits and Uniqueness of the project:
It is hoped that this project will have the following unique feature and benefits:
- Prioritising efficiency by using AI/ML algorithms to intelligently match passengers (bus riders) with a similar destination and connect them in real-time with bus drivers (from nearby operators or bus poolers) who shuttle them to their common destination while “comfortably” maximising vehicle utilisation. This not only saves individuals’ time but also reduces traffic congestion and carbon emissions.
- Ensuring affordability by offering transparent per-mile pricing with no match of any traditional taxis or ride-hailing services.
- PubShuttle's user-friendly app allows you to conveniently book the bus shuttle, track its arrival, and enjoy a comfortable journey with minimal fuss. When booking, PubShuttle intelligently offers a customisable way to select the type of shuttle you like. The app will hopefully allow you to see how many other passengers requested a similar destination in your close proximity location in real time and which type of service they have requested. Then the app hopefully will connect them with the nearest bus shuttle services based on the nearby available operators/buspooling service.
- PubShuttle embraces sustainability by prioritising electric vehicles and eco-friendly practices to minimise our environmental impact.
Choose PubShuttle for reliable, comfortable, and affordable bus ride in addition to contributing to a cleaner, greener future for our cities.
I am a regular public transport user especially bus. Some routes in Cambridgeshire are very unreliable and in some places like Ely or nearby villages which are far from Cambridge no service on Sunday or public holidays. In addition, other places like Wisbech there are no any public transport at all and the only way out or in is by using private cars or cabs which might very expensive at a certain times. This could be due to the traditional nature in which the bus are operating. So, with the world of algorthms and data analytics we are living today, I think there is a need to transform our public bus transport systems.
When did the project start:?
I started to work on this project since Novemver 2022 when I was still living in Bracknell, Berkshire which seem to share similar problems with Cambridgeshire. I started to develop slowly the concept there. But its implementation has actually started recently in December 2023 after I have moved to Ely/Littleport in Cambridgeshire.
To this stage I have been using bootstrap approach to finance the project through my own small fund. The following milestones have achieved:-
- Initial team formation of one UI/UX designer, and two developers
- Project logo has been designed
- Domain name has been purchased (pubshuttle.co.uk) and back end server has been set as well
- Prototype has started to be developed
What has been learned so far:?
Generally, team management, organisation and enterprise skills. One of the thing that landed me here in crowdfunder is the book by Guy Kawasaki "The art of the Start 2.0". So, I have learned a lot along the way on entrepreneurship side hopefully for the project.
What will the money raised be spent on:?
- Development of PubShuttle platform: Initial set up of dev team, UI design and front end implementation, back end dev and initial alpha testing (will involve initial marketing) (started and hopefully ongoing but need to raise more money, however back end integration and testing hasn't started).
- Build a strong team: Recruit and onboard one software engineer, one data analytic person, and business/marketing professional hopefully ongoing).
- Secure pilot partnerships: Partner with key transportation stakeholders in Cambridgeshire to test and refine the platform in a real-world environment. This aligns with market validation and related marketing campaigns. (ideally and hopefully will start from September 2024).
What are the rewards on offer:?
The rewards on offer at this stage is hard to determine but I am still thinking on what and how. Hope you will appreciate.