You probably know Citymapper as a super-useful app that makes sense of London’s complex knot of transport options, helping you get from A to B even if you’re half-asleep, half-cut or stranded in Zone 8. But the startup has also been running a few transport services of its own recently, notably the CM2 night bus and a network of shared black cabs. Today it’s launched the next phase of the experiment, and you can try it for free.
As well as plugging gaps in the TfL network, the company says its data has helped it identify the biggest problems with public transport. Its latest solution is a network of eight-passenger minivans called Citymapper Smart Ride, which mean it doesn’t need to follow stricter regulations that apply to buses carrying nine or more passengers.
The Smart Ride vans are like regular London buses in that they follow set routes, but in other ways they’re more like a regular ride-sharing service (think Uber Pool). Summon them to a point on the route near you, and they’ll turn up in a few minutes and drop you at whatever bit of the route is closest to your destination, picking up other passengers along the way.
Want to give it a go? Don’t hang about – open up your Citymapper app today and you’ll see a tempting little icon on the home screen marked ‘Secret’. This’ll show you the Smart Ride network: for now, a fairly small area between Blackfriars, the Barbican and King’s Cross. Hit ’Book & Go’, sign up to the service if you haven’t yet, and a Smart Ride vehicle will rock up near you.
Oh, and for the first week, there’s no fare at all. That’s right: free travel around this patch of central London for the next seven days. See you on the smart bus!