Sydney commuters are taking to a new on-demand bus service rolled out in the city’s west, with many claiming to be choosing the service over their usual form of transport – the private passenger vehicle.
Under operation since late May in Sydney suburbs The Ponds, Schofields and Kellyville Ridge, Cooee Busways offers first and last mile rides for passengers linking them to Sydney Metro public transport hubs.
According to Cooee Busways, the uptake has been outstanding, and has seen the service hit passenger targets well ahead of schedule.
In under three months, one-third of local residents in the area serviced downloaded the Cooee app resulting in 20,000 rides, with 55 per cent of those riding choosing to use the Cooee service instead of drive their car.
Of that 55 per cent, half said their private vehicle was primarily used for commuting and 4 per cent of that portion of riders said they have since sold their car.
“Via’s technology is redefining mobility across the globe, and we’re thrilled to see such a positive reaction from Cooee Busways riders since launching the new on-demand service,” said Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via who launched the project.
“This project proves that the easier it is to take public transport, the more people will reliably choose it over their private vehicle.”
Riders booking the service via the Cooee smartphone app can book for up to 7 passengers at a time, then make their way to a designated safe “virtual bus stop” which can then take them to Schofields Train Station and the new Sydney Metro stations at Tallawong and Rouse Hill.
“We are ecstatic over the success of the Cooee Busways service so far. To see ridership grow this quickly in a short space of time has been nothing short of a great achievement for the teams behind the project. It wouldn’t have been possible without Transport for NSW and Via working with us to deliver this futuristic passenger transport service, now,” Busways’ managing director Byron Rowe said in a note by email.
“We’re getting people out of their cars, easing traffic congestion, freeing up parking spots, and making the integrated transport network work better for people.
“The execution from the teams involved has been outstanding — from using the right technology, to picking the area, designing the service, choosing the vehicles and kicking it all off with a proper marketing campaign.”
The Cooee Busways project is the fourth such “microtransit” project undertaken by Via, with previous deployments undertaken in Newcastle, Northern Beaches and Macquarie Park as well as an autonomous deployment in Coffs Harbour involving a self-driving shuttle called BusBot.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.