"Arriva bus's Click service"

Life For the past couple of weeks my foot's been aching which curtailed somewhat my important walks to work and back with all of their exercise potential. The other morning I realised why this was the case as I once again bashed the back of my heal on the underneath of my wooden bed frame as I stumbled out from under my duvet.  The other evening after walking around work all day, my right foot was hurting so much I had a pronounced limp.  I was lolloping.

Which seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out Arriva bus's Click service which launched at the end of August and is currently piloting in the South Liverpool area.  In their words "a flexible minibus service that takes multiple passengers all heading in the same direction", it's essentially a shared Uber or Lyft that starts and stops along adhoc routes governed by the onboard satnav.  You can watch the promotional video here and see the areas it covers.

As you can see, the service was originally launched in Sittingborne and has apparently had an impressive embrace according to Coach & Bus Week: "During the pilot in Kent, more than 50% of customers surveyed switched from using private cars to ArrivaClick, with 61% of users using the service a few times a week or more. 43% adopted the service for their daily commute."  I can see why.  So far it's been marvelous.

Just as I assume Uber works, the user plonks the pick-up and destination spots into a map on the app and either a pre-brooked slot or requests a pick-up there and then.  The app then works out the details of the route, tells you where you'll be picked up and tells you when the bus will arrive along with the price.  On most occasions so far this has been a ten minute wait, which is just enough time to pop into a supermarket and pick up a newspaper and whatever ever else.

The buses as you can see from the pictures are extreme comfortable, probably excessively so considering the length of the journey most people will be taking.  There are tables with cup holders (I know!) (right!), charging ports and an on-board wifi.  The blue lighting reminds me of Robert Pattinson's limousine in Cosmopolis which is expressively moody in the evening since the clocks changed and its dark outside.

It's much nicer experience than a standard bus, especially since out of the five trips I've taken so far, I've been the only passenger on four of them.  Which isn't not entirely a concern.  If this is just a pilot, Arriva are unlikely to continue if the audience doesn't increase.  But I have seen Click cars during the day with a few passengers so it might just be the time of day I've been travelling, at the tired end of rush hour.

It's cheaper than a taxi.  Trips home have been costing £2.70 which is more expensive than a standard bus (£2.30 flat fair) but compares favourably to a £5 taxi, especially now that the local fares are increasing.  The price is calculated based on time of day and remoteness of destination.  If I wanted to visit Speke from home it's £5.60 which is more expensive than the usual bus but will presumably be faster depending on the number of stops in between.

The only real problem is that the journey is at the mercy of an algorithm and I'm still trying to find the best pick-up and drop-off slots.  The first time I attempted to program a trip, the app offered a pick up point which was within a few streets of home which I had to get to within minutes and was essentially the whole journey.  Rebooking from a slightly different landmark, the nearby Subway (sandwich shop) rather than the awkward location of my work seemed to straighten things out.

Dropping off has been a bit random.  The app mapping can't quite wrap its digits around the location of our tower block so the bus has sometimes veered off course.  Fortunately all the drivers I've encountered so far have been extremely friendly and helpful and been happy to veer off whatever the satnav is telling them to simply drop me outside the main gate to the property.  This doesn't seem to be an uncommon problem; one of the drivers did refer to teething problems.

But suffice to say, I really like this service for all of the reasons I've already mentioned.  Now that my foot's better, I'm most likely to be using it on a Sunday so that I can be home in time for Doctor Who or rather a roast dinner and then Doctor Who.  My guess is the more people use the service, the more reliable it'll become.  I could imagine this replacing other transport as a safer, more viable way to travel.  Although it stops at 8pm each evening so it won't replace the night bus just yet.

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