Exeter City Futures has been working with Simply Connect to accelerate its on-demand transport offering, and develop the accelerator programme ahead of its official launch.
So far we have provided Simply Connect with support for refining their business model, developing their solution, and strengthening their marketing and branding. As part of their support we have given them access to a minibus which is being used to validate the service. Exeter City Futures has also facilitated the opportunity for them to connect with key local stakeholders and businesses.
This has helped us to answer the question of what the individual requirements are for each business entering the accelerator, and what the expectations are for the support we offer. What we’ve learned from this experience has helped us structure our 15-week programme in a way that will ensure future teams have the most productive experience possible.
About Simply Connect
Simply Connect is a privately run small vehicle transport service that is initially being developed and launched in Exeter in co-operation with a range of local stakeholders. Simply Connect will use small vehicles to offer shared transport between destinations that are otherwise poorly serviced by conventional transport options.
The vehicles will pick-up and drop off multiple passengers en-route, with the fare fixed in advance. Users order the service via an app and will be picked up/dropped-off at a convenient on-street location.
Initially the service will only be available within the urban area of Exeter. The service is designed to compliment existing modes of public transport, and make it easier for users to get to railway stations and bus routes or other travel hubs.
How does that help us reach our goals?
Exeter City Futures realises that one on-demand service alone won’t help us to reach our goals – but multiple solutions that get more people into less vehicles will. We are seeking to increase the capacity of roads without adding concrete, and create more space for walking and cycling.
Many of the car journeys in Exeter are wasting space on our roads, with one person driving a vehicle with no passengers. The national single occupancy rate for cars and vans is over 60%. This is just one of the many inefficiencies that exists in the UK’s current infrastructure, evidenced by the peak hours observed in commuting traffic or energy consumption. Our systems have been designed to deal with these peaks but not to maximise utilisation of the assets we already have.
The purpose of services like Simply Connect is to get the commuters who drive alone into one full vehicle and reduce the single occupancy rate. When achieved at scale this will significantly reduce the number of cars on our roads and free up existing infrastructure.
Simply Connect is just the first of what we hope will be many similar solutions that collectively help us achieve zero congestion in Exeter. It is currently testing its service within Exeter and is hoping to launch more widely later in May.