Test-run two: Yate to Southmead Hospital
The 22nd November was a rainy day. Swathes of Britain had been flooded and, although Bristol wasn’t as badly affected as other areas, many of the country roads that commuters often use as alternative routes into and out of Bristol were out of action. This made traffic in and around the city particularly bad.
The 22nd November was also the day that we ran our second test-run, from Yate to Southmead Hospital. Here’s a summary of how it went, rain and all.
As we had in our first test-run, we ran two vehicles during two 3 hour windows, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. However, because individuals’ work hours at the hospital vary considerably, many of the passengers who had registered to use buxi couldn’t because the departure times didn’t suit them. Some got in touch to express their disappointment and continued interest in buxi, including Kerry Cleaver who said
“I was really excited at the thought of not having to drive to work but unfortunately the timings don’t fit round my day […] what a shame! I think it’s a great idea though and hope it takes off.”
In fact excitement about buxi was common from all the passengers. One lady normally catches the bus to work. It takes her two hours to get to work (and she often arrives late) and two hours to get home again. Four hours on buses, on top of her full working day. To be collected from close to home and taken directly to work, and to arrive within an hour was a real treat. When asked what she’d pay for the service she said, ‘Any price would be considered’. The sentiment of a woman who is tired and frustrated and feels stuck.
Another passenger normally travels to work by train. This involves a 30 minute walk from the hospital to the station, the commuter train which stops at Abbey Wood is notoriously over-crowded and uncomfortable, and she relies on her husband to collect her from the station at the end of the day.
But for most, (as in Kerry’s case) it was relief that they didn’t have to drive.
Interestingly, approximately 40% of the respondents to the test-run offer lived outside the test-run area. They had their own stories of the daily difficulty they face in getting to work.
It is clear that the people working at Southmead are putting extraordinary effort into getting to the hospital to do their jobs.
During conversations with passengers on the buxis, all expressed an interest in using the service in the future although for some their decision would, naturally, be price dependent. We already know that cost is a key decision factor, even if they currently feel desperate the price has to be fair. And the service has to offer tangible benefits over their existing journey.
Despite the extra heavy traffic caused by the rain, we completed our journeys in less time than the passengers would normally expect to take in their cars. The bus lanes helped a little (even if they are only in operation from 7.30 to 9.30), as did the experience of our ever chirpy drivers, Matt and Chris.
Happy passengers, collected without a hitch, delivered on time, and expressing an interest in using buxi in the future: we gave ourselves a tick. The main lesson learnt was a good one: people travel to and from from the hospital throughout the day rather than just at peak times.
If you took part in the test run, how do you feel about buxi? Your thoughts and experiences, as ever, are crucial to us building the service you want.