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Victoria bus operator launches demand-responsive service

Ventura, the state’s largest bus provider, has launched a new demand-responsive transport service and mobility app in partnership with Department of Transport Victoria and Moovit.

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Service can be used by those living in suburban areas of Rowville (above) and Ferntree Gully
Service can be used by those living in suburban areas of Rowville (above) and Ferntree Gully

Ventura, the Australian state of Victoria’s largest bus provider, has launched a new demand-responsive transport service and corresponding urban mobility app available to those living in Rowville and Ferntree Gully.


This is Ventura’s first demand-responsive transport service since its founding in 1924, and also reportedly the first transport service of its kind in metropolitan Melbourne.


Flexible app


Locals from the eastern suburbs are able to use the FlexiRide app, available for free on iOS and Android to plan their journeys and book demand-responsive transport rides to and from Ferntree Gully Station and Stud Park Shopping Centre. The offering has been created in partnership with Department of Transport Victoria and mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) company, Moovit.


Ventura currently operates Telebus, a phone-based request and dispatch system that relies on physical bus stops to pick up and drop off passengers and can result in relatively long wait times. As a way to modernise the service and shorten wait times, Ventura has replaced Telebus routes 7,8, and 9 with the FlexiRide app, which is powered by Moovit’s white label app solution.


The FlexiRide demand-responsive transport service is powered by Moovit’s on-demand solution, a dynamically-routed transport system that automatically assigns multiple passengers heading in the same direction to a shared vehicle.


The FlexiRide app:

  • Suggests the most efficient routes: once a user launches the FlexiRide app and inputs their destination, FlexiRide will display the most convenient routes
  • Enables users to book FlexiRide: users can select transit on-demand to book FlexiRide and travel from any virtual stop to one of two major hubs at Ferntree Gully Station or Stud Park Shopping Centre. Rides can also be booked in the opposite direction and travel from one of the two hubs back to any virtual stop within the zone
  • Directs passengers to a nearby pick-up location: once the ride is booked, riders receive guidance to a virtual bus stop within a short walking distance
  • Provides riders with real-time shuttle tracking: while waiting for their ride, users can track the approaching vehicle in real-time and view its estimated arrival time; and while riding, users can view the route on the map, as well as the estimated time to drop-off
  • Enables future ride booking: rides can be booked up to a week in advance.
The mobility app directs passengers to a nearby pick-up location
The mobility app directs passengers to a nearby pick-up location

To pay for their ride, passengers can tap on with their Myki as they board the vehicle, just as they would do with any other service.

 

In addition to booking demand-responsive rides, the FlexiRide app combines official information from local transport agencies in Melbourne and the surrounding area as well as crowdsourced information to calculate the best route for each journey with urban mobility options like the bus, train, and tram.

“Ventura has been searching for the right technology partners over the last three years and after investigating trials in other cities”

FlexiRide also provides real-time arrival information so users know exactly when their bus or train is arriving, a Live Directions feature with get-off alerts to provide step-by-step guidance for the entire journey, and service alerts so they can avoid disruptions and plan their journey accordingly.

 

FlexiRide also incorporates accessibility features to people with disabilities to use public transportation with more assurance. The app is optimised with screen reading features for low vision users, including talkback/voiceover capabilities, identifies wheelchair-accessible routes and stations, and calculates step-free routes. FlexiRide’s app is also designed with optimised menus and buttons for those with hand-motor disabilities.


“Ventura has been searching for the right technology partners over the last three years and after investigating trials in other cities, we were comfortable with Moovit’s global reach and willingness to understand and cater for our passenger’s needs,” said Andrew Cornwall, managing director at Ventura.


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