Australian on-demand service costs over £50 per passenger

Figures obtained by the New South Wales press in Australia have revealed that a six-month trial of on-demand transport in and around Sydney has cost A$95 (£54) per passenger journey.

Thirteen trial operations are in the hands of 10 different operators, using a variety of vehicles from nine-seat Mercedes-Benz Sprinters to 28-seat BCI Proma LF midibuses.

Fares for each service vary, but in most cases are comparable to an adult single on the Opal smartcard. However, Opal cannot be used to pay for the services, which must be booked online by app or by phoning the operator.

Labor MP Hugh McDermott says fares are covering less than 3% of the trial’s cost, adding: ‘For perspective, on the wider bus network fares typically cover 24% of the journey.’

Transport minister Andrew Constance defended the trials, asserting that Labor was using old figures. ‘We’ve now had 60,000 passenger trips on on-demand,’ he told the 7 News television service. ‘We’ve had one of the fastest uptakes in the world and we are running trials to see what the community response is.’

A 14th scheme, described as permanent, started in Inner West Sydney on 1 July. The contractor Transit Systems — owner of Tower Transit in London — has obtained four 18- seat Hino Poncho HXs in an overall wrap livery, which gives prominence to the name of app provider Bridj.