Ford Motor Company confirm plans that their ride-sharing service, “Chariot”, will be heading to the streets of London once their application has been accepted.
The ride-sharing service start-up was bought by Ford in September 2016 for an estimated £50m, with versions of the service already operating in 4 US cities including Austin, Seattle, New York and San Francisco who’s services were briefly suspended by California regulators for supposed inspection failures.
The rapid expansion of tech-driven private commuter services has sparked unease, in case on-demand travel tempts passengers away from public transport. Total passenger journeys on London’s public transport have been flat since 2014/15, hovering around 4bn, after several years of strong growth, according to TfL data.
However, Chariot has insisted that the service it plans to offer in the UK will be complementary to the existing public transport system, should TfL grant its licence application.
“Chariot operates in four markets: San Francisco, New York, Austin and Seattle in the US,” the company said in a statement. “We continue to explore additional markets as part of our expansion plans. We have applied for the relevant licences to operate a commuter microtransit service in London that would complement the existing public transport system. We are now awaiting a response from TfL.”
Chariot, founded three years ago in San Francisco by entrepreneur Ali Vahabzadeh, was the first acquisition made by Ford’s Smart Mobility division, which is focused on future transportation systems such as ride-sharing and self-driving cars.
Ford also opened a Smart Mobility Office in London this summer, which it hopes to make its European centre for future mobility solutions. Ford said that the London office would hire 40 researchers and allow the company to be nearer to some of its trials, including the launch of a project involving a plug-in hybrid Transit van fleet later this year.
Read more about the Ford Transit plug-in hybrid trial here.
Updated – Ford’s Chariot service has launched in London with 4 out of 6 routes approved by TFL (Transport for London)
From 1st February 2018 Ford will be operating their ride-sharing service ‘Chariot’ on a free basis until 14th February 2018 on a first come, first serve basis to encourage commuters to test out the service before paying full price to see if it improves their daily commute.
Ford have been establishing and developing their smart-mobility technologies in cohesion with Chariot and has finally started operating in Europe with London being the first city to welcome the new service.
The automotive-giant applied for 6 different routes across London, which saw 4 of them get approved by Transport for London with the other two routes being declined following comments from local residents and concerns about safety and existing services, the 4 routes approved are as follows:
- The Wandsworth Wanderer will link residents living in new developments, such as the Riverside Quarter complex in Wandsworth, with Clapham Junction allowing them to transfer onto National Rail, London Overground and Gatwick Express services
- The Shooters Hill Shot will connect residential areas of the Royal Borough of Greenwich to North Greenwich Underground Station for easy access westbound to Canary Wharf and central London and eastbound to ExCeL and City Airport, as well as nearby major attractions like the O2
- The Nuxley Navigator will connect the increasingly popular residential areas of Belvedere and Nuxley Village to Abbey Wood station and National Rail services to London Bridge, as well as the forthcoming Elizabeth Line
- The Battersea Bullet will serve the recently opened Battersea Power Station mixed-use neighbourhood and the Nine Elms area – yet to be fully connected to the main transport networks – and connect to the Victoria Line, in Vauxhall and the Northern Line, at Kennington
From now until Feb 14 commuters will be able to use the service for free, on a first come first served basis, by inserting voucher code HELLOLDN in the payment section.
Then, with a monthly pass, single journeys cost from £1.60, with single pay-as-you-go rides £2.40.
Take a look at Ford Europe video about the new service.