Co-ops work together to make coach travel fairer

Two co-operative businesses are developing a service to get a better deal for people buying public transport tickets. Atomised and Go-op are creating a website and mobile app...

Two co-operative businesses are developing a service to get a better deal for people buying public transport tickets.

Atomised and Go-op are creating a website and mobile app that could save coach travellers in particular money, as well as being easier to use, and they are looking for volunteers to help test it.

Coachfairer is the idea of Fife-based worker co-op Atomised, which has been researching, designing and building software for eight years. It has also been studying the shortcomings of public transport ticketing and considering how to improve it.

Go-op is a newer enterprise, formed in south west England by a group of public transport users and workers to cut carbon emissions from travel. It offered to bring Coachfairer to a wider audience, including its own members and members of the large retail societies it works with.

Alex Lawrie, chief executive of Go-op, explains how Coachfairer works: “Consider a journey from Dundee to Birmingham. If you ask existing websites about the journey, you may be told how much it would cost as a single journey by one operator or how the journey could be done by multiple operators, for example Dundee to Glasgow with one coach, and Glasgow to Birmingham with another. But you won’t be told both, so you can’t compare prices easily.

“What’s more, sometimes you can save money by ‘splitting’ a ticket. The same journey, on the same coach, could be described as two journeys – Dundee to Leeds, and Leeds to Birmingham. The combined cost of these journeys is significantly less.

“Coarchfairer tells you when there are savings to be made, and takes some of the work out of booking them. All this has been made possible by timetable data being made ‘open data’ by the government’s not-for-profit Traveline consortium.”

The Coachfairer website will include maps showing alternative routes, powered by Atomised’s high-speed journey planner, and consumers will for the first time be able to combine and compare coach journeys complete with prices.

“It’s still in its early stages,” Mr Lawrie said, “but Go-op is recruiting a group of pioneer users willing to use the site while the last few bugs are still being weeded out. Their experiences, which may sometimes be a bit mixed, will be essential in preparing the site for a full public launch.”

• If interested in joining the testing team, email [email protected] for details.

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