PASSENGERS say they are being let down by Oxford's new on-demand bus service as part of the app is suspended following complaints.

Some disgruntled customers who have 'pre-booked' using Oxford Bus Company’s new flagship Pick-Me-Up app have said they were left stranded when buses they thought would arrive didn't show up.

Meanwhile a local charity have launched a petition against the app, dubbed 'Uber for Buses', claiming the transport scheme is inaccessible to people with learning disabilities and under 18s.

Despite positive reviews from most customers, since its launch in June a number of passengers have been left to find alternative travel arrangements at the last minute when pre-booked buses had not turned up.


Last Thursday Tesco worker Pauline Beal, who relies on the service, was 'left stranded' at Oxford Retail Park where she works after her pre-booked bus failed to turn up.

Her husband Andrew said the 56-year-old, who has mobility issues following a stroke last year, was left upset and unsure of how she was going to get home.

Mr Beal who had booked the service on his wife’s behalf said: “I had booked it in the morning to pick her up at 3pm.

“I checked the app at two minutes to three and everything seemed fine.

“Then just after three I got a call from her saying the bus hadn’t turned up.

“When I checked the app again the booking had disappeared – they didn’t notify me or anything.”


Mr Beal text the company to ask what had happened, to which the service replied that the pre-scheduled pick-up had been cancelled.

He added: “After her stroke she isn’t confident when she’s out on her own because she can’t walk very far.

“What if I’d been in a meeting and she couldn’t get hold of me?

“She was left very upset by it and I’m angry that they can book a job then cancel it and not even tell you.”

Launched in June, bus company bosses said the pick-me-up service aimed to reduce congestion and improve services to the city's 'Eastern Arc'.

The scheme allows passengers to order a bus to a ‘virtual stop’ on demand, with journeys - matched to others travelling on a similar route - costing £2.50 per ride.


The general on-demand pick-me-up service is still available as usual.

However, despite suspending the pre-booking service, the company has argued that that part of the app had never been intended to provide a guaranteed pick-up appointment.

Managing director at the Oxford Bus Company, Phil Southall, said the pre-booking service essentially allowed passengers to pre-book a request for a pick up only, and not a definite collection appointment.

At the pre-scheduled time, the app will send the request through to the driver as is done when making a normal on-demand booking.

However, at that point the service prioritises pick-ups at locations where the majority of passengers are waiting.

Mr Southall said: “We were sorry to hear the problems Mr and Mrs Beal had using the app and our customer services team were on hand to help guide them through the process.

“This is new and innovative technology, and like any new system there will be some areas to refine as we gain experience.

“We’ve gathered customer feedback on the pre-book facility and learned that some customers expect it to provide extra priority on our service over rides requested for immediate pick up.

“This wasn’t the idea, as a demand responsive service seeks to treat all customers equally."

The bus company boss added that the service has so far received five-star reviews from 97 per cent of users who have left feedback.

Meanwhile disability charity My Life My Choice has launched a petition to pressure the company into providing a more inclusive service for those with learning disabilities.

Bosses at the charity said: “For many people with learning disabilities, as well as older people and teenagers without access to their own bank accounts, the fact that you need to sign in online and give electronic bank details stops them from being able to use the Pick-Me-Up service.”

The charity has suggested the company create an ‘Oyster card type system’ where users can top up a card with cash to use on the app or allow people with a concessionary bus pass to use those details to login to the app rather than bank card details.

Oxford Bus Company said it was looking into the charity’s claims and ‘actively investigating’ whether it could make changes to support its requests.