Happy Birthday, PickMeUp!

Oxford’s on-demand ride sharing scheme, PickMeUp, is celebrating its first birthday this month and its a service that appears to be as popular now, than it was when it first started (perhaps even more popular than ever before).

I was one of the early adopters of the service, having took my inaugural Pick Me Up journey after work at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital. Claudio C was the driver,  I still see him on the PMU today. The drive was quick, efficient and smooth running and I got home around 20 minutes than usual. 

A year since the service began, I have been picked up (see what I did there?) 129 times. (I counted, via the handy app, there’s no notepad with a tally!). I usually take one journey a day, but sometimes two, or even three and all primarily going to the same place – either work, visiting family, home after work or a night out and occasionally if I think it will be quicker than a local bus route (Where I have to change once in the city centre).

The wait has increased slightly from the average 10 minute wait promised at the start of the service, but that’s to be expected when more and more people are using the service. The average wait for me, I find, is anywhere from 8 minutes to 25 minutes. Sometimes the longer wait isn’t ideal, in which case, I will hop on a normal bus and interchange in the city, but for the most part, I’ll wait. It gives me a chance to take my time getting ready for work, or have an extra ten minutes in bed! The app is super handy and if the driver is delayed, or early, you get notified instantly, something when we compare to local taxi firms, don’t offer.

The prices have also gone up and again, not unexpected, but it’s not an unreasonable rise either. It’s now £3.00 during peak and £2.50 (the usual fare) off-peak, with a 50p discount when travelling in a pair, and with the expansion of the service to reach Summertown and Jericho. This has made meeting friends in those parts of the city both reasonably priced and easier to do.

The one constant that hasn’t changed since the service launched in June 2018 is the drivers. Their enthusiasm to provide excellent customer service still shows and I can honestly say is still one of my favourite parts of the service. They know where I’m going most of the time and that’s before they’ve looked it up on their navigation and we often have a natter about the day. As a side to that, the other passengers are what also make the service fun – because it’s not just a ride, it’s sometimes a social event on wheels.

Whilst some things could be improved upon, including a few ambiguous drop off and pick-up points I’ve encountered, even in the last week, if you haven’t given the PMU service a go, I highly recommend it. It still connects the city’s Eastern arc and has certainly made it easier for me to get from some A to B points, without having to change in the city. It’s also still cheaper than a taxi.

The PMU for me isn’t a substitute for the local bus services. Oxford is possibly one of the best cities for frequent bus services outside of London, if you live centrally that is. The PickMeUp service is, however, a nice additional service, one that’s growing in popularity and has grown into its own. I see it from a passenger perspective when I see five or more people get on at one pick up, as well as from what drivers tell me. Having used public transport for all of my life, primarily in Oxford, it’s good to see how technology and innovations like PMU are playing a vital role within the city.

If you’ve never used PickMeUp before, then I highly recommend you give it a try. If you love technology like me, you’ll love the app and as a passenger, you’ll enjoy the social aspect of it, this isn’t a regular city bus, where the driver and other passengers sit in silence, as I’ve said before, a ride on the PMU is sometimes a social event!

And finally, for the record, no one has asked me to write this, it’s not a sponsored post, I’m just a passenger, a regular public transport user, giving you my thoughts and insights. But if you’ve liked what you’ve read, feel free to share and give PMU a try!