Company Car Today

Ford has been granted permission to begin operating its Chariot minibus commuter service in London.

Chariot, which operates multi-seater Ford Transit vans as commuter buses in areas where public transport system is lacking in the US, is to begin operating in London.

The service works in a similar manner to Uber, in that users are able to reserve and pay for a seat on vehicle travelling on a pre-determined route via smartphone app, among other methods. The vehicles make regular stops, which are also determined in advance, and are said to complement existing public transport systems.

It had applied to operate six routes within the UK capital, four of which have now been approved by Transport for London (TfL), according to the Financial Times.

Battersea, Bexley, Greenwich and Wandsworth were approved, but additional routes in Hammersmith and Southwark were turned down. It is believed that the London services will commence later this year.

Each of the London routes ends close to an underground or train station with the intention of making onward journeys easier. The routes were said to have been selected because they were underserved by the current bus network

Speaking to the Financial Times, a Ford spokesperson said: “Following public consultation on the potential benefits of the service, the Riverside Racer and Southwark Shortcut routes were deemed not to serve the interest of the London public, based on feedback.”

Transport for London said the routes in Hammersmith and Southwark were turned down due to concerns by local residents about where the vehicles could stop and whether or not they would complement existing public transport services.

Chariot launched in the US in 2014 and it currently operates in New York, Austin, Seattle and its home base of San Francisco. Ford bought the company for an estimated £50 million in 2016.