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4/19/2021 - HITRANS, CivTech, West Coast Motors and The Routing Company Launch Covid-19 Vaccination Transport Service

Tech-powered partnership connects Argyll and Bute community to local Covid-19 vaccination centres

New technology is making it easier for members of the public across Argyll and Bute to attend Covid-19 vaccination appointments.

West Coast Motors, in partnership with HITRANS and The Routing Company, have today (Monday) launched an on-demand, app-enabled transport service that offers safe, door-to-door travel for those journeys not served by bus including attending Covid-19 vaccination appointments at several centres across Argyll & Bute. The service has been made possible through HITRANS Challenge Sponsorship in the Scottish Government’s CivTech 5.0 Programme.

The service, operated by West Coast Motors and powered by The Routing Company, will be available between 8:30am and 5:30pm Monday-Friday. Transport can be summoned using The Routing Company’s Pingo app or by calling the Pingo help desk on?0141 370 9262.?Journeys will cost £2 but are free for card concession holders.

Ranald Robertson, Partnership Director of HITRANS, said: “HITRANS is working with The Routing Company to explore ways to assist with route planning and vehicle deployment across the Highlands and Islands. We are delighted to launch this service with West Coast Motors to provide safe travel for members of the public to reach vaccination appointments alongside trips currently not served by public services.”

The trial partnership will leverage The Routing Company’s proprietary technology -- developed over 5 years of cutting-edge university research -- to deliver safe, convenient, and reliable door-to-door transport to members of the local community. The technology powers an easy-to-use Pingo app, which is available for download in the App Store (iOS) and in Google Play (Android).

Colin Craig, Managing Director of West Coast Motors, said: “By using this technology, we can improve the use of existing vehicle fleets, which will help reduce costs, widen coverage, and better understand interactions between different transport services. In addition, the trial could be expanded to accommodate winter flu vaccination appointments to ensure safe and efficient transport to the public to these vital services.”

In Summer 2020, HITRANS launched the challenge ‘how can we use technology to create a smart and sustainable travel network in remote and rural areas?’ The challenge was set to support transport planners and providers across the region so they can make smarter travel planning decisions, create cost efficiencies, and improve fleet utilisation based on data.

Jayne Golding, Projects and Policy Officer at HITRANS, said: “Working with CivTech has been a fantastic experience and has allowed us to connect with companies such as The Routing Company to provide a solution we hope can support transport planning across the region.” 

Spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL), The Routing Company partners with mobility providers to improve the reach, efficiency and sustainability of public transit. Its proprietary technology – inspired by a 2017 MIT study featured in the BBC – powers an easy-to-use platform that helps cities and other transit providers solve the problem of how to deliver reliable demand-responsive transit sustainably and at scale.

As part of the partnership, The Routing Company will deliver a custom-built Dashboard that will help HITRANS and West Coast Motors develop a better, data-rich understanding of how people and goods move within the Highlands and Islands. The trial is the first in what is expected to be a broader, longer term partnership between The Routing Company and HITRANS focused on serving the transport needs of communities across the Highlands and Islands.

James Cox, CEO of The Routing Company, said: “We are thrilled that our technology and partnership with HITRANS and West Coast Motors will help make it easier for members of the public to access life-saving vaccines. We look forward to building on this partnership in the weeks and months to come.”

Mr Robertson concluded: “We are delighted that the first use of this solution is supporting members of the public to travel safely to their vaccination appointments, and we look forward to rolling out the driver app and data dashboard across other areas in the Highlands & Islands over the coming months.”


The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) is the statutory Regional Transport Partnership covering most of the Highlands and Islands (Highland, Moray, Orkney, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and parts of Argyll and Bute). HITRANS works in partnership with these five partner Councils, the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland, and other stakeholders to improve transport services and infrastructure in the north of Scotland and on routes to the Highlands and Islands.

About West Coast Motors
West Coast Motors is a family business and owns and operates a network of bus, coach and open top tours throughout Scotland and the north of England. It is the main bus operator in the Argyll and Bute area.

About The Routing Company
The Routing Company is an on-demand vehicle routing and management platform that partners with cities to power the future of public transit. Made up of MIT researchers and rideshare industry leaders, TRC builds smart, sustainable transit solutions designed to be more reliable and accessible than other mobility options. It's core technology, developed over five years of MIT research, has been featured in The Verge, BBC, and hailed by CNN as a “striking example of the potential around ridesharing.”

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