Project Black Bus

Black cabs running like buses. In a cabby way.

You may have heard about us running green buses around East London at unreasonably late hours of the night. That’s all well and good but it’s time to announce our top secret Project Black Bus.

Do you wish you could commute in a cab? But at the price of public transport? Lucky you!

We’re partnering with Gett, the UK’s black cab app, to launch a fixed route: BB1 (aka Black Bus 1), running between Highbury and Waterloo.

Cabs can be shared by multiple passengers, just like on a bus, for a fixed price of only £3! (and psst.. the first ride is free). But unlike buses, you can get on and off anywhere on the route.

BB1 operates when you need it most, during busy commute hours (between 7–10am and 5–8pm). And we start next Monday, Sept 25th!


In partnership with Gett Together

You may know about Gett, the app to book black cabs, trusted by black cab drivers and Londoners, and already integrated as a cab option in our app.

Gett Together is their shared cab service, and our partner for BB1.

Picking the route: BB1 (Highbury to Waterloo)

We’ve written previously about Simcity, our smartypants, route creation and evaluation software. It finds gaps in the city’s transport network, based on the mobility needs of city dwellers.

Previously with CM2- Night Rider, we found a gap in the London night network. This time we focused our analysis on the commute hours: the most congested time of the day when public transport networks are stretched to their utmost. Out came BB1!

BB1 connects Highbury to the south, unlike any tube line. Existing trips would require 3 buses or tubes. It serves one of the largest gaps in the tube in zone1: Angel to Farringdon. It uses side streets that avoid jams and benefit from bus lanes- which may be particularly useful since Angel station is currently undergoing construction with major roads blocked.

Integrated with our apps, and the transport network

BB1 will show up in our app when its the best choice for A to B directions.

It’s multimodal ready, ie it will also combine with other modes of public transport such as tubes and trains, to reduce travel times for a wide range of A to Bs across the city.


Why are we doing this?

As you know, we like buses. But what we really like is shared transportation: important for complex, congested cities, and necessary to reduce the price of mobility for everyone. And then we met Gett.

Taxis are existing transport infrastructure in the city. And taxi drivers have great hyperlocal knowledge. But they also have spare capacity (ie multiple free seats) that could be better utilised. The hard part is matching people together. Running fixed routes is one way to solve for this.

And that’s great for congested cities. Especially during commute times when a city is straining to service peak mobility.

For users there is an attractive alternative commute option, one that involves paying a public transport price for a cab experience with a guaranteed seat.

And it’s social! Well, you may not like that, but your friends do.

We like it for another reason. It points to the future of public transport. We can respond quickly to user needs, by editing and evolving the route as we learn. Regular buses can’t do that. The future of the city should be smart, shared and responsive.

Also because buses don’t fly... yet… You gotta do what you can with what you’ve got.

Use our app to find and use the BB1 route, or see it on our website.

Read about the future at Citymapper.com/smartbus