Birmingham to Oxford

I always used to get this trip and back but it seems you’ve got rid of it??

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Hi @mollyj,

Thanks for taking part in the community and your question. We were operating this journey at a loss to learn about demand levels, price points and popularity.

Unfortunately demand isn’t at a level to run this connection sustainably, so we’ve had to suspend the trips.

We’ve learnt a lot from it, and once we have more cities connecting to Birmingham and our cost per passenger acquisition is down, we will reintroduce it :relaxed:

Thanks again for being a loyal passenger to Snap, and sorry to let you down.

Only reason I used snap, was different to other companies actually looked after there passengers but now getting rid of a trip between two main cities is disappointing

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I understand that this was being run at a loss and that’s unfortunate, but to completely stop any travel from Birmingham without any warning to passengers who use this trip regularly is incredibly inconsiderate to loyal passengers. I had been recommending this service to friends of mine who lived in London and Bristol, but I’m not sure I would continue doing so…
I’m very disappointed in you guys.

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This is indeed very disappointing. There’s a huge market for an affordable Birmingham-Oxford bus. If properly advertised, Snap would surely be more successful than the much longer, more expensive National Express buses between the two cities (which are always packed). As a loyal customer, I also feel let down by the abrupt removal of this route, and also feel less able to recommend your service to friends and family (which I have been doing so far).

I wholeheartedly agree with this, I just went on snap to try and book a trip from Oxford to Birmingham. I relied on this service to commute from my place in Oxford to university.
As others have already mentioned, I’m incredibly disappointed that as a loyal customer who has made 6 trips/week (3returns), I wasn’t even announced in an e-mail. Snap has been one of the best companies I have ever experienced and it really saddens me to see such bad decisions being made.
Yes, the buses were empty most of the time, but you absolutely can’t blame that by saying the demand is low. I study business and I would hope I know a thing or two about marketing. I can see so many people FREQUENTLY using the national express service from Oxford to Birmingham. If there is no demand for this route how do you explain the fact that so many people book it with national express? If marketing was done right, I’m absolutely sure that nobody would want to pay MORE for WORSE services, it’s just basic common sense.
I became a loyal customer when I first heard of the service at freshers week. Through me, you already had one person who was FREQUENTLY buying tickets since day one. The only other challenge was to reach those commuters that were using national express.
People will book and search for these trips with national express because it’s incorporated in the trainline app (which makes it easier for people to find). Snap doesn’t have that, but what it does have is better prices, better service, better drivers, complimentary water bottles, etc.

I used this route once for a different day out and yes not many passengers on the coach.
It is worth mentioning that the Oxford Bus Company who operated this route for Snap also ran their own service between Burmingham and Oxford which they withdrew due to poor patronage a few years ago.

Thank you everyone for your contributions and joining the discussion, really useful and valid points put forward.

You’re completely right, I sincerely apologise on behalf of Snap for not giving more notice and letting you know in good time that we were going to suspend the regularity of the service. Snap’s model is based around having no fixed timetable - services that do have a fixed timetable get tax breaks, but at the same time need to adhere to all kinds of rules that stop them from being flexible.

The nature of the partnership we had with the operator that provided the service meant whilst we were building up demand for the service, they were running at predictable times which passengers like yourselves came to be used to. It’s an oversight on our part that we didn’t let you know that they would be suspended. In future we will consider this much more carefully and let passengers know in good time.

We invested a considerable sum in marketing via online, including google and facebook, but I think you make a great point about capturing passengers from the likes of NX and Megabus - we’ve been reluctant to target the passengers directly (for risk of starting an aggressive price war, or a direct response) but it could be something worth pursuing more in future…

Thanks again for all your input, and we hope to have a sustainable and more popular service in place before long.

I would like to know how you were running at a loss when the system works off if there is no demand, the trip doesn’t run.

If you worked on that basis, the trip won’t run until it makes enough to cover it’s costs therefore the operator wouldn’t be paid for a trip which didn’t run…

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When we first launched Snap we experimented with running coaches purely based on demand, allowing a trip to go anywhere to anywhere, so long as enough people joined the trip. We used a ‘Still Building’ format where a trip would only run once enough people signed up. If not enough signed up, they would get a let down email 3 days before the trip. We discovered very quickly that:

  • Travellers want certainty - if passengers need to get somewhere, they want to know that they’ll get there. If a trip gets cancelled, they’re left with an expensive alternative as journey prices get more expensive close to the trip.
  • Visitors to the site, if they saw there weren’t any trips available that suited them, wouldn’t come back.
  • People had very different, but very specific trip requirements, so do ‘group’ passengers demand together with limited users on the platform was near impossible.

To get more users on the platform, we added on seed trips - trips from our data that would see the highest demand. When these trips were looking to fill, we would add more coaches on using our algorithms to select the next best times.

As you can appreciate, to give passengers some certainty, we had to take some risk with whether they would fill or not.

On the operator side, if we get a coach and driver booked to run a snap trip, then cancel, that operator would lose out on the chance to use those resources for other activities. We would very quickly not have many coach operators wanted to do Snap trips if there was no certainty!

Demand has grown steadily for the Oxford Birmingham services, but not at a rate we were hoping for - so we’ve redistributed these resources to areas we think we can get better results.

The vision is to serve all areas of places with an exceptional quality of service, coming from the best operators at fair prices.

I hope that makes things a bit clearer.