The popular mobility platform Bolt has expanded its London ride-hailing service into an additional 17 regions, including Crawley, Southend, Harlow, Bishop’s Stortford, Woking, and Guildford. The move comes just in time for the busy festive period during which the Estonian company expects business in London to increase by 15%.

The launches also come after demand for the ride-hailing service has already increased during the increasingly dark, cold and wet days of October and November. For example, Bolt saw a whopping 30% spike in rides on October 31st.

In addition to the expected increased demand as a result of the festivities, the Tallinn-headquartered firm is also anticipating the offer being popular since many local customers have either opened the app prior to the expansion, or finished their ride in the region having started their journey in the company’s previous London operating area.

Due to the myriad of ways ride-hailing is valuable to passengers during this time of the year – including trips to Christmas parties, airports and train stations – it’s also a busy, fruitful period for drivers. Bolt took the step of launching in these districts to further increase the earning potential and flexibility enjoyed by drivers registered with the Bolt platform. It allows drivers who reside in the expanded operating area to pick up passengers on their commute to or from London.

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The launches also mean rides can start from and finish at more public transport hubs like train and bus stations. They are typically the most popular pick-up and drop-off spots throughout the year, with this only increasing during the holiday season due to travel to friends, family, and local businesses. The aim for Bolt as a company is to accelerate the transition from owned cars to shared mobility, with ride-hailing often playing a crucial role for first- and last-mile travel.

Deborah Meijer, Head of Operations for Bolt in London said: “The run-up to Christmas is a busy time for everyone, including passengers and drivers who use Bolt. Since shared mobility – including ride-hailing – has such a crucial role within the wider transport ecosystem during this time, and drivers registered on the Bolt platform naturally play a significant part in this, we thought it would be beneficial for both sides to expand the area in which they can access our valuable service in London.”

Bolt is launching its ride-hailing service in the following areas: Southend, Gravesend, Woking, Crawley, Tilbury, Basildon, Epping, Redhill, Harlow, Wokingham, Sevenoaks, Stanford-le-Hope, Bishop’s Stortford, Reigate, Guildford, Billericay, and Dorking.

This follows a busy period for Bolt’s operations team in London, having launched the ‘Pet’ category in September and the ability to schedule a ride in advance for all its passengers in October. The former allows one passenger to request to bring two small pets – such as small to medium-sized dogs, cats, and other commonly recognised household pets – into the car. The latter allows passengers to schedule a ride and lock in a price 72 hours in advance.