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Katie Collins/CNET

Citymapper Smart Ride is half-taxi, half-bus

The navigation app is launching a new flexible bus service, but says it's not setting itself up as a rival to Uber.

The wheels on the bus are going round to a new generation of flexible public transport, courtesy of Citymapper.

Citymapper has already dipped its toes into public transport with a trial bus service ferrying East London revellers along a single weekend route. The popular navigation app is evolving that idea with Smart Ride, which mixes a bus and taxi service. 

Smart Ride travels a set route and stops along the way, like a bus. But it lets you book a seat, like a taxi.

This isn't the only combination of shared and taxi-style transport in the news today: Uber has just launched Express Pool in select US cities, which asks you to walk a bit further at the start and end of your journey in exchange for a streamlined ride and cheaper fares. But Citymapper denies that it's looking to compete with Uber, saying on Twitter the company has "more imagination" than that.

Citymapper intended to launch the service with actual buses as used on the company's current CM2 Night Rider route. But London transport rules limit the service to eight people per vehicle -- any more and bus regulations require stricter routes and timetables. That goes against Citymapper's plan to dynamically alter routes and timings to meet demand.