Bus operator Reading Transport has partnered with Irish technology start-up CitySwifter in a data-based drive to improve passenger demand forecasts and service schedules.
A depot-based system will download, from returning vehicles, data including GPS-derived route progress and ticketing records.
It will compare the results with other information, including historical traffic and weather patterns, to generate more realistic service levels.
CitySwifter co-founder, Brian O’Rourke told Smart Highways: “More intelligent matching of vehicles and drivers with demand can reduce wasted operating costs by 10%’. One driver for the innovation is that operators typically have just three timetables – for weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays.’
However, he continued, ‘passenger demand and journey times constantly change and average speeds constantly fluctuate; the result is that operators over or under supply the market’.
Data collection at Reading is now under way and Mr O’Rourke expects the system to go live in September 2018.
Reading Transport director of resources, Tony Pettitt told Smart Highways: “This is one of six projects running through the Reading Buses’ Tech Lab, launched by buses minister Nusrat Ghani MP earlier in July. Armed with fresh insights we can ensure that high frequency route timetables match future demand, with realistic running times built in to make it easier for drivers to keep to them.”
A further CitySwifter contract with a national operator running 8,500 vehicles, awaits finalisation, while the company is also in negotiations with a third company which runs fleets across Europe. It is targeting operators of high frequency routes in major urban centres.
“We’re doing for buses what low-cost airlines have already done for passenger aviation – ?addressing inefficiencies’, said Mr O’Rourke.
“Urban buses haven’t evolved along with advancements in technology. Current networks are largely outdated, and most operators are not making use of data analytics to optimise them.”