Digital infrastructureTech to ‘revolutionise’ rural bus services

Tech to 'revolutionise' rural bus services

The government has announced funding for a new digital platform that can provide location information and notify passengers about bus arrivals

Buses Minister Nusrat Ghani has announced £4 million for a new digital platform that will provide live location information about services and timings.

In a bid to increase usage bus services across England, the new digital platform is the first step in cutting the barriers to introducing mobility-as-a-service, one-stop-ticketing products and applications. This will give greater certainty to passengers about when their bus will arrive.

Ghani said: “People expect to turn up to a bus stop knowing when their next service will arrive, particularly in rural areas. We’re investing in systems to make it easier for people to find out where their bus is, how much it will cost and how long it will take. This will save the time people waste waiting, give more people certainty over services and help increase passenger numbers.”

Revolutionising bus travel

The new digital platform enables app developers to use information from GPS trackers. GPS trackers are already fitted to 97% of buses. Such service is already available in some major cities. People in other areas across the country, including rural and remote areas, will be able to plan journeys more easily.

On-demand bus travel is already available in Liverpool, run by ArrivaClick. Routes are not fixed but are determined by where passengers want to go within a corridor. Six luxury 15-seat buses in Liverpool take people in an area between the city centre and John Lennon Airport. These services are driven by high-quality data and computer-based algorithms.

Research shows that one of the barriers to young people using buses is not having information readily available on their phones. However, with fares and times at their fingertips, this app will cut the uncertainty out of bus travel.

Technology can make journeys better

The funding for the new digital platform announced by the Buses Minister builds on the recently published Future of mobility urban strategy, which looks at how people will use transport in the future and how new technology can make journeys better.

The government is also investing in ways to speed up bus journeys. As part of the first tranche of the £2.5 billion Transforming Cities Fund, Derby and Nottingham, the North East, Portsmouth, and Southampton will see the deployment of bus priority traffic lights to speed up trips to the city centres. This will help unlock productivity and help the economies in these areas to thrive.

The bus open data regulations are being implemented as part of the Bus Services Act. The implementation of the act gives local authorities additional powers to partner with bus operators. This will help in shaping services to deliver improvements to passengers.

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