Case Study: The Go-Ahead Group – When2Travel

The Go-Ahead Group partnered with CitySwift to harness the power of data to support social distancing and reassure bus users.

The Go-Ahead Group is one of the leading UK public transport operator companies. Its purpose is to be the local partner taking care of journeys that enhance the lives and wellbeing of communities across the world.  The Group employs over 30,000 people across its businesses in the UK, Singapore, Norway, Germany and Ireland.

At the height of the coronavirus crisis, there were conversations within Go-Ahead about what the group could do to help manage demand for travel, and how data could be used to help guide its bus operations through the recovery period.

Gateshead-based Go North East had been trialling the CitySwift platform to aid service planning, improve reliability and optimise the use of resources. When Managing Director, Martijn Gilbert asked how CitySwift could help the wider group through this particular challenge, he was impressed by the response:

“What CitySwift have delivered is a more detailed and comprehensive solution than I had perhaps envisaged. I think it could be the most powerful use of big data yet in terms of aiding local bus networks and customer service.That's a bold statement, but we are really excited about it.”

The challenge

As coronavirus lockdown restrictions eased, the Go-Ahead Group needed to find a safe and reassuring way to encourage passengers back onto public transport. They knew they needed a modern solution to new requirements such as social distancing.

With double decker buses that would normally carry 75 people limited to just 37 seats and many bus users saying they would not travel unless they could be sure of their ability to socially distance, the group wanted to accurately predict passengers loads for every bus and share those predictions with its customers.

The solution

The Go-Ahead Group worked with the CitySwift team to develop and deploy a unique technology based on CitySwift’s specialist bus data engine and SwiftConnect API. The solution uses artificial intelligence to predict capacity levels for every bus, for any specific date and time. Information is continually updated based on actual bus loads, helping to provide predictions for the days and weeks ahead, while accounting for influential variables such as the reopening of businesses, leisure facilities, shops and schools.

Results are shared with passengers online, using an easy-to-understand ‘traffic light’ format, to aid their journey planning before they leave home. This information is not just available for the route as a whole, it is offered for each point-to-point within the journey as well. This is essential because the bus boarded near home may well be empty, but what’s going to happen when it approaches the city centre?

The result

Go-Ahead bus users across the UK can visit to check capacity predictions for any bus, at any point on its route, up to two weeks in advance. After selecting their desired stop-to-stop journey, they can see which services are likely to be busy (red) or quiet (green). This helps passengers make the right choices about which bus to catch, at a time when on-board capacity is restricted by the need to maintain social distancing.

By giving passengers the information they need to choose to travel on quieter buses, the Go-Ahead Group is making the most of its available bus capacity; spreading morning and evening demand peaks; and helping to ensure passenger comfort, safety and peace of mind.

Every day, When2Travel helps more than 5,000 bus passengers ensure they get a safe ride home.

CitySwift Case Study - The Gro-Ahead Group