Blackpool Transport increases punctuality by 7.7% using CitySwift service optimisations

Highlights

  • Capturing 38% more data on average since implementing CitySwift
  • Improved punctuality by 7.7% for September 2023 schedules
  • Punctuality improved across every hour of the day
  • Passengers spent 9,400+ less minutes waiting on average daily
  • Projected cost savings of £160k from January 2024 schedule change, the biggest schedule change the operator has undertaken in 5 years
  • Data-driven collaboration with local authorities to attract between £250k and £300k Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) investment


For over 100 years, Blackpool Transport have been proudly serving Blackpool, Fleetwood, Thornton Cleveleys, Lytham St Anne’s and Poulton-le-Fylde with friendly and reliable transport. To ensure they’re offering a punctual and reliable service to their passengers Blackpool Transport implemented CitySwift in March 2023, to get the accurate insights they needed on how the network was really performing. 

CitySwift’s platform provides Blackpool with reliable, accurate data that enables them to speed up network performance analysis, deliver new insights, and optimise runtimes to improve service punctuality and reliability for passengers. CitySwift is enabling them to capture 38% more data on average than with their previous technology solution.

"When we first implemented CitySwift, the insights showed us our punctuality was  10% lower than we thought. In other words, we saw an improvement in the accuracy of our data. We believed we were better than we were. That's what CitySwift tells us - the truth.

- James Clough, Commercial & Finance Director, Blackpool Transport Services Limited

Driving a solid return on investment

Blackpool Transport used CitySwift’s performance analysis and runtime optimisation to plan and implement changes to their September schedule, a month that typically has the most challenging operating conditions due to increased passenger volumes and congestion. After the schedule change, CitySwift performance analysis clearly showed the impact these measures had on punctuality improvements.

CitySwift suggested runtimes were robust against September traffic - punctuality improved across every hour of the operating day despite lower average speeds in the network. Punctuality improved by 7.7%, a really important factor cited by Blackpool Transport for increasing driver satisfaction.

This improvement in punctuality resulted in passengers spending 9,400+ less minutes waiting on delayed buses, on average daily. The overwhelmingly positive impact of this schedule change set the operators sights on planning for further changes to their January schedule.

Getting to the truth of network performance, quickly

Prior to implementing CitySwift the team found it difficult to get the data they needed, and even when they got it it wasn’t accurate. With multiple data sources to collate, the team would spend a lot of time producing reports to track punctuality, reliability and passenger demand performance. These reports were clunky to create and hard to understand. On top of that they featured significant data quality discrepancies, due to factors like geofencing and GPS drift. Thanks to CitySwift, the operator now has access to auto-updating, regular reports that track KPIs accurately without any manual input. 

“Pre-CitySwift we couldn't easily download data and compare it, so we’d end up doing manual time trials out on the network. That wasn't very reflective of the true situation because anything can happen on that one journey. What we were missing was a tool that could provide us with accurate information so we could get to the truth of what was happening within the network. CitySwift provides us with the trustworthy data we need to ensure efficient resource allocation and performance.”

- James Clough, Commercial & Finance Director, Blackpool Transport Services Limited

When it came to planning an upcoming service change Blackpool Transport realised they didn't have the data they needed to effectively complete this project. They needed a platform that would enable the team to collect the data, clean it, analyse it and then output recommendations for the new schedule based on previous network performance. And they needed all of this in one solution.

Blackpool Transport’s team benefited from CitySwift’s rapid platform deployment, ensuring that all key data sources were being ingested, gaining fast access to accurate network performance trends and patterns. CitySwift managed the implementation from start to finish in just 2 weeks, including regular check-in calls with their dedicated Customer Success Manager and onsite training for the Commercial team. 

Through CitySwift the operator can now regularly and proactively scrutinise what’s really happening in the network to ensure maximum performance, efficient use of resources, and a great passenger experience. Ultimately this has enabled the network provider to be more dynamic in how they operate, making service changes as quickly and as smoothly as possible. 

All the data needed to make a major service change, in one solution

CitySwift has provided Blackpool Transport with much more than just timing data. It’s proving to be invaluable for Blackpool Transport’s team when collaborating with the local council, ensuring that the resources made available through Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus (BSIP+)are put in the right places across the network. The team now has access to patronage data, provided in a way that’s easy to understand. The operator can quickly drill down into what trips are busy and what trips don't have enough demand - a true view of network performance down to stop level

These invaluable insights are used to inform and show the reasoning behind frequency enhancements or decreases. The team is more confident with this data-driven approach, particularly when it comes to sharing the reasoning behind their decisions with key stakeholders to get buy-in on schedule changes or secure funding.

In August 2023 Blackpool Transport undertook a project to plan and implement their biggest network change in 5 years. Without CitySwift the operator wouldn't have been able to conduct a quick, accurate and comprehensive review of the entire network. CitySwift took managing multiple, dispersed data sources and guesswork on timings out of the equation, enabling the operator to be more confident in the planned changes.

“We're hoping that when we put the new network in that it's right first time round rather than having to constantly change times and disrupt customers. We plan for this to be a long change that we can make minor tweaks and adjustments to as they’re needed using CitySwift.”

- James Clough, Commercial & Finance Director, Blackpool Transport Services Limited

The new network launched in early January 2024, with Blackpool Transport supporting the roll out with street teams and a marketing campaign to give passengers all of the information they need. 

“This is the biggest service change we've made in the last five years. It’s testament to our dedication to enhancing frequency and finding new ways to attract customers, and drive patronage growth.” 

- James Clough, Commercial & Finance Director, Blackpool Transport Services Limited

Completing this schedule change would just not have been possible without  CitySwift. And the impact this project will have on cost savings and investment is significant.

“In terms of the January 2024 network change through using CitySwift, it looks like it's going to give us a 5x return on investment (ROI). And also we're going to be attracting between £250k and £300k in subsidies through the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).”

- James Clough, Commercial & Finance Director, Blackpool Transport Services Limited

What’s next for Blackpool Transport?

Right now the team at Blackpool Transport is focused on stabilising the new network, gathering data, and from there identifying what enhancements can be made. 

"CitySwift has allowed us to target exactly where we need to put our resources to meet our punctuality targets." 

- James Clough, Commercial & Finance Director, Blackpool Transport Services Limited

Based on the success of optimising Blackpool’s bus network, Blackpool Transport extended CitySwift usage to encompass Tramway operations. It is the first time CitySwift’s platform has been used to track, and report on, tram data, delivering a multi-modal offering to the transport industry. 

There’s still a lot more to come from this strategic partnership with the impact of the January 2024 schedule changes yet to be seen, in addition to optimisations to tramway operations. Blackpool Transport is focused on building a robust network that will meet passenger demand for now and into the future.