Pilot review: CitySwift's mobility intelligence will drive a better bus experience across Wales

Highlights

  • A holistic view of network data and insights across 5 of the major bus operators in Wales
  • The ability to collate, analyse and report on key performance indicators, generating truly actionable insights
  • Data to support evidence based decision making and planning to optimise investment across bus services
  • Network planning based on detailed passenger demand analysis
  • Revised schedules delivered on sample routes to improve punctuality

Established in 2015, Transport for Wales (TfW) is wholly owned by the Welsh Government, acting as their transport delivery partner, expert adviser and advocate for transport related matters. Collaborating with transport providers, communities, local authorities and other key stakeholders including education and health providers, Transport for Wales aims to deliver customer-focused services to make Wales proud. This is achieved through a safe transport network, with a key focus on sustainability. Five bus operators across Wales were involved with the Transport for Wales and CitySwift pilot to support a passenger-centric bus network, powered by always-on data.

“CitySwift has given the team at Transport for Wales a better holistic understanding of how the network moves. For the first time, we can access detailed punctuality, reliability, and efficiency insights across Wales’ 5 major bus operators. This new intelligence will enable us to work with operators to make the bus a more attractive service for the people of Wales.” - Andrew Sherrington, Head Of Bus Network And Service Development, Transport For Wales

Saving time with daily data analysis across five operators

CitySwift assembled key performance and operational data from each of the five participating operators onto its single, easy-to-access platform – while still keeping operator data segregated and compartmentalised. This is advantageous for all parties. The public sector can easily access operator data without disseminating it more widely, or across other operators, unless they wish to share data which is not operator-specific or commercially sensitive. By engaging directly with the bus operators to acquire, clean, and join their individual data, CitySwift vastly reduced the time, effort, complexity, and level of stakeholder involvement in data collection and processing.

CitySwift’s leading technology, highly skilled team, domain knowledge and existing operator relationships made it possible to complete this complex piece of work in a matter of weeks. This data provides the public sector with the ability to monitor and understand daily bus network performance across Wales – differentiated by time of day, day of week and across the year – and frees up time to focus on what really matters: developing a network that is reliable, responsive and sustainable. 

Understanding today: servicing current passenger needs

The data collected by CitySwift included that from vehicle GPS systems, operational schedules and ticketing systems. CitySwift’s unique ability to combine these data sources meant that the pilot operators and the public sector could get a detailed understanding of journey patterns and service performance. The access to this data allows the public sector and the operators to understand and focus on today’s network , and today’s passengers – not just planning for the future. Displayed through digestible and at-a-glance visualisations, the CitySwift Platform makes it possible to review service performance daily from network-level, right down to individual routes and stops, across all of their KPIs.

Collaborative approach to increasing punctuality and encouraging a modal shift

Without a single, reliable data source for insight into performance across operators, or the ability to analyse data without a time and resource intensive effort, the public sector struggled to visualise what was going on across the network, and how it could be improved.

The pandemic brought this into sharp focus, with the public sector needing to understand, more than ever, the demand for bus services and how this was changing as a result of new working and leisure patterns. Transport for Wales was particularly interested in tracking service recovery rates, identifying what routes were experiencing increasing passenger usage, and which routes were under-used, all of which the CitySwift platform made visible.

In addition, with the core goal of achieving dependable services, the lack of insight into current punctuality levels made it difficult to understand what improvements needed to be made to services, and where. The CitySwift platform will enable the public sector and the bus operators to understand and share detailed punctuality data, and to quickly develop revised schedules on sample routes closely matched to operating conditions, with the aim of achieving punctuality targets.

Passenger-centric network planning

CitySwift’s technology creates a single source of insights for the public sector and the pilot operators that they can all trust, enabling an understanding of:

  • Pandemic recovery rates across the country, on a route by route basis 
  • Where improvements could be made to the bus network
  • How best to match available operating resources with passenger demand
  • Pinch-points in the road system that could benefit from infrastructure improvements to give priority to bus services

Using CitySwift’s demand flows algorithm, which uses stop-to-stop origin-destination matrices, Transport for Wales was able to work with the pilot operators to identify potential improvements to services, based on actual passenger movements and needs.

With everyone looking at the same data for decisions, this one version of the truth helps stakeholders to understand why changes are made. This ultimately makes for a better partnership between the pilot operators and the public sector, who can understand challenges and opportunities together.

Identifying new opportunities for bus priority measures

Using CitySwift’s planning tools, the public sector is now able to track bus operating speeds across the network, and combine this with the detailed understanding of passenger demand to identify where the most passengers are affected by delays.

The CitySwift platform enables the team to gain insight into levels of demand, journey times, speed, and congestion, in order to evaluate the impact that all of these factors have on the passenger experience. Access to this information provides the team with the understanding and data needed to identify where infrastructure changes may be justified, for prioritisation by the public sector. Building these stronger cases for improved services ensures that the network can be made more relevant and attractive to bus users' needs than ever before. 

What's next: building a transport system that delivers faster journeys and attracts new users

Transport for Wales and CitySwift will work together over the coming years to engage and support operators and local authorities to deliver change across bus services in Wales, including: 

  • Improving bus service quality, using metrics relating to the use, reliability, punctuality and operational efficiency of bus services, and tracking and reporting on network performance and the impact of interventions
  • Designing and implementing changes to the bus network using network performance insights to design timetables that are optimised to suit prevailing conditions and available resources
  • Anticipating future need by analysing travel patterns to uncover opportunities to amend existing and develop new bus services
  • Delivering best value through optimising service design based on data, providing insights to match services to demand, and prioritising investment based on passenger numbers

Using CitySwift’s insights, Transport for Wales is analysing a shortlist of geographical areas to understand performance and patronage, in order to advise on how best to optimise services. With high quality insights, Operators can be equipped with the confidence and justification to make the right changes.

Contact us today to learn more about how CitySwift's mobility intelligence is empowering transport across the public sector.