Oxfordshire County Council use CitySwift to monitor 10% bus productivity target

Oxfordshire County Council was awarded £32.8 million funding by the Department for Transport in March 2022 to support a zero carbon transport network in Oxford City’s ‘SmartZone’. 

As part of the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, Oxford city bus operators - Stagecoach Oxfordshire and Oxford Bus Company - and Oxfordshire County Council also committed significant capital investment in a fleet of 159 state of the art electric buses and charging infrastructure. 

Closely monitoring the impact of congestion easing measures, including a parking levy, new traffic filters and a wider zero emission zone, plays a crucial role in achieving a return on this investment by improving ‘bus productivity’ by 10%

“The new bus journey time measures will be implemented by autumn 2024. From there we’ll use CitySwift to continuously monitor performance against 2019 so we can track our progress to the 10% goal.”

- Martin Kraftl, Senior Transport Planner, Oxfordshire County Council

Embracing innovation through accurate, reliable data

CitySwift enables all stakeholders to monitor the impact of supporting measures on bus productivity to ensure a solid return on this green investment. Specifically, CitySwift’s platform provides data analytics and visualisations of: 

  • Journey times  
  • Bus average speeds 
  • Network pinch points
  • Service punctuality 
  • Passenger delay minutes
“The main focus for us is the journey times. But, we’ll also be using the system to look at bus boardings, passenger numbers and other key information. I think we’ve probably only scratched the surface really in terms of the functionality available to us. Once we start getting into the evaluation for the bigger SmartZone area, I think we'll be reporting against a few different metrics.”

- Martin Kraftl, Senior Transport Planner, Oxfordshire County Council

The primary intervention for the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan to achieve the 10% improvement is the traffic filters scheme. Located on key routes across Oxford, these will improve bus services and journey times, reduce walking and cycling accidents and improve air quality across the city.

Single source of truth for data-driven decision making

Both the council and operators needed an independent, objective data source they could trust, making it possible to transparently monitor bus journey times and optimise the performance of the bus network.  

Breaking down data silos could only be achieved by both the authority and operators having access to accurate, reliable data to assess progress towards the enhanced partnership commitments of reducing bus journey times by 10%. 

“Keeping everything out in the open has been important in terms of setting up a method for measuring bus journey times that everybody is comfortable with. There's quite a lot at stake in terms of bus company investments in new vehicles and other initiatives so we needed something that we could all put our trust in.”

- Martin Kraftl, Senior Transport Planner, Oxfordshire County Council

CitySwift is the council and operators trusted partner to clean, combine and visualise network performance data. The platform has levelled up Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford Bus Company, and Stagecoach Oxfordshire’s data analytics capabilities enabling them to quickly gather and analyse insights into network trends and patterns

Having up to date network information gives the council access to the data in a way that they’ve never had before. Previously, this would have been gathered manually through email requests to the operators and the council weren’t always sure they were asking for the right information.

“We’d be sending off emails and asking the operators to put reports together, having to know exactly what information we needed. It was really time consuming for both us and the operators. Whereas now we have the data so easily accessible through the dashboard. It’s a big plus in terms of being able to evaluate quickly, and being able to do the analysis that is most helpful to us. We can interrogate the data in the ways that we want to.”

- Martin Kraftl, Senior Transport Planner, Oxfordshire County Council

As they know the data is as accurate as it can be, collaboration between the council and operators is more effective and efficient. Instead of wasting time questioning the reliability of the data, they’re focused on how they make the impact they need.

“We’re not getting into discussions about whether the data is right or wrong, or was it collected in the right way. We've got a common agreement that is the data source that we're all using. And that means we can focus on discussing the important, material issues about whether things are working or not working knowing that we can fully trust the data.”

- Martin Kraftl, Senior Transport Planner, Oxfordshire County Council

Proactively tracking return on investment

CitySwift is the key source of data for monitoring and evaluating bus outcomes. While the impact of measures on factors like air quality and safety will be measured outside of CitySwift.

Quickly evaluating changes is a big part of the drive to ensure the council and operators are making the right changes in the right places. One example of this in action is the introduction of a new bus lane in St. Clements, East Oxford. CitySwift’s platform is used to monitor the impact of this intervention on bus journey times

As the data is so current, up to the day before, the council can quickly evaluate new schemes, and identify what changes, if any, should be made. 

“Now when we’re looking at the effect of schemes, for example the new bus lane project, we can go in and perform detailed analysis of the data ourselves in the knowledge that we can corroborate our analysis with the operators and look at it from their side. Most importantly, we're all looking at the same system and the same data.”

- Martin Kraftl, Senior Transport Planner, Oxfordshire County Council

When the measures are fully implemented in autumn 2024, the council and operators will use CitySwift to actively track progress to their 10% goal. 

“The business case for the investment is based on achieving a 10% saving in terms of bus productivity. CitySwift provides us with the robust monitoring we need to demonstrate our progress towards this target to all stakeholders. We're measuring 2019 as the base year and we'll be comparing and combining data across all services operating in the SmartZone on a rolling basis, once the journey time measures come in.”

- Martin Kraftl, Senior Transport Planner, Oxfordshire County Council