Innovative Real Time Information

Fully automated real time software 'as a service'

The Challenge

Real time passenger information is common in large metropolitan centres. Many people actively support such large services on a day to day basis.

An approach where the operator manages the system is not suitable for a smaller urban centre. Neither the bus operator nor the responsible transport agency has staff always available to perform the required tasks, particularly when issues arise.

Is my bus coming? Has my bus gone? These are the two most asked questions of passengers of smaller, less frequent bus services. Passengers want a real time service, no matter the size of the town or city they live in. Moreover, the more infrequent the service the more critical it is for passengers to have real time information.

TrackABus can help

TrackABus has redesigned how a real time system can be delivered so that it works for the operators and providers of smaller urban transport services.

Removing the need for daily ‘trip assignments’ or integration with a ticketing machine solution the TrackABus service operates without any need for manual intervention. Taking this approach means a real time service can be implemented without additional workload on behalf of the bus operator or transit agency.

See how a TrackABus service could work in your region

How we help passengers

Bus services in smaller cities and towns often have many practical constraints on their design and operation. Smaller streets can limit where vehicles can drive. Limited funding often means service coverage doesn’t reach exactly where a passenger wants to get on. Knowing where ‘my’ bus and ‘other’ buses are can help passengers make informed travel decisions whilst also avoiding the dreaded ‘my bus has gone’ problem – with the next bus 30 minutes or more away.

A TrackABus service helps by:

  • Being affordable for agencies to implement, both in terms of up front and ongoing costs
  • Providing a simple web interface that allows the entire network to be examined, instead of only providing a ‘Plan my Journey’ interface
  • Providing a location aware mobile web interface for those that don’t want to use a transit app or those with vision impairments
  • Allowing real time maps and other information to be embedded in other locations, allowing agencies to easily create valuable transport micro-sites
  • Providing affordable signage solutions for agencies for use at key stops or on bus
  • Providing a SIRI real time API that can and has been integrated with 3rd party transit apps and 3rd party signage

How we help operators

Metropolitan bus services often require thousands of vehicles to deliver the required frequency of services. Operations teams often need to adjust to passenger demand in real time, adding buses to the network and adjusting to events on an hourly basis. Existing real time systems are built to handle these very complex operating problems.

The complexity of existing real time systems means that they are not suitable for use in a smaller town or city. As an example in a small, 10 bus service, what happens when a bus breaks down? Does the operator quickly assign a new vehicle in the real time system and put up a service alert? No – he jumps in a spare bus and picks up the stranded passengers as soon as he can.

A TrackABus service helps by:

  • Automating the trip assignment process so that no manual assignments, either by driver login or daily configuration, are required
  • Reducing stress on staff by allowing passengers to have better information about the service
  • Providing a simple interface to allow staff to answer passenger queries
  • Simplifying the review of service delivery by linking vehicle data to the defined service schedule
  • Enabling a shared view of the service operation which, in our experience, leads to a better working relationship with the transit agency

How we help agencies

Typically a ‘small’ real time service is one that covers an urban centre such as Tampa in Florida USA, a city with a population of almost 400,000 people in 2018. Such a service would be provided by hundreds of buses, possibly from several operators, running thousands of trips daily.

A town such as Invercargill in New Zealand has a 4 route service delivered by 8 buses running 64 trips daily. Although Invercargill’s passengers want an accurate and fully functional real time service, the operational scale and requirements of the system have to be fit for purpose.

A TrackABus service helps by:

  • Providing both the bus operator and city council a simplified solution that is practical to commission and maintain
  • Allowing contractual performance measures to be assessed with recorded data
  • Developing the capability to use recorded data for service planning tasks
  • Enabling a shared view of the service operation which, in our experience, leads to a better working relationship with the bus operator
  • Improving the perceived passenger satisfaction with the overall service

The TrackABus Invercargill service was an early implementation of our real time solution.