National Express works with CitySwift for COVID-safe bus trips

CitySwift is providing enhanced network planning and route optimisation for National Express West Midlands (NXWM), enabling the operator to deliver COVID-safe journeys through a three-year technology investment with the supplier.

The arrangement represents an extension of NXWM’s existing relationship with big data and machine learning in public transport expert CitySwift. The operator is now building on that successful initial rollout, and it has implemented CitySwift’s data-driven scheduling and planning technology, which uses artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning techniques.

By gaining insights through the CitySwift platform, NXWM can make more informed decisions to match capacity with demand and improve efficiency and reliability. That leads to what CitySwift describes as “a better overall onboard experience for customers while also significantly reducing operating costs.”

CitySwift will enable NXWM to share accurate bus capacity predictions on a stop-by-stop basis. That will “help passengers to make the right journey choices, avoid crowding and feel safer,” says the supplier.

The technology platform combines a “vast array” of big data sources to develop datasets that are unique to each bus network and location. Machine learning models are trained on those datasets to deliver highly accurate predictions of future operating conditions and constraints.

Says NXWM Commercial Director Chris Gibbens: “As an organisation, we plan to be net zero by 2030 and CitySwift plays an important role in helping us to achieve that. By enabling networks to optimise routes, stay on schedule and avoid crowding, CitySwift effectively increases the number of people using our buses as well as providing a safe environment for them.

“The pandemic has meant that we need to restore passenger confidence and ensure that we put the right number of vehicles on the right routes at the right times to get people back on board. CitySwift enables us to do that.”

Adds CitySwift CEO and Co-Founder Brian O’Rourke: “We are really pleased that National Express chose to work with CitySwift. COVID-19 has forced the public transport sector to be at its most agile, which has meant the adoption of new working practices and technologies at a pace never seen before.

“The pandemic has accelerated the need for the sector to go through a digital transformation to understand how passenger demand will change. National Express is at the forefront of that as it uses our technology to ensure vehicle supply matches demand.”