Passenger experience is at the heart of modal shift. Our suppliers have tools to make coach and bus even more compelling

The future success of public transport relies heavily on modal shift, and in order to encourage travellers out of cars and into coaches and buses, the passenger’s experience must be comparable, if not superior.

That means convenience, ease of use, and comfort.

Making the most of tech

At Zeelo, technology improves customer experience by giving passengers control of their journey. The company does this in a number of ways.

The first is through live tracking. Passengers are able to track their vehicle and journey from start to finish using Zeelo’s state-of-the-art app. For schools, parents are able to track their children at all times and rest assured that they are in safe hands. All services are tracked and monitored by Zeelo’s 24/7 live operations team.

Meanwhile, innovative and customisable payment solutions for passengers mean they can book, manage and track their rides through the Zeelo apps and website. “With our flexible booking system, you have the option to buy single, return or travel bundle tickets. All our services have the highest COVID-19 safety measures, including track and trace technology paperless ticketing and deep cleaning,” says Zeelo Head of Marketing Cale Pissarra.

Finallly, Zeelo’s dedicated customer support team is available on the phone and via live chat for both businesses, schools and passengers and parents 24 hours a day to ensure customer peace of mind.

Flowbird: Bus back better

Flowbird, the bus ticketing and payments specialist, has launched a new bus technology package that it says will help operators transform the experience for customers.

The company’s ‘bus back better’ offer ticks all the boxes for contactless payments and capped ticketing set out by the Department for Transport (DfT) in its vision for the future of bus travel.

“Everyone is learning to live in a COVID-19 world and for bus operators this means leveraging technology that makes their customers feel as comfortable as possible on their daily journeys,” says Alistair Aitken, Business Development Executive at Flowbird.

“High on the list of priorities is contactless ticketing and payments, which not only offers easier, safer transactions for passengers but positions bus operators strongly to participate in the enhanced partnerships with local transport authorities that will be so important to the future viability of providers of bus services.”

Alistair Aitken, Flowbird Business Development Executive

The new Flowbird bus market package includes a driver console, contactless cEMV, capped fares capability, Bus Open Data Service compliance and ITSO certification, along with cloud hosted back-office software and a long warranty. In addition, flexible payment terms, low transaction fees and monthly charges make this offer attractive to large and small bus operators.

“Our bus back better offer supports the immediate needs of operators in optimising available government support while at the same time delivering the digital systems specified in enhanced partnerships that will open up new opportunities for bus companies,” adds Alistair.

High on the list of priorities for the DfT’s bus strategy are simpler bus fares with daily price caps; better service integration and ticketing across all transport modes; and contactless payment on all buses. “Besides meeting government requirements, the new solution offers straightforward integration with other applications such as passenger apps and m-ticketing, as well as validators for ‘touch on, touch off’ – perfectly preparing operators for the new era of fare payments and wider mobility systems.

“The package also provides a pathway to Flowbird’s bus-oriented mobility hub – which is available for operators and local transport authorities – opening up new retailing opportunities and on demand service provision as the wider transport sector moves towards greater multi-modal integration. Bus transport will play an even greater role in getting people out of cars onto sustainable transport – and bus operators can be confident that this package will provide them with a reliable solution today and a future-ready platform for tomorrow.”

The new Flowbird bus market package includes a driver console, contactless cEMV, capped fares capability, Bus Open Data Service compliance and ITSO certification

Flowbird is a partner with bus operators in towns and cities around the world, helping them respond to growing consumer demand for frictionless travel that speeds up boarding times and makes it easier, quicker and safer for people to access and use public transport.

For Lothian Buses in Edinburgh, the company provided the enabling technology for Scotland’s first ever ‘tap and cap’ contactless system. At the same time, Flowbird’s back-office architectures are creating flexible, modular and scalable solutions for the management and control of network assets and systems, including ticket retailing infrastructures in France, Northern Ireland, the United States, Finland, Australia and beyond.

By 2030, Ultrafabrics is looking at 100% of its fabric collections being sustainable

Ultrafabrics: The tactile experience

Once technology has attracted passengers onto shared transport, the interior specification should make sure they don’t want to alight. European Sales Director at Ultrafabrics Richard Field emphasises that quality textiles are hugely important to passenger experience. Not just from a visual and comfort aspect, but increasingly textiles play a role in vehicle hygiene and sustainability.

Catering to the coach and luxury minibus market, Ultrafabrics supplies a range of durable, lightweight synthetic fabrics; over 500 colours in 42 different collections from stock. Made from polycarbonate polyurethane, Ultrafabrics’ proprietary Takumi technology (a unique way of manufacturing fabric with resin, not glue, to avoid delamination) contains a microfoam layer, allowing for moisture transfer, providing insulation in cold conditions, and drawing away heat in warm conditions.

The fabrics are easily cleaned according to Richard. Ultrafabrics supplies its materials to the medical market, and for 50 years its fabrics have sustained alcohol solutions, up to 20% bleach solutions, and harsh disinfectants. “In the current climate, people are very much aware of sanitisation. Our fabrics can withstand some very harsh disinfectants without any effect on the colour or the physical performance of the fabrics.”

Sustainability is also at the heart of Ultrafabrics, and yet another compelling reason why passengers should be drawn towards coaches. One of the supplier’s collections, Volar Bio, uses bio resin rather than mineral oil resin, and so constitutes 29% bio content, manufactured from waste corn oil. “In addition, we are continuing the development of bio products and using recycled products as well within fabrics,” Richard adds. “By 2025, 50% of our collections will be sustainable. By 2030, we are looking at 100% of the collection being sustainable.”