Skills Group works with TransMach to deliver safer travel for children

TransMach Skills Group

Nottinghamshire operator Skills Group has worked with TransMach to develop a bespoke smartphone travel app to enhance the safety of school children travelling on its vehicles.

When boarding, children now validate their journeys through TransMach’s TM920 ticketing machine. A notification is then sent to the parent or carer’s smartphone to confirm the child has boarded. It also provides an estimated time of arrival.

The child validates the ticket with a smartphone or a smartcard. There is an online booking portal for parents and carers which allows users to book single tickets ad-hoc, a carnet package of up to 10 trips, or a term’s worth of school bus travel. An automatic payment facility means bookings are not interrupted. There is also a seat management function to prevent over-booking.

“Our focus was on providing an easy to book, safe service, whereby a parent can monitor when a pupil has boarded and where the vehicle is, so providing a transparent experience,” says Rupert Skill, Group Contracts and Private Hire Manager for Skills Group. “Our back-office system offers live data for schools to monitor loadings and live registers so they know who is on the service and when.”

The delivery comes after four months of development and is being rolled out across Skills Group’s 30 vehicles on educational private hire routes in Nottinghamshire. Each one is fitted with the TM920 contactless handheld ticketing machine.

“TransMach has been very proud to work with such a long established and respected operator as Skills Group,” says TransMach Director Minesh Vandra. “Ensuring the safety of children using bus services is of paramount importance and we are now able to provide reassurance to parents and carers through our specially designed travel app. The added benefit of contactless ticketing adds a further layer of protection as operators continue to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19.

“As well as playing our part to support public health, TransMach’s mission is to make coach and bus travel more cost-efficient for our customers, by removing the administrative burden associated with manual ticketing machines. We believe that almost 90% of smaller, regional operators are still using outdated equipment, so our focus in 2022 will be to support these operators in the transition to a fully contactless, all-in-one solution.”

Mr Skill says TransMach “stuck out” as a company willing to support the company’s ambition to improve the service offering. “At no point from pitching our ideas, into developing and eventually to launch, were any questions or requests left unanswered or not achieved,” he says. “At times, we even tried to find nuisances to the service, to see if it would phase the team at TransMach but to this day we failed in such endeavours.

“As a result, we have been able to launch a fully adaptable booking system with a complementary client application, which has been delivered without a hitch. This has received praise from our clients and most importantly from the parents who use the service. We would highly recommend the team at TransMach and look forward to continuing to do business with them.”