National Express West Midlands introduces capacity checker

National Express West Midlands (NXWM) has launched a new information service for passengers that shows bus capacity predictions up to two weeks in advance.

The data predictions will allow users to choose the best time to travel and avoid overcrowded vehicles.

The bus capacity checker is powered by the CitySwift bus data engine, which uses artificial intelligence to predict levels for specific dates and times. The information is updated based on actual bus loads, and shared with users through a ‘traffic light’ format to encourage social distancing and spread demand peaks.

Deputy Commercial Director at NXWM Andy Foster believes presenting information on bus loadings will offer reassurance to passengers. “The main driver was trying to avoid the problem of a bus becoming too full… that’s going to be particularly important as we head towards September and school and colleges return and more people go back to work.”

CitySwift co-founder and CEO Brian O’Rourke adds: “With COVID-19 we’ve come to learn just how important data is. This has been even more evident for public transport companies as they monitor the effects of lockdown restrictions on their bus networks. We’re delighted to have helped National Express West Midlands make informed, data-driven decisions as it navigates the road to recovery in these ever-changing times.”

NXWM has recently worked with CitySwift on the deployment of a network analysis platform and timetable optimisation technology. Mr Foster sees the potential for big data in forecast potential: “It’s really exciting. We’ve always used data to quite a degree, but big data is bringing in a greater element of forecast potential – looking at factors that are likely to influence demand, such as the weather, one-off events and so on,” he says.