Transdev Blazefield has announced a strategic partnership with app developer Find My Bus

 

findmybusJoel Kidd (left) founder of Find My Bus with Transdev Blazefield’s Alex Hornby

 

It is almost nine years since Apple launched the first generation iPhone, starting a revolution in not only the way people communicate, but work, shop and play too.

It has also powered new options for transport. While the emergence of the smartphone has led to the creation of taxi apps, such as Uber, that increasingly pose a competitive threat to traditional transport operations, they have also streamlined ticketing methods through the appearance of m-ticketing apps. Sophisticated journey planners, such as the well known Citymapper app, have also appeared.

And now it seems transport operators are realising that the traditional lines of what is considered transport are beginning to blur. No longer are transport operators just transport operators; they are part of the bigger mobility picture. Some pioneers in the industry are taking tentative steps towards that transition.

And so earlier this month Yorkshire-based bus operator Transdev Blazefield revealed a strategic partnership to develop a variety of tech solutions with Find My Bus, a Hampshire-based technology industry start-up. It’s a move that the two sides hope will bring the spheres of transport operations and emerging technology together.

Last year Stagecoach chairman Sir Brian Souter warned delegates at the annual ALBUM conference, hosted by bus operator Network Warrington, that transport operators risked being left behind by the threat of new and emerging technologies (PT109). He highlighted how important it is that transport operators stay on top of these issues by investing in new technologies and examining the opportunities offered by them.

Souter pointed to the newly deregulated express coach market in Germany where some of the new entrants have placed a high value on the importance of tech, a very different model to that employed by traditionally-orientated transport businesses.

He noted that one of these German upstarts has “85 people in their head office function and a very high percentage of them are just doing technology”. Meanwhile, as part of its business turnaround, Ryanair now has 200 developers working in a lab outside Dublin purely on technological developments that aim to improve customer service and business efficiency.

It seems that Transdev is keen to embrace his thinking. Alex Hornby, chief executive of the French group’s Harrogate-based Transdev Blazefield business, which is leading the partnership, believes that the collaboration is the first of its kind within the industry and one which will enable it to further improve the overall service for its customers in an evolving sector.

Find My Bus was founded by 19-year old entrepreneur Joel Kidd back in 2013. He started the company after waiting for the bus each day on his way to college and wondering if there was a way to find out where his bus actually was. Surprised that there wasn’t such a system in place, he turned his knowledge and skills towards developing a system that would track his bus, a move that saw the system successfully introduced by the local operator.

Since then he has gone on to help more than 10 bus operators in the UK improve their customer offering through the use of live bus tracking technologies and personalised information on mobile apps. Meanwhile, Kidd has also developed another sideline to his business by creating websites for bus operators that are optimised for viewing via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

“Find My Bus is the kind of company that our industry would do well to embrace,” believes Hornby. “We will only benefit from being challenged by innovative technology experts and we’ve found this in spades with Joel.

“We’re progressing through an era where it is becoming increasingly important to focus on intelligent, personalised customer technologies and communications, and where using mobile apps will help us take advantage of our position in the overall mobility ‘people movement’ market, not just the bus market.”

Hornby says that he sees the partnership with Find My Bus as “as pivotal in the evolution of Transdev Blazefield”. He added: “We’re very excited about the developments that this will allow us to deliver for the thousands who use our services, how it will enable us to reach new passengers, and help to improve customer information, convenience and ticketing.”

Kidd described the partnership with the French-owned bus operator as “one of the most exciting things that’s happened to Find My Bus”. He continued: “It’s been a steady start for Find My Bus as we continue spreading our name in the industry, bringing our range of customer-facing apps to a number of well-known independent bus operators, to whom we remain completely committed.

“This deal with Transdev puts us on course to develop and grow our business further. To be working alongside a forward thinking, innovative company like Transdev is huge. I’m incredibly excited to start working with Alex and his team as we expand Find My Bus, and make even more cutting edge apps for the wider transport and mobility sector.”

 

‘Mobility as a service’ company launches

A new Finnish company launched earlier this month which claims to be the world’s first ‘mobility as a service’ company.

MaaS Finland has raised funding of over Euro 2m in its first call for funding from a range of private and institutional investors, including a 20% stake taken by French transport group Transdev.

The company intends to serve as a bridge between transport service providers, users and third parties. It will combine all the existing transport services into a single mobile application on the ‘single-ticket principle’ and offer personalised transport plans tailored to customer needs.

Founder and chief executive Sampo Hietanen said that MaaS Finland’s goal was to “pull a ‘Finnish Netflix’ in transportation and change the way people use transport services”.

Hietanen stresses that far from trying to destroy any existing businesses, the company seeks to generate more sales for them. The service promise is to deliver better transport services for consumers in mutual collaboration. “If the MaaS ecosystem fails to contribute to the business of all the companies and parties involved, the concept won’t work,” he said.

Originally, MaaS (Mobility as a Service) was one of the transport concepts created by ITS Finland, a consortium of experts developing information and communications-based technology solutions. Now, MaaS has become an independent company focusing on the international market.

A second investment round will be launched in late autumn this year in an attempt to raise additional funding.

 

The full story appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!