Tech will assist the bus operator in planning for and reacting to ‘new normal’

Andy Foster, NXWM’s deputy commercial director has been working from home during lockdown

National Express West Midlands has announced the successful deployment of CitySwift’s SwiftMetrics bus network analysis platform across its entire network.

The move aims to help the operator to enhance service performance and understand changes in demand as coronavirus restrictions ease.

Powered by the CitySwift bus data engine, SwiftMetrics augments and seamlessly integrates with existing bus technology systems to instantly visualise and automatically report detailed reliability, efficiency and demand metrics – enabling informed decision-making for network development and growth.

Prior to COVID-19, CitySwift worked with NXIS – National Express’ global transport accelerator hub – on a pilot project that saw reliability increase by 3% with no change to frequency. Late departures were reduced by 45% and – whilst peak vehicle requirement was unchanged – fewer operational hours were required.

NXWM believes the importance of the technology while COVID-19 restrictions ease is immense, and it will assist the bus operator in planning for and reacting to the ‘new normal’.

In the 10 weeks since lockdown began, National Express West Midlands has completed six full reschedules of its network. Discussing the scale of the project, Andy Foster, NXWM’s deputy commercial director, said: “It soon became apparent that the amount of data we were looking at – loadings on over 12,000 journeys each day – was going to be difficult using our existing systems – and require additional staff to do properly.

The bus industry is going to have to be very nimble in the immediate future

“We therefore decided to roll out SwiftMetrics across our entire network, to help network planners and schedulers respond more quickly to changes in demand and ensure that, with social distancing reducing vehicle capacity, we could avoid leaving people behind at bus stops as much as possible.”

NXWM now has an immediate picture of what is happening across its network, on over 900,000 weekly passenger journeys. The future viability of the network will be guided by CitySwift’s specialist bus data engine and products such as SwiftMetrics and SwiftSchedule – which enabled the bus operator to complete analysis of running times in hours, rather than days or weeks.

Foster added: “The bus industry is going to have to be very nimble in the immediate future. There will be lots more schedule changes coming up, with very uncertain and quickly-changing passenger demand. CitySwift’s products will help us optimise our network for the short-, medium- and long-term, so we can deliver the best and safest possible service for our customers.”

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