Partners embark on an AI-driven bus strategy to optimise public transport services in Wales using data and machine learning.

Left to right: Marina Donohoe, Director UK and Northern Europe at Enterprise Ireland, Transport for Wales CEO James Price, First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin and CitySwift COO Alan Farrelly

Transport for Wales and CitySwift last week announced that they are working together on a pilot programme to optimise public transport services in Wales, using data and machine learning. The programme aims to deliver efficiencies and improve service levels across the country’s bus network.

“Our partnership with CitySwift will allow Welsh bus operators to use modern AI technology to gather data, understand new travel patterns and make more informed data-driven decisions,” explained Transport for Wales CEO James Price. “This pilot scheme will help us improve bus services for the people of Wales and will assist us in encouraging people to make that modal shift from using private cars to sustainable public transport which is key to tackling climate change.”

The pilot programme with Galway-based data specialists CitySwift was announced during last week’s 36th British-Irish Council Summit in Cardiff. Price and CitySwift COO Alan Farrelly were among those at the event, which was also attended by Irish taoiseach Micheál Martin, Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford, government ministers and business leaders.

The event included an Enterprise Ireland-led session celebrating Ireland’s contribution to Wales’ sustainable recovery and economic wellbeing, with a focus on Irish companies that are making a positive impact on the lives of Welsh citizens. The partnership between Transport for Wales and CitySwift was cited as an example of this.

Drakeford said: “Enhancing our public transport system is a vital part of our work to cut emissions and reduce our impact on climate change. The Welsh Government’s target is for 45% of journeys to be made by sustainable modes by 2040. It is great to see that technology and data is being used to develop efficiencies and growth in this sector.”

The partnership with TfW will demonstrate CitySwift’s ability to deliver effective strategies for transport authorities – as it has already done with major transport operators in the UK, including National Express and Go-Ahead Group.

CitySwift CEO Brian O’Rourke commented: “Transport for Wales is taking a positive step by embracing data and AI in a smart, innovative way to improve journey times, reliability and enhance the on-board experience for passengers.

“As new mobility patterns emerge, due to the pandemic and the need to reduce carbon emissions, there is a lot to learn from big data about changing trends and how best to plan and shape bus services for the future. Our data-driven planning technology will help ensure that Transport for Wales can provide sustainable travel and deliver the highest-quality, safe and reliable journeys for the Welsh public. We hope other public transport authorities follow suit.”

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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