With bus passenger journeys falling by ten percent in the last decade, can new generation apps halt Britain’s declining use of this stalwart of the public transport network?
Recent figures released by the Department for Transport show that bus use has fallen to its lowest level since the beginning of 2006. Rising fares and cuts to services mean less of us are taking the bus to get about and dwindling local authority budgets to subsidise services have left many areas without public transport.
Bus operators are having to respond quickly to the rapid advances in technology which are driving ever-increasing customer expectations. In a short period of time, the way we use buses has been completely transformed.
The bus revolution
The notion of standing in the cold awaiting forlornly for a bus which may never arrive has become a thing of the past thanks to tracking apps. And clutching the correct coins for fear of a driver tutting at having to give change is no longer an issue with the adoption of mobile ticketing options.
Suddenly from being a public service run essentially around the needs of local councils and bus firms themselves, this oldest mode of transport must refocus its efforts on utilising technology to best meet the needs of customers.
The next generation of real-time apps can give bus companies back their competitive edge in the public transport market and stay one step ahead of alternative options. And with cuts to local government transport departments, it will be up to operators to deliver innovative solutions.
The next generation of travel platform
It will increasingly make sense for public transport companies to invest in travel planning platforms rather than just their own apps.
There is a growing push to harness advances in connectivity to integrate local transport systems. This will increasingly mean that travellers can access road, rail, tramway and other systems from one smartphone platform which enables them to plan journeys in the most efficient way with simple payment options.
Of course, innovation requires investment and at a time when operators are feeling the squeeze from government austerity measures and declining passenger numbers, there are significant barriers still to overcome in delivering modern transport solutions.