First Bus joins forces with AI firm in bid to futureproof the bus industry
First Bus, the bus division of transport company FirstGroup, has announced a groundbreaking partnership with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology firm to revolutionise services for its customers following a successful rollout in West Yorkshire and the West of England.
The new three-year partnership is with Prospective.io, an AI company whose software can automatically generate optimal timetables, schedules and real time fleet instructions.
The new deal represents an investment of at least £4.5m in the state-of-the-art AI technology with the intention of transforming First Bus’ customer offering and encourage even more people to travel by bus.
First Bus, which is one of the largest bus operators in the UK, will use Prospective’s software to continue building on its commitment to enhance customer experience, by improving punctuality and efficiency of services across the UK.
The integration of this software will enable First Bus to improve the reliability of timetables and shift patterns, using AI to predict traffic conditions and peak running times to help ensure services run on time. It will also allow full timetables to be created or adjusted and buses to be scheduled in minutes – a process that would typically take days to complete.
It means local teams can be more agile with frequent, subtle changes to ensure timetables remain accurate throughout the year – all of which will assist First Bus in its mission to improve its overall customer experience.
Following the successful trials in a number of cities across the country, First Bus has achieved a significant enhancement in service reliability while simultaneously reducing fleet operating costs and emissions through efficiencies.
Passengers have experienced improved service quality with the punctuality of services on trial routes having jumped over 20% in many cases.
Additionally, Prospective’s software can be used to identify where bus priority interventions such as parking enforcement and restrictions, bus lanes, bus gates, priority signals and traffic removal would have the biggest impact on travel times.
This can help local authorities prioritise where to target investments in the network to increase service punctuality and usage.
Simon Pearson, Chief Commercial Officer for First Bus, said: “We’re excited to roll out Prospective’s network planning and scheduling software across our UK bus operations and know that it will benefit both customers and colleagues alike.
“We are always working hard to bring our customers the best possible experience, ensuring that our buses are as efficient and punctual as possible.
“We’re not only looking to drive improvements for our existing customers, but to make bus an affordable, more reliable and attractive part of everyone’s everyday transport mix.
“The results we’ve achieved in West Yorkshire and the West of England have been incredible in such a short space of time, but we’re only scratching the surface of its potential. We’re excited to roll out this software and see the benefits it brings to our customers.”
Pete Ferguson, CEO of Prospective, said: “We’re delighted to be rolling out our platform across First Bus’ UK operations. The FlowOS platform will support the delivery of more reliable and convenient public transport services and help grow public transport usage in the UK.
“First Bus has been central to the development of Prospective's AI software for the public transport market – supporting us throughout the development, testing and refinement of software for bus service planning."
“We’re grateful for First Bus’ support, creativity and commitment to improving public transport across the UK and are proud of our growing partnership.”
Notes to editors
First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to roll out ‘London style’ Tap On, Tap Off payment systems across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators. Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art zero tailpipe emission buses across our networks.
We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience. We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland. First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.
For more information on First Bus: First Bus UK News