CitySwift

A 'secret sauce' to transform the bus industry

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A 'secret sauce' to transform the bus industry

I've been involved in running high frequency urban bus services in major cities for over 30 years.

Back in 1987, I was operating a network of five-minute frequency urban minibus services in Greater Manchester for a disruptive startup – they existed without the technology in those days!

We thought we were sophisticated because we had pioneered computer-based scheduling, but we also knew we weren’t anywhere near as efficient as we should be. We knew that running a consistent five-minute frequency on each route, every day, on the same static timetable meant we had an awful lot of wasted capacity... The same running times on a quiet Tuesday in February and a busy Friday in early December. The same fleet deployment every weekday when we knew we should be able to nudge frequency back to six minutes and save buses and drivers on certain days.

But we never actually did anything about it. We hadn’t the volume of data to identify precisely where the waste was, nor the computing power to rework timetables and schedules on a bespoke daily basis.

I carried that ‘dream’ around in my head for the next 30 years until, one morning in early 2017, I met two young Irish guys in a hotel at Birmingham Airport and realised my dream could now become reality. Brian and Alan's deep knowledge of buses, expertise in data, ambition and enthusiasm meant that they could develop a whole new ‘secret sauce’ to transform the bus industry.

Since then, I've followed the development of CitySwift closely, and I'm impressed by what they have managed to achieve with the platform.

Knowing you can deliver enhanced reliability and greater passenger satisfaction at less cost through a better understanding of data opens up a whole new future for urban buses.

Knowing you can deliver enhanced reliability and greater passenger satisfaction at less cost through a better understanding of data opens up a whole new future for urban buses.

The UK's bus market is going to continue to be a difficult place to operate for at least another couple of years, but the data insights created by Cityswift can deliver lower costs and happier passengers right now.

This guest blog post is by Robert Montgomery, founder of busreinvented.com and former Managing Director of Stagecoach UK Bus. Robert has almost 50 years’ experience of the bus industry in the UK, Ireland and Saudi Arabia, including more than 30 years in senior management positions. He has played a leading role in a wide range of reinvention projects from the 1980's through to the present day.