First partners with Prospective for fleet scheduling

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First has trialled the Prospective platform at its West Yorkshire operations. JONATHAN WELCH

First Bus and Prospective.io have been working in partnership since 2019 to develop and test automated timetabling and fleet scheduling software, which is now being rolled out across some of First’s largest UK operating companies

First Bus and Prospective.io have signed a significant partnership agreement to deploy Prospective’s AI platform, rolling out automated, data driven timetabling and scheduling software across its largest UK operating companies.

The deployment at First’s Glasgow, Bristol, Manchester, West of England, Essex and West Yorkshire operations is expected to improve service punctuality for over half a million daily passengers and will enable local scheduling teams to make subtle changes to schedules throughout the year to maintain service quality. First says that its use of Prospective’s automated scheduling system FlowOS has led to improvements in service punctuality and reliability in its West Yorkshire operations as well as saving fleet resources and staff time that can be invested back into improving local service delivery.

By using the Prospective platform, First’s schedulers are able to create or adjust full timetables and vehicle schedules for individual services in minutes, a process that Prospective says can typically take days, which empowers local teams to make more frequent, subtler changes to service that ensure that timetables will remain accurate throughout the year.

Thanks to Prospective, First Bus says it now has the capability to leverage three years’ worth of real-time operational fleet data on passenger and vehicle flows and can identify how bus travel times fluctuate by hour of the day, day of the week and by season and how to accommodate this variability as efficiently as possible; how passengers flow through its services and what this means for boarding times and vehicle occupancy at different times of the day; and when and where to add or remove time in timetables to ensure enough time for services to remain punctual without slowing overall journey times.

First Bus Chief Commercial Officer Simon Pearson said: “We are excited to roll out the Prospective’s network planning and scheduling software to a number of our major operating companies, helping us to deliver smoother, more punctual services to our passengers across the country. By combining automated timetabling and vehicle scheduling from Prospective, along with our recent investment in Optibus driver rostering software, it means that our scheduling team can now deliver speed, accuracy and flexibility across the full spectrum of network planning decision making.

“This deployment will further improve the customer experience and unlock more time for our local teams to explore service design improvements using the best available data. We look forward to working in partnership with the team at Prospective, to explore new opportunities for improving our bus services in the future.”

Prospective CEO Pete Ferguson said: “We are delighted to be rolling out FlowOS with First Bus, helping the company deliver more reliable and convenient public transport services up and down the country and to help grow public transport ridership in the UK. First Bus has been central to our development of custom AI software for the UK public transport market and has supported us throughout the development, testing and refinement of a number of our products.

“We are grateful for its support, creativity and commitment to improving public transport across the UK and we are proud of our strengthening partnership with the company.”