Oxfordshire’s bus passengers benefit from personalised messaging

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Oxfordshire’s bus passengers will be among the first in the country to benefit from a new service providing personalised real-time journey updates, helping them to travel safely as travel restrictions begin to ease, says tech firm Zipabout.

Zipabout’s Passenger Connect service will be available to bus passengers for the first time in Oxfordshire, in collaboration with Oxontime. ZIPABAOUT

The company’s Passenger Connect service will tell passengers how disruption and crowding may affect their journey, as well as providing alternative travel options. It says passengers will be able to access the service via Messenger in the coming weeks.

Passenger Connect is also able to identify key workers and essential journeys, which Zipabout says will help transport operators and local authorities plan timetables to meet changing demand. The service has been piloted by a number of train operators and National Rail Enquiries over the last 18 months, but this is the first time the technology will be used to support those reliant on buses. Zipabout says that plans being developed to extend the service to incorporate tram and metro networks across other regions in the UK.

The project has been funded by a grant from Innovate UK of nearly £50,000 and will be delivered in collaboration with Oxontime, a bus information service run by independent bus operators and Oxfordshire County Council.

Zipabout Co-founder, Alex Froom, said: “As people emerge from lockdown and begin returning to work, transport operators and local authorities will need to provide accurate, timely travel information across all services to ensure the safety of passengers. We have been delivering personalised communication to rail passengers for years and now we’re delighted to begin adding bus, tram and metro support to our multi-modal service.”

Cabinet Member for Environment at Oxfordshire County Council Councillor Yvonne Constance said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to lead the way in the next level of personalised messaging to bus users. The service has been successfully applied on trains and this next step will open up the benefits to many more users and hopefully be a key tool to enabling people to use buses safely through the next phases in the COVID-19 response. We hope that by working with Zipabout, DFT, Oxontime and partners that this will provide a benchmark for the rest of the UK.”