Reading Buses ‘set for future’ with £1.5m upgrade

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Reading Buses says it is set for the future as it brings a £1.5m technological upgrade to a successful conclusion. The company secured funding for the project through Government’s Local Growth Fund via the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

An application to the LEP was made last year by the operator for funding to upgrade the audio and visual next stop announcement hardware on its buses, as well as those operated by sisted companies Newbury & District and Thames Valley Buses.

The project has allowed the company to install audio-visual systems on 51 buses across Berkshire and upgrade 27 more to the same specification. The firm said that it can now boast that all its buses have audio and visual next stop announcement systems to help customers know when to get off the bus.

It is not only the hardware that has been improved, but the system that provides the data to the buses has also been upgraded, which the company said will bring improvements to the ‘real time’ predictions on its app, website, bus shelters, and control room as well as at railway stations.

Robert Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Reading Buses, said: “We are delighted that we are now able to announce the completion of this amazing project that will help make buses even easier to use. Whilst the majority of buses in Reading have had next stop announcements for a while, this has allowed us to fill in all the gaps. Our entire fleet at Reading Buses, Newbury & District and Thames Valley Buses is now equipped with next stop audio and visual equipment. The upgrade to the background system allows us to future-proof the business and makes it easier for our team to spot any issues and put them right. It will also allow for more accurate tracking of buses on our website, our app and at bus stops. Our buses have provided bus passengers with information about the next train departures when they approach a railway station for some time, and it’s great that we now have bus departure information on screens at Reading and Newbury stations.”

Robert also explained that there were also new developments to the compnay’s online shop: “We have also been able to integrate various parts of our online ticketing into a combined web shop. Customers can now use one log-in for our website and our app and choose whether they want their ticket to be sent to their smart card or their phone.”

Bob Beveridge, Chair of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP added: “We’re delighted to be funding this exciting Local Growth Fund initiative that will make bus travel easier to use by improving the information provided to passengers, at bus stations and online, during their journeys. The scheme will also help to tackle the impact of congestion on the local bus network by interfacing with smart traffic light systems and relaying information through on-street displays, improved web and mobile services and other new technologies. This is another example of the LEP acting as a catalyst to the economic success of Berkshire by investing and supporting our businesses to embrace latest technology.”

Robert Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Reading Buses, is seen with Bob Beveridge, Chair of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP. READING BUSES