The UK government has pledged to invest £4 million to develop a bus tracking platform, using GPS to inform passengers when their bus will arrive.
The platform uses data from GPS trackers, which are already installed on 97 per cent of the UK’s buses, to chart the journey and projected arrival time of a bus. The government’s funding comes as part of the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, launched in July 2018, a wide-ranging scheme to promote sustainable transport options and mobility-as-a-service within the UK, using smart transport technologies to make public transport systems more reliable and cost effective.
Research has shown young people in the UK are commonly reluctant to rely on their local bus service as a transport option where others are available, citing among other factors the lack of accurate, immediate information on bus delays and changes available to smartphone users. Buses Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “People expect to turn up to a bus stop knowing when their next service will arrive, particularly in rural areas. We’re investing in systems to make it easier for people to find out where their bus is, how much it will cost and how long it will take. This will save the time people waste waiting, give more people certainty over services and help increase passenger numbers.”
Through the use of open data facilities and location tracking, the government hopes to increase uptake of buses as a viable form of transport – particularly in rural areas and those without other public transport facilities such as trams and trains. Other developments aiming to boost bus usage include smart ticketing applications, increased investment in city centre bus services; and “on-demand” buses: a scheme currently only available in Liverpool whereby passengers can request buses to and from their destination of choice, without being tied to a set route.