First Bus announces App update to live-track bus capacity
First West of England is launching an update to its mobile app that will enable customers across the region to live track not only the location of their next bus but also its available capacity.
The new technology will be rolled out across the UK by First Bus, as the operator continues to develop ways to help customers social distance on board its fleet.
First Bus will be the first major bus operator to introduce live capacity tracking. This reduces uncertainty for customers and allows them to make informed decisions about their essential journeys. Going live this week, the app update will show customers a bus icon on a map depicting the live location and available capacity of each vehicle in the vicinity. This new functionality will provide customers with the information they need as the bus approaches.
The innovation has been made possible by First Bus’s new passenger counting functionality, announced at the end of May. Data from this system feeds directly to the First Bus app in real time.
This app update coincides with First West of England increasing the number of buses operating across the region from last Sunday 31st May, with support from UK Government. The uplift in services support social distancing for customers who need to use public transport, in line with Government guidance.
This additional capacity will allow customers to travel in comfort and safety as lockdown restrictions are being relaxed, maintaining social distancing guidance at the same time. Seats on each bus are now clearly marked indicating where customers should sit.
First Bus continues to encourage cashless payments, and use of the app to purchase mTickets, to reduce the need for contact between customers and drivers.
Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First Bus said “We are really proud to have been able to fast-track this technology to ensure safe, informed travel during these difficult times. Our buses provide an essential service for our customers and we are doing all we can to support them.”
James Freeman, Managing Director at First West of England said: “The new app technology means that our customers can now check the how much space is on a bus before it arrives at the stop. This is a hugely significant step in supporting social distancing on our buses for customers who need to use public transport, in line with Government guidance.
“As capacity on-board is limited due to social distancing, we have increased the number of buses on selected routes. However, we expect there will still be occasions when customers may not be able to board their intended journey due to capacity levels being reached. We advise those who cannot avoid public transport to plan their journeys ahead and this new App facility will help customers to avoid busier periods by checking the spaces on each bus.
“The wellbeing of our passengers and drivers is our number one priority, and we would like to thank customers for their ongoing patience and co-operation in these difficult times. As the lockdown continues to ease, we all have a vital role to play in getting the region moving again safely.”
This latest update from First Bus forms part of its ongoing work to improve the customer experience. Customers should check the First West of England website at www.firstgroup.com/coronaviruswoe for the latest service changes and updates.