Optibus helps bus operators plan routes out of lockdown

  • March 8, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Stagecoach, Britain’s biggest bus, coach and tram operator, is using technology from Israeli company Optibus to plan bus networks and timetables as cities come out of Covid-19 lockdown.

The software is used in more than 450 cities around the world and uses a combination of artificial intelligence, algorithms and cloud computing to deliver smarter timetables and networks and keep up with the continually evolving demand for travel. It should help deliver more efficient timetables and rosters that offer travellers attractive frequencies and reliability. It can also reduce CO2 emissions by planning services more effectively.

Optibus will allow planners to identify different options for the most efficient and effective delivery of routes and timetables and quickly see the impact of any changes, enabling decisions to be made that continue to put the traveller first.

The technology will also help Stagecoach roll out its electric vehicles more quickly and more effectively by ensuring factors such as charging locations and charging times are included in the schedules. Last year, Stagecoach introduced Manchester’s first fleet of electric double-decker buses and is targeting a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2035.

“With our 40-year history of delivering innovation, it is crucial that we continue investing in the latest technology to provide the best services for our customers and to help attract new customers,” said Carla Stockton-Jones, managing director of Stagecoach. “As we have seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to be able to respond to changing circumstances quickly and alter timetables and operations delivery to best suit the needs of our customers and communities. This major investment will give our planning teams the latest cutting-edge technology to help ensure that timetables can be planned faster and more easily. We are confident that, as we come out of the pandemic, this new technology will help us to plan the bus networks of the future and ensure that buses continue to play a key role in the country’s recovery.”

Following pilots in July, the Optibus platform will be rolled out in a phased approach over 18 months across the regions.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made it clearer than ever that cities and public transportation providers must be flexible and innovative to be able to adapt rapidly and reach informed, data-driven decisions that best serve residents’ changing travel needs,” said Optibus CEO and co-founder Amos Haggiag. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Britain’s biggest bus operator to power a pandemic recovery that puts passenger needs at the forefront while transitioning to a zero-emission fleet, helping us all to breathe easier.”

Stagecoach is continuing to make investments in technology to help improve the service it offers. Earlier this year, it announced it was to become the first UK bus operator to invest in the national rollout of bridge alert technology. Digital systems have also been introduced to manage the maintenance of its bus fleet, which is helping provide greater availability and boost reliability, and it has delivered Britain’s biggest transit contactless programme.