Stagecoach Group invests in AI based bus route planning tool
- Investment will help plan the changes in travel coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic;
- New AI platform Optibus will help improve service delivery and provide more efficient timetables;
- State-of-the-art artificial intelligence, advanced algorithms and cloud computing used to make timetables smarter;
- Major technological transformation will enable quicker roll-out of electric buses.
Stagecoach, Britain’s biggest bus, coach and tram operator, has announced a major investment in new technology that will help plan the bus networks of the future. An artificial intelligence based platform called Optibus will match the changes in how people travel coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The major technological transformation will see the Optibus software platform being rolled out. It is used in more than 450 cities around the world and uses a combination of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, advanced algorithms and cloud computing to deliver smarter timetables and networks and keep up with the continually evolving demand for travel. It will help deliver the most efficient timetables and rosters that offer customers both attractive frequencies and reliability. It will also reduce CO2 emissions as buses can be planned more effectively.
Optibus’ rapid scenario creation 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 customer first.
The new technology will also help Stagecoach to roll out its new 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.
Carla Stockton-Jones, UK Managing Director for Stagecoach, said: “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.
“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 later this year, the Optibus platform will then be rolled out in a phased approach across the regions.
Optibus CEO and co-founder Amos Haggiag added: “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.
“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 major investment in new technology to help improve the service it offers customers. Earlier this year, it announced it was to become the first UK bus operator to invest in the national roll-out of new bridge alert technology. New digital systems have also been introduced to manage the maintenance of its bus fleet, which is helping to provide greater availability and boost reliability, and it has delivered Britain’s biggest transit contactless programme.
An EM60 Presentation, 01 March 2021.
Images of double decker outside the Trafford Centre and iMac courtesy of PRgloo Limited.