Galway business CitySwift selected to power transport operator National Express’s network planning and provide optimised bus routes across the West Midlands.

CitySwift has landed a three-year multi-million pound tech deal with National  Express West Midlands, the biggest bus operator outside London.

In what is a major win for AI and machine learning, National Express West Midlands will be using the Irish company’s technology to provide enhanced network planning and optimised routes in the region to provide Covid-safe journeys.

“The pandemic has accelerated the need for the sector to go through a digital transformation to understand how passenger demand will change and National Express is at the forefront of this”

The investment will also support National Express Group’s mission to be the UK’s most sustainable bus and coach company.

Big data drives the big buses

After a successful initial roll-out, National Express West Midlands has extended its relationship with CitySwift and implemented the company’s data-driven scheduling and planning technology, which uses AI, Big Data and machine learning techniques.

By gaining insights through the platform, the bus operator can make more informed decisions to match vehicle supply with passenger demand and improve efficiency and reliability, leading to a better overall onboard experience for customers, while also significantly reducing operating costs.

Currently, there are 1,300 National Express operational buses in the West Midlands and 150,000 passenger journeys per day. To ensure continued adherence to social distancing requirements, CitySwift will enable the bus operator to share accurate bus capacity predictions on a stop-by-stop basis. This will help passengers make the right journey choices, avoid crowding and feel safer.

“As an organisation, we plan to be net-zero by 2030 and CitySwift plays an important role in helping us achieve that,” said Chris Gibbens, commercial director of National Express West Midlands.

“By enabling networks to optimise routes, stay on schedule, and avoid crowding, CitySwift effectively increases the number of people using our buses as well as providing a safe environment for them.

“The pandemic has meant that we need to restore passenger confidence and ensure we put the right number of vehicles on the right routes at the right times to get people back on board, and CitySwift enables us to do just that.”

With the Commonwealth Games taking place from the 28th July – 8th August, 2022, CitySwift’s platform will also be supporting National Express West Midlands to help it efficiently and reliably transport visitors to and around the city of Birmingham.

The platform is currently live with 8,500 buses in over 35 cities across the UK, US and Europe.

CitySwift’s platform combines a vast array of big data sources to develop rich datasets that are unique to each bus network and geographical location. Machine learning models within the platform are trained on these datasets to deliver highly accurate predictions of future operating conditions and constraints. These in turn provide optimal transport networks, meeting and exceeding customer demand in the most efficient way.

“We’re really pleased that National Express chose to work with CitySwift. Covid-19 has forced the public transport sector to be at its most agile, which has meant the adoption of new working practices and technologies at a pace never before seen,” said Brian O’Rourke, CEO and co-founder of CitySwift.

“The pandemic has accelerated the need for the sector to go through a digital transformation to understand how passenger demand will change and National Express is at the forefront of this, as they use our technology to ensure vehicle supply matches the demand.”

Main image at top: CitySwift founders Brian O’Rourke and Alan Farrelly

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 16 June 2021