Connecting London’s buses

What are the benefits of a ‘connected' bus system in London: both in managing a better service and the benefits of free Wi-Fi for passengers?

London red buses are an iconic sight. They have been a part of the city’s appeal for decades and are a constant reminder of London’s colourful transport history.

More than four billion journeys around the country’s capital are taken by bus – over half of the UK’s total bus journeys. In such a modern, connected city, this popularity demands a new, smarter bus system – one that not only gets you from A to B, but keeps you connected along the way.

>See also: The future of connectivity and delivery

The connected commute

The London commute is a talking point for those based both inside and out of the city. After all, Londoners have the longest average commuting times in the country. Many commuters feel pressure to work en-route, but find this difficult to do with limited connectivity. Things are changing for the better though with the introduction of in-vehicle connectivity.

This has the potential to transform the daily commute from an inconvenient time-waste to an efficient mobile workspace. Fast, reliable and dependable connectivity offers passengers the freedom to use the commute as they please – whether that’s tackling their inbox, or catching up on their favourite TV show.

The Citymapper Smartbus

Citymapper has embraced this need for a connected commute. Designed to ‘make cities usable’ Citymapper’s transport app is using Transport for London’s (TfL) live data to create smarter buses that will lead to better mobility in London.

The bright green ‘Smartbuses’ update their routes in real time and include internal smart displays for passengers. To avoid confusion over flexible routing, which may see the bus periodically taking a different route, the smart display shows passengers where they are and where they will be next. This makes the agile, ever-changing routes familiar as well as flexible.

>See also: Connectivity: the fuel for the future of the auto industry

The ‘Smartbus’ is wired and wireless, with tracking software for real time integration with the Citymapper app, passenger counting, and a driver app. It has USB ports in the seating so passengers can stay fully charged, and in-vehicle WiFi to keep them online throughout their commute.

Leading the charge against congestion

Many large cities experience the problem of congestion, and London is no different. The ‘Smartbus’ will be smaller, and more ‘nimble’ so it can navigate the city more easily. This could be the future of smart transportation; the potential to boost efficiency on those 4.47 billion yearly journeys is huge.

Data collected by the app offers important insights into how people are moving around London. The data is used to understand how current routes can be improved and where new routes can be calculated.

Citymapper’s data system, ‘Simcity,’ conducts real time operational control which helps driver management, scheduling and integrating systems that don’t traditionally work together to create a smarter, more efficient commute.

>See also: The role of telcos in smart cities

By analysing the findings, Citymapper has discovered that London’s transport system simply cannot keep up with the pace of the city’s growth. It simply is not evolving at the same rate as the city itself.

This is why a connected fleet is such a fantastic solution. Running on data that is collected in real-time means that the buses will always be integrated with the fast-growing infrastructure of the city they serve.

Growing connectivity

Connectivity is transforming peoples lives for the better – the commute is the perfect example. Just take a look at St Pancras station – London’s most connected train station.

Connectivity can create new and innovative ways of increasing productivity. The public is now seeing how the demand for connectivity within the travel industry is changing its very foundations. Secure, always-on, in-vehicle connectivity has the potential to revolutionise the transport sector.

>See also: The hyper-connectivity revolution

To conduct flexible bus journeys dependent on real-time data, Citymapper will need a network solution for in-vehicle connectivity and software that manages the entire fleet from a remote location.

While connecting to the smartphones of passengers is the start, ensuring London’s Smartbuses can talk to each other securely is the natural next step. The software they use will also need to be backed up by effective security, protecting the data of those on-board. It is exciting to see how Citymapper will meet these challenges and continue to develop this innovative solution for London’s commuters.


Sourced by Hubert Da Costa, VP EMEA at Cradlepoint

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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