Kanwar Brar - Go-Ahead’s digital transformation puts passengers first

Did you know that humble buses are connected technology hubs? You’ll see it when you plan your journey. You’ll see it in the customer portal as you pay for your journey. You’ll hear it in the real-time updates that announces the next stop. You’ll see it on the passenger information screens on board and at the bus stops.

Every aspect of good technology improves a person’s bus journey – giving them more control and helping them get from A to B. 

But as times change, we can’t just settle for what we have. We need to listen to passengers in order to keep generating new ideas. We need to keep up with the technological changes in our customers' daily lives so we can provide the best service and an integrated experience. 

Over the pandemic our passengers have become more accustomed to technology than ever before - whether it’s Zoom catch-ups or doing our shopping online. We need to continue to be one step ahead. 

There’s nothing more frustrating than old or faulty software crashing or the difficulty of navigating an app that hasn’t been updated for few years.  

That’s why at Go-Ahead we continue to deliver up-to-date, high-tech experiences for customers. We’re constantly looking at new ways to adapt, grow and focus our technology to be as accessible, reliable and useful as possible.  

We were one of the the first transport companies to roll out ‘theKey’ smartcards and then the open-loop contactless ticketing across every single one of our buses. Now we’re going a step further – providing solutions such as contactless ‘tap in tap off’ and digital apps.    

Earlier this year we launched 17 bus apps, covering our UK businesses from Go North East in Newcastle to Go South West in Devon & Cornwall. Created in conjunction with a technology start-up, Passenger, all apps feature user friendly easy ticket purchases, real-time journey information, live departure boards and the ability to check bus capacity.  

This means that no matter what bus you’re on in our fleet, you can access all the information you need about your journey from the palm of your hand.  

But we also need to respond to the changing needs of society, especially in terms of sustainability. That’s why the apps include a step count feature as well as a carbon emissions calculator for highlighting the CO2 savings compared with driving a car.  Catching a bus between Brighton and Shoreham-by-Sea (roughly an hour journey) would save 2228g of CO2. That’s the same as charging your mobile phone 9441 times  

However, we know there’s more we can do in this space as we work towards a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035. Some of our bus apps already allow access to local bike hire schemes to promote active travel and we will keep working with the local authorities to extend these capabilities further.  

Over the last couple of months, we went a step further to enhance passengers’ experiences by relaunching eight new bus company websites, again in conjunction with Passenger.  

The websites have been designed to simplify journey planning and provide people with a better & integrated user experience. Many of our companies use the websites to offer integrated web-to-mobile eCommerce, which means you can buy a ticket on our website and use it instantly in our app. 

 Our technology and innovation journey will never stop. We will continue to lead the bus sector in innovation, technology and sustainability. Watch this space  for new concepts on a bus near you.