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Bus information strategy to reflect people’s requirements by putting digital first

7 March 2019

Next week’s meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee is being asked approve wider engagement on a new Bus Information Strategy.

Usage data shows that increasingly the first place people go for up-to-date bus service information is online. Over 650,000 timetables are downloaded every month and real-time bus information is accessed over 4.6 million times each month via the website and Apps.

Customer-driven

The new draft strategy says that the way people are accessing travel information should be reflected by putting ‘Digital First’. Online information, it says, should always be live, customer-driven, network-wide and inclusive. At the same time it must be cost-effective for local Council Tax-payers.

The way people want to find information and pay for travel is changing, the Transport Committee report says. More people than ever are using smartphones to access information on the Combined Authority’s Metro travel information website at www.wymetro.com. A recent survey in West Yorkshire, the report says, shows all respondents aged between 16 and 44 had access to a mobile phone. About 95% had internet access via a mobile phone.

Dynamic

The new draft Bus Information Strategy builds upon this and aims to ensure that these popular, self-serve options for customers are dynamic and ‘always live. This will help, make public transport the easy and obvious choice for existing and new users.

The draft proposes the current large-scale production of printed information, including pocket timetables that often go unused, will be phased out. Printed information will, however, still be available on demand for the shrinking number of people using it.

Webchat and the enhanced, mobile-responsive, Metro website, are among the improvements in information provision made over recent years, the report says. Others include an online journey planner and timetables and real-time bus information for all West Yorkshire services through the yournextbus service.

Social media channels 

Social media channels such as @MetroTravelNews on Twitter and the West Yorkshire Metro Facebook page have also been successful in providing passengers with updated information. And at-stop screens and QR codes and NFC tags linking to exclusive live information for all the county’s 14,000 stops and shelters have been used over two million times.

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: “Providing accurate, up-to-date information in the form that people want to use it will be essential to us achieving our aim of a 25% increase in bus use across West Yorkshire over the next 10 years.

“Increasingly we are seeing people using the digital options to plan their journeys, stay updated and pay for their travel and the new draft of the Bus Information Strategy reflects this.

“However, it is important that we continue to make printed information available while there are still people who want it in that format, while at the same time ensuring we are achieving cost effectiveness for Council Tax payers.”

The report to next Friday’s meeting also says the provision of information needs to be designed to meet the needs of young people, identified by the new West Yorkshire Bus Alliance as a key growth market.

More attractive to young people

Cllr Groves added: “One of the key objectives of the new West Yorkshire Bus Alliance, which the Combined Authority is forming with the bus companies, must be to make services more attractive to young people.

“As well as ensuring buses are affordable and reliable, this means making them easy to use and understand by providing the information required in the forms that young people want to access it.”

At next Friday’s meeting, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee members are being asked to endorse the Bus Information Strategy’s key objectives and agree wider engagement with stakeholders.

The Transport Committee meeting takes place at 11am on Friday 15 March, at Wellington House in Leeds and everyone is welcome.

Link to the paper and agenda for the meeting.  

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