With the rapidly changing bus network due to the changes in travel patterns from the covid pandemic, National Express West Midlands needed a more efficient way to keep their timetables published on their website accurate. Creating manual PDF’s was becoming a huge administrative effort, was prone to errors or being out of date and most importantly didn’t provide passengers with a presentation of the timetables that best suited their needs.
Having discussed with the marketing, customer service and planning teams at NX West Midlands, uTrack created a new timetables solution called “Dynamic Timetables”. Automatically importing all the TransXChange files created by the planning department, it meant the uTrack Platform could validate the files as well as handle the current and future scheduled changes based on the start and end dates.
The second major difference is the PDF’s are creating dynamically so as a customer requested the information it meant it was never out of date. Additional inputs like getting the origin and destination from the passenger meant the system could create a personalised timetable for that specific journey including merging different services together if there was more than route.
By default, the date is set to the current day but a customer can select a date in the future, which if there’s a planned timetable change for that day it will be reflected in the dynamically generated timetable.
Another usability benefit is that the web-based application is also responsive so you can use the facility on a computer or mobile device such as a tablet or smart phone. The previous PDF’s were always difficult to view effectively on smaller screens due to the volume of variations leading to lots of small print and extra pages to view.
If a passenger wishes to view a timetable for a specific route number the solution dynamically groups the schedules into days based on the patterns e.g. if the route is the same Monday to Thursday but has a variation on a Friday, Saturday & Sunday it will create tables for each of those variations, again to highlight to passengers that they may need to travel at a slightly different time on a Friday because the service departs at a different time to say Monday – Thursday.
The final benefit to NX West Midlands has been the timetables are search engine friendly, meaning the likes of Google can index and therefore return the timetable pages in their search results, unlike the previous PDF’s. This naturally increases NXWM visibility online and people searching for bus routes and drives more visitor traffic to their website.
National Express West Midlands (NXWM) was founded in 1986, headquartered in Birmingham, UK and is a subsidiary of Mobico Group. The biggest Bus Operator in the West Midlands and one of the largest in the UK.
uTrack Software was founded in December 2010, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland providing software-based technology for the public transport industry in Europe & North America. uTrack’s clients carry over 2 billion passengers annually on their services across School Buses, Urban Bus, Rail and Intercity Coaches.