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Customer Service Innovation from First Bus – making your journey easier

First Bus, one of the UK’s largest operators, has launched an update to its mobile app that will enable customers across the UK to live track not only the location of their next bus but also its available capacity, as the operator continues to develop ways to help customers social distance on board its fleet.

First Bus was the first major bus operator to roll out live capacity tracking. This reduces uncertainty for customers and allows them to make informed decisions about their essential journeys. The app update shows customers a bus icon on a map depicting the live location and available capacity of each vehicle in the vicinity. This new functionality will provide customers with the information they need as the bus approaches.

The innovation has been made possible by First Bus’s new passenger counting functionality, data from this system feeding directly to the First Bus app in real time.

With social distancing guidance being required on board buses, this will allow customers to travel in comfort and safety. To further support social distancing, and in addition to passenger counting, seats on each bus are now clearly marked indicating where customers should sit.

This has now been augmented by the rollout across First Bus of the “Space Checker” tool, geared up to help passengers navigate the “new normal”.

‘Space Checker’ has been created to assist customers who are looking to travel by bus, to ‘plan ahead’ with confidence, see when their preferred service and bus stop is typically at its busiest and choose a quieter time to travel should they want to.  The system uses the latest passenger data for each service, journey and location to predict how much space there will be on each bus and at bus stops, depending on the time of day for up to seven days in advance.

In this new era of working from home, flexible working and continually changing leisure habits, First is looking to make life as easy as possible and welcome customers back onto bus as they adapt to new travel patterns.

By enabling customers to review and plan their travel at any time of the day, and provide greater insights into predicted passengers, First is helping to relieve capacity for key workers, who are restricted to more regular travel patterns, and who do not have the option of avoiding the busier times of the day. 

Customers simply select which bus service they want to take, select the direction in which they are travelling and then select their stop. ‘Space Checker’ will then indicate the busiest times for the service and stop, whilst also providing alternative services from that stop.

First Bus has also recently launched a new way for customers to avoid using cash on buses, with Express Mode for Apple Pay.  First Bus is the first UK bus operator outside of London to launch this innovative technology fleet-wide. The scheme was accelerated through the impact of Coronavirus and has been introduced right across the Company to make bus travel easier than ever for journeys right across the UK.

Customers can now enjoy the true ‘tap-and-go’ convenience of Express Mode on Apple Pay on iPhone and Apple Watch by holding their device near the reader, which will make boarding even faster. There is no need to wake or unlock the device, open an app or use Face ID or Touch ID.

Apple Pay is easy to set up. On iPhone, simply open the Wallet app, tap +, and follow the steps to add your credit or debit cards. To enable Express Mode for Apple Pay, go to Settings and select your chosen card in Wallet & Apple Pay under Express Travel Card. 
First Bus continues to encourage cashless payments, and use of the App to purchase mTickets, to reduce the need for contact between customers and drivers.

These latest updates from First Bus forms part of our ongoing work to improve the customer experience.

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