Passengers waiting at stops in North Staffordshire will now be able to track the exact location of their bus – and find out whether there is space to get on.
First Potteries has introduced a new app to allow customers to watch on their mobile phones as the driver approaches.
And they will also be able to see if there are enough free seats after capacity was severely reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The live tracking app has been brought in as operators look at new ways of keeping staff and passengers safe.
It works by feeding data from the ticket machine to register how many people are on a bus at any given time.
Nigel Eggleton, managing director of First Potteries, said “We are constantly working on ways to improve the journey experience for our customers and with this latest enhancement of app technology it can help provide safe, informed travel during these difficult times.
“This latest functionality reduces uncertainty for customers and will allow them to make informed decisions in planning an essential journey.
“Going live this week, the app update will show customers a bus icon on a map depicting the live location and available capacity of each vehicle in the vicinity.
“The innovation has been made possible by First Bus’s new passenger counting functionality, announced at the end of May. Data from this system feeds directly to the First Bus app in real time.
“Our buses provide an essential service for our customers and we are doing all we can to support them.”
Dan Flanagan, First’s operations manager, added: “The data is fed from the ticket machine. With the reduced services there has been an opportunity for a software update on the ticket machines, so the driver can now count people off the bus. So the ticket machine displays a constant record of people on the bus.
“They can also display ‘bus full’ on the front of the bus now when capacity is reached.”
First potteries has also brought in a number of measures to give drivers and customers peace of mind.
- Kitting out drivers with gloves, masks and wipes;
- A team of volunteer drivers cleaning buses at Hanley bus station around three times per day;
- Extra signs;
- Closing off the bottom five stands at the bus station and;
- Displays on the front if buses to indicate when it is full.