Dart catches up with bus

6 Oct 2004

Dublin commuters are now able to check the time of the next Dart, thanks to a service recently launched by Iarnrod Eireann. The service, known as Dartxt, is already reportedly generating 1,000 text enquiries every weekday. The launch of the service comes 15 months after Dublin Bus launched a similar service, Bustxt.

Using any mobile phone on any network, customers text Dart followed by a station name (eg Pearse) to 53700. In reply they receive notification of up to the next ten Darts in both directions. The information is up-to-date, giving the actual arrival times rather than those scheduled.

Following a €500m investment programme in infrastructure and rolling stock, Iarnrod Eireann sees the new service as the first in a series of technology solutions to improve customer service. O2 Mobile Marketing Services provided the technology, SMS Broker, behind the service.

“O2 was the only provider to offer a broker service which meant we did not have to negotiate with a variety of operators but could run the service across all networks,” remarked Ray Kelly, corporate affairs manager, Iarnrod Eireann, adding: “SMS is an effective way of making us more relevant, especially to younger customers who are difficult to target through traditional marketing techniques.”

“Before SMS Broker, companies had to negotiate directly with each network operator and were exposed to major software, hardware and training costs,” commented Paul Farrell, head of marketing, O2 Ireland.

Iarnrod Eireann and O2 share the revenue generated by the service.

A similar service has been available to bus users for over a year. In July 2003, Dublin Bus launched Bustxt, which allows commuters to discover the scheduled departure time of the next three buses on a given route in either direction. Unlike the new Dart service, however, Bustxt is not updated in real time to reflect delays.

By Brian Skelly