CitySwift launches platform with major UK bus operator

16 Jun 2021

Brian O'Rourke and Alan Farrelly. Image: CitySwift

The start-up’s software will be used by the bus operator, which has 1,300 vehicles, to monitor capacity and optimise routes.

Galway’s CitySwift, a transport technology start-up, has inked a deal with a bus operator in the UK, in areas including the city of Birmingham.

The start-up’s software will be used by National Express West Midlands, the largest bus operator outside of London, to manage its route planning and optimise its services for passengers.

CitySwift, which raised €2m last year, uses big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to collect and analyse data about bus routes to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs.

The deal with National Express West Midlands is expanding on an initial roll-out. The operator has 1,300 buses and carries out 150,000 passenger journeys every day.

A key use of CitySwift is managing bus capacity throughout a journey. This has become crucial for bus operators that need to restrict numbers during the pandemic to facilitate social distancing.

“Covid-19 has forced the public transport sector to be at its most agile, which has meant the adoption of new working practices and technologies at a pace never before seen,” CitySwift chief executive Brian O’Rourke said.

“The pandemic has accelerated the need for the sector to go through a digital transformation to understand how passenger demand will change and National Express is at the forefront of this, as they use our technology to ensure vehicle supply matches the demand.”

Chris Gibbens, commercial director at National Express West Midlands, said the software will help the organisation’s efforts in the areas of safety and becoming net-zero by 2030.

“The pandemic has meant that we need to restore passenger confidence and ensure we put the right number of vehicles on the right routes at the right times to get people back on board, and CitySwift enables us to do just that,” Gibbens added.

Beyond Covid, CitySwift will be assisting National Express West Midlands in providing transport services during the Commonwealth Games taking place in Birmingham in 2022.

Since raising funding last year, CitySwift has focused heavily on the UK market. Its platform is in operation with 8,500 buses in over 35 cities across the UK as well as the US and Europe.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin