Galway’s CitySwift raises €2m for its public transport AI platform

24 Jun 2020

From left: Brian O'Rourke and Alan Farrelly. Image: CitySwift

The Galway transport start-up is now launching a new AI platform that enables commuters to see how busy a bus will be.

Today (24 June), Galway-based CitySwift announced that it has raised an additional €2m in funding, bringing the total raised by the business to date to €3.5m.

The funding round was led by Irelandia Investments, Act Venture Capital and former CarTrawler CEO Mike McGearty. There was also participation from other Irish transport entrepreneurs. All investors were involved in the start-up’s previous funding round in March 2019.

CitySwift was founded in 2016 by CEO Brian O’Rourke and COO Alan Farrelly. The start-up has developed a cloud-native, data-driven technology platform for urban bus networks. O’Rourke is a former Citibank analyst, while Farrelly was born into the bus industry.

According to the start-up, the latest funding will help speed up product development and support the company as it hires 25 new employees in Ireland and remotely over the next 12 months.

These hires will be across commercial and technical roles, including business development, customer success, product, data science and engineering, fuelling the expansion of its business in the European market.

Transport technology

CitySwift said that dynamic public transport planning and optimising operations through data are set to play a main role in the recovery after Covid-19 and the future of public transportation and mobility in cities.

The company has developed an end-to-end SaaS platform that visualises a city’s mobility data and creates an operational plan and schedule simulations that orchestrate the movements of passengers and vehicles in a city-wide transportation ecosystem. CitySwift said that this enables public transport operators to choose the best options available and create a better service for passengers while reducing operating costs.

CitySwift’s data engine for public transport has now been rolled out by a number of passenger transport companies in the UK, including National Express and the Go-Ahead Group.

The start-up said that its technology has also enabled operators to have an agile response to social distancing measures and lockdown restrictions, helping bus companies in planning and reacting to Covid-19 measures.

The introduction of When2Travel

The company’s latest development is When2Travel, which is a passenger-facing bus capacity checker that uses AI predictions. It works like Google Maps, but lets passengers see how busy their bus is likely going to be, up to two weeks in advance of travelling.

CitySwift’s AI generates dynamic predictions of bus loadings to help inform passengers’ journey choices while capacities are restricted and as new travel patterns emerge. Passengers can access a colour-coded timetable of bus routes, which shows what buses are likely to be busy or have space, on a stop-by-stop basis.

The technology has already been deployed across Go-Ahead’s UK operations through CitySwift said that other bus operators have shown interest in the technology.

Managing director of Go North East, Martijn Gilbert, said: “What CitySwift have delivered is a more detailed and comprehensive solution than I had envisaged. I think it could be the most powerful use of big data yet in terms of aiding local bus networks and customer service.”

O’Rourke, who is co-founder and CEO of CitySwift, added: “One thing we’ve come to learn through Covid-19 is just how important data is – whether for businesses trying to operate, governments trying to reopen or individuals trying to understand this pandemic.

“This has been even more evident for public transport companies as they monitored the effects of lockdown restrictions on their networks and model and plan for future scenarios as restrictions have begun to ease. The CitySwift platform has been leveraged to enable our clients and their passengers to make informed, data-driven decisions as they navigate the road to recovery in these ever-changing times.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic