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Coach operator

Using passenger WiFi on demand-responsive bus services

Fleet management made easy with the Sygnal Portal

By | Coach hire, Coach operator, Onboard advertising, Passenger Wifi, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

At the risk of stating the obvious, the bus and coach industry is undergoing a period of rapid change. The growth in onboard technologies, coupled with new vehicle emission standards, have added further layers of complexity to the already demanding job of running a successful coach hire business.

That’s why, alongside consistency and cost, convenience is an essential aspect for operators considering new onboard technologies. Sygnal understands just how vital convenience is to operators. Sygnal X, our flagship 4G data-wireless server, was designed specifically to maximise range and reliability while enabling easy installation.

Using the Sygnal Portal for effective fleet management

Of course, simple installation and maintenance is essential for a modern transport firm, but hardware is just one element of service. Sygnal understands that the most convenient onboard WiFi solutions give customers the freedom to manage their own technologies. The custom OS enables simple setup and secure sign-in for passengers, but it’s in the management system that the Sygnal X really shines. With every Sygnal order, customers also gain secure access to their own remote management platform; the Sygnal Portal.

With access to Sygnal’s custom streaming library, fleet management, vehicle status updates, route designation, WiFi analytics and a viewing portal for CCTV & Dashcam footage, the Sygnal Portal puts operators firmly in control of their fleet.

Every aspect of the Sygnal Portal user experience (UX) was designed with the operator in mind. With a dedicated sign-in, operators can remotely access their Sygnal Portal from anywhere. With business and networking events requiring regular travel, remote access is essential for operators looking to maintain visibility of their fleet on the go. Updates to the Portal are rolled out remotely, meaning there’s no disruption to the operator. Of course, the Portal is fully optimised for mobile.

With the Sygnal Portal, operators can simplify the many processes required to run a modern, efficient coach service while providing the latest onboard amenities to passengers.

Want to try Sygnal’s fleet management software on your own vehicles? Get in touch today and find out more!

Sygnal at the Euro Bus Expo

Sygnal returns from successful Euro Bus Expo debut

By | Coach operator, Euro Bus Expo, News, Transport | No Comments

Sygnal showcased a range of new and exciting transport technologies during its first Euro Bus Expo visit at the NEC Birmingham, including the new Sygnal Portal.

The team behind Sygnal’s 4G passenger WiFi and integrated security systems enjoyed the opportunity to discuss potential partnerships with industry leaders and explore commercial opportunities with some of the biggest names in the bus and coach sector. Among these new technologies was the new Sygnal Portal, a remote access dashboard that enables operators to track their vehicles, monitor data usage and upload custom advertisements direct to their Sygnal servers.

As a leading developer of transport technologies, Sygnal was ideally positioned to demonstrate the latest industry innovations at Europe’s biggest bus and coach event. As demand for onboard connectivity grows, passenger WiFi has rapidly become an indispensable feature for bus and coach companies, particularly those typically priced out by the larger wireless internet connectivity providers.

Natalie Crayton, Business Development Director of Sygnal, said:

“Euro Bus Expo was a fantastic opportunity to meet with owners, drivers, operators and industry figures and we couldn’t be happier with how it went. Not only were we able to engage with exhibitors and attendees from across the industry, but we were also able to showcase our unique technologies to a diverse range of prospective clients and partners.”

Onboard WiFi for your coach service

Passengers expect WiFi as standard on their coach service. Likewise, custom services aimed at increasing operational efficiency are now a fundamental feature on all transport networks. Despite launching less than a year ago, Sygnal has already established a reputation for innovative and cost-effective transport solutions. It was this approach to developing reliable, sustainable services utilising the latest technologies that enabled Sygnal to engage with a huge number of exhibitors at this years’ Euro Bus Expo.

Click here to find out more about the Sygnal Portal or any of the other Sygnal transport technologies.

Using dashcams for coaches to monitor driver habits

Dashcams for coaches: The future of commercial transport

By | Coach operator, Dashcams, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

Commercial transport technology is changing at a rapid pace. Wireless charging roads, autonomous coaches on our streets and flying taxis above us; these developments are now within our reach. But in truth, these technologies are still a long way off for the majority of people. Instead, it’s the smaller, less conspicuous technologies that make a difference to ordinary drivers.

Features like inbuilt GPS, driver attention detection software and adaptive cruise control are all changing how we get around in subtle ways. But of all the onboard amenities available today, one of the most overlooked is the humble dashcam. Dashcams for coaches are quickly becoming an essential feature as operators begin to see their value as a tool to lower costs and increase efficiency.

So what purpose do dashcams really serve? The dashboard camera of today can serve multiple functions for drivers and operators, a far cry from the blurry footage and boxy designs of yesteryear.

Reduce insurance premiums

First and foremost, adding dashcams to your coaches will go a long way to decreasing your insurance premiums. After all, if you can provide visual evidence of your driver’s journeys, you technically pose less of a risk to the insurers.

Be warned, your insurance company isn’t obligated to lower your insurance rates simply because you’ve bought a dashcam. However, it’s generally accepted that installing dashcams on your coaches can lead to reductions, with some insurance providers offering up to a 15% discount for those with onboard cameras installed.

In 2015, insurers began accepting dashcam footage as evidence when settling claims. That means recorded journeys can give operators leverage in the event of an accident. Clear, incontrovertible evidence can be used to expedite investigations and reduce the amount of time a vehicle is off the road.

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Protect against fraud

It’s a sad truth that some road users are willing to cause a crash for a quick cash settlement. It’s also a sad reality that fraudsters increasingly target company vehicles in a bid to extract bigger payouts. But with a dashcam, drivers can be assured that

These ‘cash-for-crash’ scammers often stake out their victims in advance. The very presence of dashcams on your vehicles could be enough to deter anyone from trying to scam you. Of course, if they do try to instigate a crash when your vehicle is stocked with CCTV, they’ll soon discover that their luck has run out.

Increase safety

Dashcams are also a handy addition for operators looking to integrate another layer of security to their fleet. While onboard CCTV gives operators total visibility of anything that happens on their coaches, it doesn’t capture the action outside. Capturing external footage won’t protect drivers and passengers in the event of a crash, but it can make drivers think more about how they’re driving.

While it’s true that some insurers suggest drivers cover or hide their dashcams when the vehicle is empty, a visible camera can act as a vital deterrent to criminals. Even the presence of a camera can be enough to make thieves think again.

Dash cams can increase more than just driver and passenger safety. With integrations for Pedestrian Auto Emergency Braking technology, coaches can potentially alert drivers to vulnerable road users and reduce the impact speed of a crash.

Navigating on transport with onboard wifi

Track journeys

Front and rear dashcams for coaches are increasingly being used to track journeys and identify congestion points. When used in conjunction with tools like the Sygnal GPS and Engine Tracker, operators can begin to build up a detailed understanding of where vehicles are most likely to experience delays. From these insights, operators can begin to cut down on fuel consumption, reduce journey times and increase passenger satisfaction.

It’s not just about data analysis and route optimisation. Drivers are also in a unique position to capture stunning views. Picture driving through the scenic Scottish Highlands or exploring the twisting country roads of the Lake District; these images can be used to sell your journeys to new passengers and update your company website.

Improve training programs

Dash cams can also be a great source of information for new drivers in the form of visual training material. Offering visual instruction on how to manoeuvre tight spaces, respond to high-speed incidents and adhere to local driving regulations when on an international coach tour; dashcams can capture real-world illustrations of all these and more.

Video footage gathered from different driving situations can inform new practices and define standards for a new generation of drivers. Simultaneously, new drivers can record their journeys, then receive feedback from instructors on where they need improvement.

Using dashcams for coaches to improve driver training

Things to bear in mind

While dashcams offer a great range of solutions to some big transport issues, there are some details every operator should be aware of. For instance…

  • It’s an offence to cover or obscure front or rear windows in your vehicles, so any dashcams must be positioned correctly. That’s why Sygnal provides a handy guide to setting up and placing your cameras with every purchase of a Sygnal dashcam.
  • As the operator, you are obligated to inform passengers that you have recording equipment on board. This can be done easily, however, with the addition of a clearly displayed vinyl sticker on your vehicles.
  • Not every insurer will agree to use dashcam footage in a claim, particularly if the footage only provides a one-sided view of the incident. Of course, having a dashcam system is still a better option than not having any kind of footage protection.

Even with these considerations, dashcams are an invaluable investment for your coach company. With Sygnal’s centralised onboard CCTV system, operators can monitor footage from all of their vehicles and roll-out updates at the click of a button. Likewise, footage can be downloaded and stored on an external device as and when it’s needed.

To see the full range of Sygnal products and packages, click here. To find out more about installing dashcams on your coach fleet, get in touch with Sygnal today.

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Women using secure public WiFi on a bus

Cost or connection? Modern bus passengers shouldn’t have to choose

By | Coach operator, Feature, Passenger Wifi | No Comments

At the risk of stating the obvious, we live quite the connected existence in 2018. These days, connectivity is deemed as essential an amenity as electricity, running water and gluten-free alternatives at breakfast. Our craving for internet access is intensified when we’re required to remain in the same place with no other means of distraction. Companies unwilling or unable to provide this access are finding more and more that customers will look elsewhere.

For transport companies, this should come as no surprise. Passengers expect onboard WiFi as a standard feature on their journeys. Local bus and coach operators, however, often feel that to provide WiFi will mean an increase in fares. Every onboard amenity, after all, costs money. But there is another way – providing companies have the tools to optimise their connectivity. Thankfully, Sygnal provides more than just onboard WiFi; it also gives operators the means to reduce operational costs and improve overall service.

Enriching the passenger journey

What’s the most important element of a transport service to passengers? It used to be that you could sum up the passenger’s expectation for a transport service in three words: Convenience, comfort and cost. But in the past few years, a new word has crept into the passenger lexicon; connection.

That’s why onboard WiFi is such an essential amenity. Not only do passengers expect it, but they will also actively criticise those companies that don’t provide it. Perhaps even worse than not providing any kind of connectivity, however, is providing subpar WiFi. The fear of providing an intermittent or slow connection (and being pilloried in subsequent reviews) keeps many operators from committing to an onboard WiFi subscription. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Sygnal’s onboard WiFi is designed to maintain constant connection wherever your vehicles are. On the rare occasions when there really is no means of connection, Sygnal WiFi caches key web pages to ensure passengers still have the power to browse.

Woman using onboard technologies to browse bus WiFi

Optimising the travel experience

Onboard WiFi can increase convenience for passengers by shortening journey times through intelligent route optimisation. Simultaneously, part of developing a reliable service lies in keeping passengers up-to-date on the latest information about their journey. With onboard WiFi, passengers can track their journey through location apps like Google Maps. Alternatively, you can integrate an in-journey information system to keep passengers completely up-to-date through on-board screens.

With additional options for mobile ticketing, operators and passengers can enjoy a raft of benefits. As an operator, a move to ticketing through digital channels frees you from the cost and inconvenience of paper tickets. Of course, onboard technologies aren’t always about saving money – they’re also vital to improving the travel experience. For passengers, M-ticketing can expedite the boarding process, making journeys shorter and more efficient. This might not save your coach company money, but it will increase passenger loyalty, which means more return custom.

Using onboard WiFi as a passenger

Cutting costs with connection

Of course, onboard integrations like passenger WiFi, GPS and CCTV incur some additional costs. But connection comes with a range of additional features to reduce company overheads.

Coach companies have a variety of outgoing costs. As a major monthly expenditure, fuel consumption is a major concern for every operator. Engine monitoring captures the raw data behind the behaviour of a vehicle and provides solutions to how this behaviour could be optimised. By studying when and where an engine sits idle, operators can develop procedures to reduce vehicle inertia and optimise journeys.

Likewise, using GPS to monitor the progress of your vehicles on specific routes enables you to better comprehend where coaches are experiencing delays. The data gathered from your GPS can then shape new routes and save your coach company on fuel consumption.

Using onboard WiFi to improve accessibility on transport

WiFi = Additional revenue streams

Onboard WiFi isn’t simply a tool for passengers to pass the time. It’s a direct line through which you can engage with passengers on a deeper personal level (within the bounds of GDPR, of course). Just as social media channels offer personalised promotions through their platforms, you can promote relevant businesses direct to your passengers.

That’s right, your onboard WiFi can also provide an additional revenue source through personalised advertising. The Sygnal Portal allows you to upload multiple ad-types from local businesses. With options to customise ads according to journey, time and transport companies can deliver personalised, locally relevant promotions at the push of a button.

The analytics gained through your Sygnal Portal can also inform ad-pricing and give you additional leverage when sourcing new advertisers. Through these advertising deals, you can offset costs while providing a valuable platform to businesses on a local and national level.

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In-journey information screen as part of a centralised onboard technologies package

The power of centralised onboard technologies

By | Coach operator, Sygnal Bites, Technology | No Comments

These days, almost every transport network has some kind of onboard technology. Be it onboard WiFi, CCTV, dashcams or GPS. But the steady evolution of new innovations has led operators to collect a hodge-podge of technologies with little or no clear connection to each other. This means operators end up paying several different monthly bills to different companies. Not only does this mean more work for the operators, but it also denies companies access to a complete picture of their daily processes. With a suite of centralised onboard technologies, however, transport networks can remotely manage their onboard footage and monitor WiFi usage through one system.

Unify technologies to improve efficiency

Transport technologies are a rapidly developing industry, with more operators acknowledging that amenities like onboard WiFi are now an essential feature for journeys. With a huge range of companies and technologies from which to choose, new features are purchased and introduced as and when they can be. This, in turn, has resulted in vehicles packed with a collection of disparate technologies with little or no means of communicating with each other.

That’s bad news for passengers and operators alike. Operators miss out on the valuable insights gained from seeing every element of their service together in one place, while passengers lose out on an improved service. With a centralised platform for onboard services, operators gain a comprehensive overview of services. That’s why every Sygnal package offers a completely integrated system, where all your onboard technologies can be consolidated under one platform.

CCTV on bus and coach hire

Standardise to save time

Put simply, integrating your current onboard technologies into one platform saves you time and money. Many smaller coach and bus companies operate on thin margins. That’s not to mention the added headache that comes with managing multiple accounts to different companies. Paying separate companies for your CCTV, onboard WiFi, fleet tracking and any other technology you use is time-consuming and can lead to missed payments. By managing all of your onboard devices through one platform, you have the opportunity to focus on running your business and improving services.

Operators using Sygnal’s centralised onboard technologies can relax in the knowledge that their assortment of technologies is covered under one statement. With a range of packages available for companies of every size, Sygnal enables operators to focus on optimising their services and taking advantage of the data insights afforded through the Sygnal Portal.

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Say goodbye to data silos

Across every industry, data has become an invaluable tool to steer marketing campaigns and shape services. But, just as in every industry, transport operators often gather their data from a myriad of different sources. This presents a serious challenge when comparing analytics from the different areas of your company.

Data silos tend to develop naturally in any organisation. Of course, even in relatively small companies, different departments, services and even vehicles can serve a unique purpose. Between these roles, with their contrasting responsibilities, it’s inevitable that data blind-spots will develop.

By centralising onboard technologies through a dedicated platform, you can avoid data-gaps and draw more nuanced conclusions from your customer base. For instance, if you know your onboard WiFi is lagging on certain routes, you can compare these routes to the data from your onboard GPS. You can then consider installing WiFi-booster antenna to expand coverage on specific vehicles. Likewise, if the metrics reveal a significant increase in data consumption for a specific time of day, you can compare these high-traffic points with the number of passengers that boarded through your mobile-ticketing system and increase bandwidth for key times.

Laptop with centralised onboard technologies dashboard

If transport companies want to truly optimise their service, technologies must be configured to operate as a cohesive unit. The Sygnal Portal provides dedicated access to every element of your onboard technologies, enabling key staff members from every department to create a complete picture of where the business thrives, and more crucially, where it falls short.

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Using onboard WiFi to improve accessibility on transport

Increasing your bottom line through passenger WiFi

By | Coach operator, Onboard advertising, Passenger Wifi, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

Aside from providing additional value to your coach hire company, onboard WiFi provides a direct line to your passengers through their personal devices. This connection comes with its own obligations, but, when used responsibly, it also presents a unique opportunity to engage with your customers like never before.

Direct promotion

As old as the internet itself, online advertising offers a platform to engage with a huge audience, with the added value of gaining access to valuable information on the demographics, browsing behaviour and brand preferences of your audience.

Through the Sygnal Portal, transport networks can gain additional revenue streams by sourcing promotional content from relevant advertisers and promoting it through the passenger WiFi.

Because Sygnal enables ads to be customised according to the journey, transport operators can deliver personalised, locally relevant promotions at the push of a button.

Man using his smartphone on a coach hire service

Sourcing advertisers

If you’re not sure where to start finding advertisers, Sygnal is on hand to help you source local and national businesses. Valuable statistics gained from Sygnal server analytics can also help inform your pricing and add leverage to negotiations. Approaching an advertiser with analytics showing over 1000 unique visitors used your WiFi within the past month represents a better proposition than simply offering information on passenger numbers.

For large, multi-region transport operators, Sygnal can help source local businesses for relevant route-specific promotions. Running regular routes between London and Edinburgh, for example, provides a unique opportunity to promote bars, restaurants, live venues and even hotels in the English and Scottish capitals.

Woman using onboard technologies to browse bus WiFi

The Sygnal ad-platform

The ad-management section of the Sygnal Portal is simple and intuitive, allowing your team to upload, edit and push new ads direct to passengers.

The Portal comes with the option to choose from a variety of different ad-formats and upload images, video and text to your Sygnal servers.

Because passengers gain access to promotions through their personal device, they can keep the information on hand when they step off your vehicle.  That’s why the Sygnal Portal comes with the option to include business locations within an ad, enabling passengers to step off and – providing they have data and GPS on their own device – make their way directly to the promotion.

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Man using his smartphone on a coach hire service

Using your bus WiFi abroad: The smart guide

By | Coach operator, Coach Tour, International travel, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

As a coach operator, it’s important to ensure passengers can always access their favourite sites. This often leads to questions from customers about what happens when their vehicles leave the UK. Using onboard WiFi overseas can present its own unique set of challenges, but for every issue, there are a number of solutions.

Thankfully, Sygnal provides rapid, unlimited WiFi anywhere in the EU, at no extra cost to the coach operator or their passengers. For the privacy and security of Sygnal users, all internet traffic is routed through UK servers. This means all data provided by the Sygnal server, even when received through different providers across the EU, will be subject to UK regulations.

Even if your coach is scheduled to cross international borders (for instance, between the Alpine regions of France, Germany, Italy, etc.) there should be no loss of network coverage as the Sygnal Server switches between different network providers. Any disruption would be most likely attributable to the coach passing through an area of poor coverage, rather than to the transition between different countries. If a server does experience any issues, Sygnal servers will maintain a cache of popular sites to ensure accessibility.

Using bus wifi abroad to improve accessibility on transport

Even with international network compatibility, however, it’s important to know the different website restrictions in each country before providing passengers with bus WiFi abroad.

To prevent bandwidth throttling, Sygnal servers restrict access to video streaming sites. These are often the sites where content can be restricted, so any restrictions placed upon video content by specific countries should have minimal impact on the passenger’s browsing experience.

To find out more about using your onboard bus & coach WiFi abroad, click here.

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