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Increasing accessibility for passengers on transport

A guide to increasing accessibility on your coach service

By | Accessibility, Coach hire, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

The past few years have seen some major improvements in accessibility on transport. The Equality Act guarantees that transport providers will make reasonable adjustments for disabled passengers, while a 2017 supreme court judgment pledged to increase rights for wheelchair users on bus travel.

Private coach companies, however, are still lagging behind in providing safe, comfortable travel for everyone. This is a major issue for disabled people, not to mention a negative reflection on the industry as a whole. After all, if travel isn’t open to everyone, passengers will begin to look elsewhere. Thankfully, there’s a glut of new solutions to improve your own company’s standards of accessibility. Read on for some simple but effective tips to increase accessibility on your vehicles and create a more inclusive travel experience for everyone.

Integrating accessible features

Most coach companies rent or buy their coaches, and so have little say in the design features. However, should you be in a position to have some input in the layout onboard your coaches, there are some key features to consider in order to optimise accessibility.

For starters, make sure stop buttons are within reach for everyone. Placing clear, height-appropriate buttons that allow passengers to alert the driver – whether to stop the bus or for assistance – should be a no-brainer, and go hand in hand with support rails/handles that should be included as standard. Secondly, try to dedicate the front few rows on your coach to priority seating. This doesn’t mean the seating has to be entirely off-limits to other passengers. Instead, ensure signs are clearly displayed alerting passengers that they will be asked to move in the event a disabled passenger requires a seat.  

It’s vital to include ample space for at least one wheelchair in the seating layout. Likewise, extendable ramps are essential to enable passengers with mobility issues to board, while in-built wheelchair lifts can be crucial to a safe and efficient boarding process.

Using passenger wifi to improve accessibility on transport

Pre-trip

When taking steps to improve accessibility on your coach service, the first aspect to consider is often the most overlooked. Before passengers begin to use your service, they’ll likely take a look at your website. That’s why it’s vital your website lays out exactly what amenities you have available to assist passengers with disabilities. Remember, clarity is key to avoiding complaints.

Many transport networks now include an option to specify in advance if any passengers have a disability. This way, the transport providers can prepare vehicles and staff in advance to ensure a simple, straightforward boarding process for everyone.

Before sending new drivers out on the road, make sure they know the protocol for boarding passengers with disabilities and mobility issues. Even if you have access for wheelchairs and mobility scooters on your coaches, you must be clear if there are other restrictions for onboard amenities. Are the toilets accessible? Are there adequate safety precautions in place in the event of an evacuation? By being up-front, you can avoid disappointed passengers and maintain brand trust.

Increasing accessibility on your coach service
Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Boarding

Buses are the most commonly used type of public transport by Londoners with disabilities; with 91% of learning disabled Londoners stating that they use buses regularly over a 12-month period.

When it comes to boarding your transport, the requirements differ from passenger to passenger. For drivers, it’s important to respect the individual requirements and wishes of each passenger. Some people prefer to be boarded first in order to secure a seat, while others may ask to board after everyone else.

The Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) 2002 require bus drivers to provide reasonable assistance to disabled people, including wheelchair users, to board and alight. While these regulations only apply to vehicles regulated under the PSVAR, bus companies from all parts of the industry should consider adopting these practices for vehicles.

There are also a number of initiatives underway to educate drivers and members of the public in how best to assist disabled passengers. Training days, in which recognised accessibility advocates talk your staff through the different forms of assistance to offer passengers, can go a long way to clearing up the confusion.

Using technology to improve accessibility on your coach service

Recognising hidden disabilities

Of course, there are many different forms of disability, some of which aren’t immediately obvious. Some passengers may have hearing aids or be partially sighted. Similarly, passengers with learning disabilities may face problems in navigating timetables and fare information. Others may suffer from muscular issues that don’t require a wheelchair but will still require a ramp and a seat close to the front of the bus.

Initiatives to increase awareness around these ‘hidden disabilities’ have gained momentum in the past decade (including the Blue Badge program in the UK), but coach companies are not necessarily bound to recognise these symbols. Instead, it’s important to ensure your drivers are aware in advance of any requirements. If this isn’t possible, then even a simple instruction to make any requirements known to the driver at the point of boarding can allow everyone to board safely.

Increasing accessibility on your coach service through a badge scheme

In-journey support

Clearly identify the disabled seating locations on your vehicles, with disclaimers explaining that non-disabled passengers may be expected to vacate their seat in the event it is needed by somebody with a disability. Drivers play a key role in ensuring these practices are maintained, so make sure every member of your team is aware of the protocol.  

Additionally, new technologies are stepping in to provide additional support to passengers with hearing and sight difficulties. We’ve talked before about the potential of tech like the vibrating wristband to aid passengers with hearing and visual impairments, but the simplest solution for transport companies could lie in integrating with existing technologies. In California, for instance, researchers developed an app to help blind bus passengers navigate routes to their destination. The app doesn’t even require GPS, needing only a WiFi connection. The app alerts passengers to where to go for a specific service and them alerts them in advance when they’re approaching their stop. Even Google Maps now comes with an option to alert passengers when they are approaching their stop.

Of course, many coach companies may find such integrations costly and unnecessary, particularly if they run a ‘one-stop’ single destination service. That doesn’t mean, however, that, they shouldn’t consider methods to make journey’s easier and more accessible. For instance, the Assist-Mi app allows passengers to request assistance on arrival. Provided coach companies can accurately state where their service will terminate, passengers can schedule assistance to be waiting for them when they arrive. Of course, if the coach company wanted to go the extra mile in their service, they could integrate options for passengers in need of assistance to automatically contact the Assist-mi app. In doing so, passengers could be assured of assistance on arrival and the coach company could further build their reputation as an innovative business that’s accessible to all.

Adding a boarding ramp to increase accessibility on your coach service

Of course, people with disabilities just want the same things as any other passenger – to be treated with respect and dignity and to be assured of the same level of accessibility as everyone else. If your drivers and facilities are capable of ensuring this, your transport network will earn its status as a safe, comfortable and inclusive organisation.

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Creating your own onboard transport technology package

Domestic tourism is on the rise: How can coach tour companies capitalise?

By | Coach hire, Sygnal Bites, Tourism | No Comments

According to recent World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) figures, UK travel and tourism grew at four times the rate of the country’s economy in 2017. Likewise, small businesses catering for holidaymakers saw turnover jump 8.3 per cent in the first half of 2017.

In short, domestic tourism in the UK is on the rise once again. This is good news for the UK economy as a whole, but particularly for the hospitality and transport industries. With more UK citizens looking to their own backyard for travel opportunities, transport networks are in a unique position to capitalise. For coach hire and tour companies, it’s an opportunity that can’t be passed up.

Several factors have contributed to the boost in domestic tourism, including:

  • The drop in the value of the pound following the Brexit vote
  • An increased awareness of the cultural/historically significant UK attractions thanks to TV shows and movies
  • The threat of terrorism
  • A growing backlash against ‘global tourism’ in popular tourist cities
  • A rise in the cost of holidays abroad following the introduction of the ‘tourist tax’
  • Greater investment in local attractions

Of course, these factors are liable to change in time. That’s why coach companies would do well to make use of the opportunities now, or, as the saying goes, make hay while the sun shines.

Retrofitting your public transport

The top UK attractions

Great Britain boasts several popular attractions for local and overseas tourists. Some of the top attractions include:

  • The British Museum
  • The National Gallery
  • The Natural History Museum
  • The Scottish Highlands
  • Northern Ireland
  • London
  • Chester Zoo
  • The Lake District
  • Theme parks, including Drayton Manor, Alton Towers, and Legoland Windsor

Coach companies have an opportunity to take advantage of the boost in domestic tourism, providing they’re willing to make use of the latest technology to streamline the travel process and stand out from the competition.

Domestic tourism trips t the British Museum
Photo courtesy of Ham GNU Free Documentation License 

Domestic tourism in numbers

In 2017, residents took 100.6 million overnight trips in England, totalling 299 million nights away from home and expenditure of £19 billion. Unsurprisingly, the car was the preferred form of transport, with 76% opting to drive themselves for overnight trips and 65% of day trips. In 2017, British residents took 100.6 million overnight trips in England, totalling 299 million nights away from home and expenditure of £19 billion, with an average trip length of 3 nights.

Public transport was used in 20% of overnight trips and 23% of day trips. The majority of these trips were by train – 15% of overnight trips and 10% of day trips, while regular bus services were used in just 8% of day trips and only 2% of overnight trips.

Meanwhile, organised coach tours were used in 2% of overnight trips and 1% of day trips in 2017.

Over half of trips made by public transport are to a large city or town (56%). However, in terms of the region from which the traveller comes, there is little difference for both public transport and car transport to the national profile. Meanwhile, 47.2 million holiday trips were taken in England last year, 6% higher than in 2016.

Of course, these numbers only paint half the picture. They don’t explore what people do whilst they’re holidaying, and, more importantly, how travel companies can take advantage of the staycations new-found popularity.

Public transport vs. ride-sharing in London

Capitalising on domestic tourism

For coach tour companies,  for ways to take advantage of the latest tourism trends? You’re going to need a keen eye for the most popular spots, not to mention some social media savvy to get your marketing out there.

Understanding your passenger

First and foremost, of course, you have to understand your target demographic. Comparing the metrics from your site analytics alongside data from your bookings, allows you to build a detailed understanding of your customer base. These ‘demographic snapshots’ should inform the kind of tours and routes you run.

For instance, travel companies that specialise in providing tours to the 18-30 bracket have found real success in running tours based around popular TV and film themes. ‘Game of Thrones’ tours have become hugely popular in Northern Ireland, while tours of the Scottish Highlands increased significantly following the release of the James Bond film Skyfall, much of which was set around Glencoe and nearby Glen Etive.

Likewise, offering deals on transport for popular festivals can lead to an uptick in the number of young adults using your service. With so many festivals around the UK, there’s no shortage of opportunities for coach hire businesses (just make sure you take a cleaning deposit before letting the revellers at Glastonbury back on your coach).

Train on viaduct Explore Scotland by train

Marketing your services

Of course, in order to entice new passengers, you first have to reach them with your message. As mentioned above, the type of tour you’re looking to run will play a key role in defining the kind of passenger you hope to attract, and the same goes for the channels you use to engage with them.

For youth-oriented trips, social media channels like Twitter and Facebook can be a great way to find new customers. Online ad-platforms like Google Adwords can also play a key role in winning new customers, especially when combined with information garnered from analytics tools. By selecting specific regions and age groups based on the kind of visitors to your site, you can hone in on specific markets and increase your overall uptake.

Knowing when to market specific services is also crucial to optimise your reach. The summer season is one of the best times to push promotions for festival transport services. Look at the kinds of festivals and seasonal events on at different times. Visitors will usually search for transport services a few months in advance of the event, so make sure you have a marketing schedule in place well before the major dates.

For tours aimed at families, traditional media and online promotions are a dependable avenue of new custom. If your promotions can offer discounts for children under a certain age, you stand even more chance of being able to tempt parents away from using their own vehicles.

Using Analytics to increase your domestic tourism marketing range
Image courtesy of Senior Living

Developing transport networks

With more UK tourists opting for a holiday in their own backyard, travel companies have an opportunity to experiment with new technologies in the pursuit of a truly unified travel experience. Coach companies, in particular, can benefit from developing relationships with other forms of transport to streamline journeys.

Multimodal travel, the unification of myriad transport modes under one easy to navigate system. For coach companies, the opportunity lies in linking up with local taxi firms, bike sharing companies and even sightseeing tours to provide additional transport in new cities and towns. In this way, passengers can explore further and utilise end-to-end transport. This approach isn’t just good news for the passenger. The relationships developed between different transport networks can be mutually beneficial for both sides of the business partnership. Local transport firms gain more custom from the passengers you bring in, while your coach tour benefits from providing a turnkey transport service.

Tour bus travelling along Scottish Highland road

Cultivating business partnerships

Just as partnerships with other transport networks can benefit your coach company, partnerships with local venues can play a part in building brand loyalty. Promotional deals on meals, attractions and accommodation add an extra incentive to passengers to book through you while enabling you to further curate the holiday experience. By creating relationships with trusted local businesses, coach companies can develop stronger relationships with their passengers while channelling more revenue into the local economy.

Of course, neither multimodal transport nor partnerships with local venues are limited to domestic tourists. But with tourists travelling from across the UK, this new trend for national holidays represents an opportunity to create a locally centred service that gives tourists a true reflection of the region while boosting the local economy.

Improving the environment

Just as domestic tourism is becoming a hot button in travel, sustainable tourism is finding a new audience. Travelling within the UK ticks many of the sustainable boxes, particularly if the traveller eschews air travel in favour of rail or road transport.

Of course, tourists and travel companies alike should strive to minimise their impact on a location, particularly if it’s a place of natural beauty. Coach tourism is one of the cleanest forms of transport. A coach carrying 50 passengers takes the place of more than 20 cars, freeing up space in car parks and improving travel times.

In order to successfully promote your coach service as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional transport, look at easily integrated technologies that can curb your vehicle’s emissions such as Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) units and Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF).

Using onboard wifi & GPS to navigate traffic

Domestic tourism represents a major opportunity for every type of transport in the UK. Increased tourism helps the local economy too, with domestic visitors on organised coach tours (day trips and overnight stays) spending £1.4 billion last year. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to reach the new wave of staycationers, you too could reap the benefits of the domestic tourism boom.

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Passengers on their smartphones

A guide to protecting passenger data using onboard WiFi

By | Data protection, Passenger Wifi, Sygnal Bites, Technology | No Comments

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be aware that data laws in Europe are changing with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The past few years have seen stories surface from every industry about companies using user data for purposes other than originally specified, and that’s exactly what GDPR is designed to bring an end to.

GDPR requires companies across every sector update the way they process and share personal data. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. As the UK information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham explained: “The GDPR is a step change for data protection,” she says. “It’s still an evolution, not a revolution”.

So while the new laws don’t mark a drastic change in the way companies handle data, updating outdated personal data laws across the EU has been long overdue. The previous data protection laws, brought into place in the ‘90s, have struggled to maintain pace with the developments of the past decade. It’s worth noting that it’s not just companies based in the EU that are subject to the new data protection regulations. GDPR isn’t directed at European companies but at the data and information of EU citizens. 

Man using his smartphone on a coach hire service

Data protection in transport

Of course, any company that provides WiFi as a secondary service will already have a data protection plan in place. For transport companies with onboard WiFi services, protecting the data of its passengers is essential to maintaining trust. For companies operating across EU countries (and even for those operating in the UK, providing services to EU citizens post-Brexit), it’s vital they ensure all of their services align with the new regulations.

In the transport industry, it’s essential when seeking permissions from passengers to be transparent in what data is gathered and how it’s used. Transport networks can ensure this by updating their terms & conditions on the initial login page. These T&C’s must also provide clear instructions on how passengers can opt-out of providing this data at any time.

Providing they agree to some form of data gathering, it must not fall into the category of personal data, which includes:

  • Basic information such as name, address and ID numbers
  • Web data such as IP addresses and cookie data, Health, biometric and genetic data
  • Racial, ethnic and sexual orientation
  • Political opinions, religious beliefs, and union memberships

Prior to GDPR, companies still had to adhere to collecting only depersonalised information. Transport companies such as Transport for London (TfL) gather information like an encrypted version of the device MAC address, the date and time the device broadcast its MAC address, the access point it’s connected to, the device manufacturer and the device association type.

Commuters using smartphones while travelling on the subway

Protecting passenger privacy

Of course, protecting passenger data should be an integral aim of any company. Numerous data scandals have weakened the public’s faith in corporations’ ability (or willingness) to use their data responsibly. In transport, where thousands of passengers can connect for a short period every day, the need to maintain an open and transparent data-collection process is just as vital. After all, when passengers can trust the company they are travelling with is using their data responsibly, they’ll be more likely to consent to provide it.

The anonymised data gathered through onboard WiFi use can be useful for both passengers and transport companies. Bus and coach networks can use it to better understand the passenger journey, which can then go on to inform schedules, routes and the size of vehicles. Meanwhile, passengers can benefit from the increased efficacy of routes and enjoy wider access to different services. With GDPR in effect, passengers will need to specify the kind of data you can gather, but this doesn’t necessarily mean transport networks will have access to less information.

One of the most significant aspects of the new data protection rules; if there is a data breach of one of your customers, all parties responsible must report the breach within 72 hours to relevant authorities. A breach is defined as any loss, alteration or unauthorised access of personal data.

Always seek permission

GDPR explicitly forbids restricting access to a wireless network on the basis of a customer providing personal data. That means wireless network services must be provided without the condition of providing personal data.

The central aim of GDPR is to prevent companies from providing the personal data of its users to third party marketing companies, without first seeking consent. Consent can only be given when the user is provided with specific, clear information on how this data will be used.

For passengers, the new GDPR rules will likely have little effect on the overall browsing experience. Users will be asked to decide the amount of data they wish to provide when they first connect. With their chosen settings, passengers can enjoy secure browsing without the need to worry about who has access to their personal data.

Transport companies have an array of tools to make their business data compliant. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website includes a section on understanding GDPR with a dedicated advice line. The ICO also includes a handy document on GDPR guidance and a ‘lawful basis’ tool that aims to give businesses tailored guidance on the legal basis’ for the different data processing protocols.

Woman using smartphone airline app to book flights

What it means for your business

Of course, companies that previously relied on revenue gained from third-party marketing companies to offset the cost of providing WiFi will now no longer be able to do so. Whilst some wifi providers have a case for processing some user data, public transport networks rarely fall under this category.

On first glance, the options for transport networks looking to provide WiFi are extremely limited:

  • Provide WiFi on a pay-to-use basis
  • Continue to provide WiFi without the benefit of revenue from third-party marketing companies
  • Stop providing WiFi altogether

While none of these options is ideal, they aren’t the only choices available. The introduction of GDPR has seen an uptick in the use of Federated Identity Management (FIM) technology among public Wi-Fi providers. FIM relies on an independent common federated authority to manage the identity of a user. With no need to store any customer data, FIM offers a solution to WiFi providers looking for cost-effective GDPR compliance.

Using mobile ticketing service on public transport

Besides this, transport networks can still gain valuable insights from anonymised metrics. Providing passengers consent to non-personal data-gathering through your WiFi, you can use that data to better understand elements like:

  • The average number of users at key times
  • The average browsing time
  • Onboard data usage
  • Mobile ticketing uptake

The insights gained through these diverse datasets can go on to improve passenger experiences and ultimately develop a more streamlined, passenger-focused service; and that’s something everyone can agree to.

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Optimising your coach hire website to increase bookings

Streamlining booking through your coach hire website

By | Booking, Coach hire, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

Your coach hire website is often the first port of call for new customers. It’s essential you make a powerful first impression and, above all, make the booking process as simple as possible.

Chartered bus journeys still lag behind other transport modes in terms of booking technology. As a coach hire operator, any improvements you make to the booking process will put you ahead of the competition.

Site layout

When it comes to your website, keeping it attractive and on-brand is a base requirement. You’ve also got to make it as simple to navigate as possible. After all, visitors are there for a reason – to see if you’re the right transport operator for them.

Think about how you engage with similar systems – when do you want information presented to you, and in what format? How many steps does it take for a potential customer to get from first clicking on your site to buy a ticket? Bear in mind that every step in the process increases the risk a visitor will go elsewhere.

Feature your call to action (CTA) buttons clearly throughout the website. If a visitor is in a rush to book, they could click out and look to another operator if they don’t see a link to your booking immediately. Likewise, a progress bar is a good way of breaking down the booking process into manageable steps and keeping visitors on-site.

Above all else – build a site that works for your customer base. This means regularly updating your site according to what works. Check your Google Analytics for bounce rates, click-throughs and conversions. For customers, booking coach transport online often requires complex coordination with multiple parties. The simpler a task you can make it, the more likely they are to book again.

Woman using smartphone airline app to book flights

Payment

Providing intuitive payment is integral to the online bookings process. Visitors to your site want to place payments quickly and securely. Customers should immediately receive a confirmation of purchase email along with all relevant details regarding the trip.

It’s vital you use an established, trusted payment platform for all bookings. The more options for payment you include, the more likely a visitor to your site will book with you. Most transport companies now include an option to pay through a trusted online payment platform like Paypal, alongside options for card payment or using cash on the day.

As with all online payment processes, the most important element is security. Assure visitors their payments are managed through a secure payment platform. The secure approach won’t streamline bookings, but it will increase the likelihood that visitors book with you again.

Mobile

OK, it’s 2018 – you really have no excuse for having a site not optimised for mobile. After all, 85% of travellers use mobile devices to book travel activities, while 66% prefer to use their smartphones, rather than their desktops, for travel research.

When it comes to booking tickets online, however, travellers are often wary of completing transactions through their mobile. Only 30% are made on mobile devices, although this figure is increasing at a rate of 1% per quarter. A key reason for the reticence of visitors to book through mobile is the difficulty in entering details into a mobile device. Transport companies can overcome this through direct booking portals – taking the customer direct to the booking page in one click.

Additionally, a mobile app can have a dramatic impact on sales. While coach bookings are still higher from a mobile browser than an app, figures suggest if the service is used regularly, an app can lead to an uptick in bookings. The popularity of the mobile app for coach hire bookings is down, in large part, to the single-entry format for details. Saving payment and passenger details for future bookings spares visitors the rigmarole of typing out the same information each time.

Using your mobile smartphone device on public transport

Tickets

In 2018, passengers expect you to have some kind of mobile ticketing system in place. If your coach transport doesn’t yet have any kind of mTicketing hardware onboard, implementing an email coding system can work. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that these onboard checks take up valuable time and aren’t 100% reliable.

Likewise, trusting passengers to print their own tickets from an email, featuring either a numerical or QR code, relies on passengers remembering their print-off. As any coach operator will tell you, there are inevitably forgotten or mislaid tickets, leading to delays and unsatisfied customers.

Similarly, it’s important to understand your customer base. If the majority of your trips involve tours for over-65s, a mobile-only ticketing system is more likely to cause issues than tours intended for the 18-30 market.

Personalisation

Personalisation is key to providing a streamlined service in transport. A personalised response not only lets a return visitor know you recognise them, but it can also simplify bookings and give you a better understanding of their behaviour and booking habits. Personalisation software can even go so far as to suggest relevant offers to returning travellers. This allows you to flag-up additional features requested in their last booking and creates more opportunities for up-selling.

Personalisation is all about understanding your customer – which means more than simply as a customer. From where do they usually log-on?? What device do they typically use to browse your site? Discovering the preferences of your visitors allows you to cater your approach and develop a clearer understanding of how to engage with them in future interactions.

Increasing accessibility on your coach service

There are a number of solutions to improve the booking experience on your coach hire website. Every solution comes with its own unique opportunities and challenges. It’s only through studying your passengers, routes and business model that you find the best solutions to streamline the booking process and encourage return custom.

Using your mobile smartphone device on public transport

Integrating mobile ticketing on your transport service

By | Passenger Wifi, Public Transport, Sygnal Bites, Technology | No Comments

Mobile tickets, otherwise known as mTickets, are fast becoming a popular onboard technology for transport networks. But what are the benefits of switching to mobile ticketing, and can they be integrated into your network without disrupting services?

What does it mean for payments?

Payment systems can be set up easily through online payment platforms like Stripe, Braintree or Paypal. The cost of payments to transport companies is minimal, and can actually reduce overall costs. Additionally,  companies can centralise their revenues and better track how variant factors like national holidays, sporting events and even weather conditions can affect takings.

Providing all revenues go through a secure platform, online payments can reduce the risk of passengers underpaying or providing outdated and obsolete currency.

Onboard WiFi for mobile ticketing

Of course, passengers won’t use WiFi to load their ticket before they board, largely because WiFi becomes available when they board and waiting for everyone to load their tickets would add too much time to the boarding process.

However, the mobile ticketing machine can connect to the Sygnal server, which in turn communicates with a database back at the bus HQ to ensure all passenger information is up-to-date.

That’s why more transport companies today opt for an app, in which new tickets can be activated and cached beforehand. In this way, passengers can download their latest ticket before leaving the house, ready to show to the driver or scan through an m-ticketing machine.

For passengers, downloading tickets in advance enables them to check times and avoid using data. The same app can be used onboard (using Sygnal onboard WiFi, of course) for anything from real-time journey information to the latest ticket deals.

Using mobile ticketing service on public transport

Using mobile ticketing to reduce costs and drive revenues

Of course, adding m-Ticketing can be a daunting prospect to bus and coach companies, but it doesn’t have to be a disruptive addition. Many transport companies have opted to retain the ‘ticket on sight’ system, whereby passengers simply show the driver their ticket. Providing tickets are purchased through an app system, this won’t prevent companies from gathering data on the type of tickets purchased, at what time and by whom.

When a company does integrate mTicketing into their business, the rewards can be significant. Companies use less paper without the need to print tickets onboard. Less fuel is wasted as people don’t have to look for cash, which also benefits the environment.

With the addition of a mobile app, transport networks can more easily keep track of who’s using their services and offer personalised deals. For instance, if a bus company sees that someone commutes every morning and night, they can target that customer directly through the app with a special weekly ticket offer.

Streamlining your coach service

Not only can mTicketing reduce overheads, it can also streamline other aspects of the service. Because mobile ticketing reduces waiting times, services become more punctual, encouraging more people to use the transport. Passengers can be updated on new developments, including delays to services, changes to routes and new offers.

As national transport networks shift to multimodal travel services, mobile ticketing will be an essential element of this cross-transport technology. Integrations with other forms of transport such as ride-sharing and metro services become simpler when all the required access tools are centralised. For a passenger arriving by train in a new city, a transport service that functions on the same platform as their train ticket will be infinitely more attractive than one that does not.

Passengers on public transport

Issues

Of course, with the introduction of any new technology, there will be challenges. It’s true that not everyone has a mobile, or access to the technology to regularly download tickets.

Some critics have suggested the introduction of mTicketing shuts out poorer people in society. However, mobile usage is roughly the same across all social groups, and the proliferation of WiFi in public spaces has made the connection required to download tickets more accessible than ever.

For those without a smartphone or whose smartphone breaks or runs out of battery, presenting a ticket can become more challenging. That’s why many companies retain some kind of paper or ‘flash pass’ ticketing system.

So while there may be some initial kinks to be ironed out introducing mobile ticketing, the long-term rewards make it worthwhile.

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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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Retrofitting your public transport

Using passenger WiFi in your international coach tours

By | Coach Tour, Passenger Wifi, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

If you run a tour company in the UK, you’ve probably grappled with the question of how best to accommodate overseas visitors. It’s a tricky task. Tour guides must be ready to adapt to new situations, answer any question and provide information on a huge range of subjects in a way that’s informative, fun and accessible to all.

Fortunately, there are tools to help the modern tour guide, and one of the most recent additions could also prove to be the most significant. Passenger WiFi is already transforming the travel industry, but its value as a device for adding new dimensions to coach tours has been largely overlooked.

For groups participating in guided tours, Sygnal’s onboard wireless server can provide tour information directly to passengers. Not only this, but any information can be delivered in a passenger’s native language through their personal devices. In this way, every passenger has the opportunity to enjoy the tour without the barrier of language difficulties. Passenger WiFi can add an interactive element to coach tours, allowing passengers to engage with materials through quizzes, polls and other activities.

Group sat on coach using onboard wifi

For coach tour companies in the Scottish Highlands, for instance, providing information on the different distilleries, attractions and historic landmarks become more inclusive when everybody is capable of digesting the information in the language they feel most comfortable with.

Sygnal’s onboard server also makes sharing supporting tour guide materials easier. Returning to the Scottish Highlands example, guides can enhance their tour with short, custom videos sent directly to the passengers’ phones. Will the tour involve a trip to a distillery? Share tour materials on anything from the history of whisky to the distillation process to whet the appetite of your passengers. Conducting a tour of Highland lochs? Provide short videos with language-specific subtitles to give passengers an insight into how the lochs were formed. These extra touches show you’re willing to go the extra mile for your customers, something that won’t be forgotten when it comes to their post-tour review.

Tour bus travelling along Scottish Highland road with passenger WiFi

Of course, the coach tour is all about taking in your surroundings. It’s understandable why tour operators want to avoid technologies that encourage passengers to look at their phones. But passenger WiFi isn’t meant to replace the traditional tour guide. By using passenger WiFi as a supporting tool, coach tour companies can enhance the travel experience and redefine the meaning of true hospitality.

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Using onboard wifi & GPS to navigate traffic

How can onboard WiFi assist in traffic navigation?

By | Smart transport, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

One of the biggest challenges facing mass transit today is effective route management. Traffic navigation is subject to so many influences, it might seem impossible to accurately predict how best to get around an urbanised area. But that’s not necessarily the case, thanks to the growth in data sharing, smart technology and, of course, vehicle tracking.

Optimised journeys with onboard WiFi

Unlike trains or planes, onboard WiFi for road transport, when coupled with GPS, can improve journey times and lead to route-changes that avoid dangers and delays. Sygnal’s vehicle tracking GPS software enables transport companies to identify traffic bottlenecks and devise potential re-routing solutions in real-time.

Of course, for set-journey transport, directing vehicles to alternative routes might be out of the question. That doesn’t mean, however, that action can’t be taken to alert drivers and passengers to the level of traffic they’re likely to encounter on their route. Through WiFi-based monitoring systems, drivers can use this information to inform passengers of expected arrival times and communicate with central-office for subsequent deployments.

It’s not just passengers that benefit from better communication on travel times. Sygnal’s inbuilt positioning software simplifies sharing data between vehicles. Drivers can alert each other to sudden changes in traffic – for instance, if a route has been blocked off or if there’s been an accident – and adjust their route accordingly.

Using onboard wifi for public transport fleet management

Besides the real-time benefits of using onboard WiFi for traffic navigation, the data gathered from tracking vehicle journeys can be used to manage routes according to passenger demand and reduce operational costs. Fleet analytics can tell companies everything from where a vehicle went to, at what time, at what speed it travelled, and how long it remained at certain locations. Increased accuracy with regards to arrival and departure times, particularly when that information can be communicated directly to a passenger/commuters personal device, builds brand trust and improves the overall journey experience.

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Using technology to improve accessibility on transport

Improving accessibility on transport with onboard WiFi

By | Accessibility, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

The past decade has seen a monumental shift in attitudes to accessibility in transport. After the launch of the Equality Act 2010, which stated that transport must be accessible to all, regardless of any disability, transport networks, particularly those within the road and rail sectors, woke up to the need for truly accessible transport.

Despite these improvements, there’s still work to be done to ensure every passenger enjoys the same level of access.

Accessibility in transport today

Features such as lowering ramps and designated spaces for wheelchairs have become commonplace since the introduction of the Equality Act 2010. Likewise, more transport networks than ever are allocating funds to onboard signs and announcements regarding upcoming stops. But public transport often still falls short of delivering a comprehensive, dignified service for disabled passengers.

Thankfully, new technologies are helping to close the gap and improve accessibility, with onboard wifi at the forefront of these innovations.

New technologies on the horizon

The growth in mobile technology has played a significant role in improving accessibility to public transport. For instance, many transport networks now have mobile apps to enable special mobile ticketing for passengers with accessibility requirements. The Transport for Edinburgh mobile app can announce the next stop on a route, provide walking directions to the nearest bus stop and, when a phone is pointed at a bus stop, state the stop’s name and the bus services that depart from there.

Through the inbuilt GPS of a Sygnal wifi server, buses can alert passengers to upcoming stops directly through their personal device. This is particularly useful for passengers with hearing and vision impairments, who might otherwise not be able to see when they’re approaching their desired stop. Likewise, onboard wifi can be used to 

Using technology to improve accessibility on transport

Increasing accessibility in public transport is a major challenge for transport companies in 2018. Any technology that can contribute to improving the experience for passengers with accessibility requirements should be embraced.

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