First Bus

Revolutionising Transport for 1.6M Daily First Bus Passengers

Innovative new features help First Bus passengers and staff.


First Bus


  • 55KmTickets sold daily
  • 100%contactless
  • 2.4Mdownloads in 2019
  • 4.7star rating

Awards & recognitions

  • Highly Commended: Tech for Good – 2021 Digital City Festival Awards
  • Highly Commended: Tech for Good – 2021 Digital City Festival Awards
  • Shortlisted: Most Effective Travel & Tourism Campaign or Solution – 2019 EMMAs
  • Shortlisted: Leisure, Travel, Sports & Entertainment Category – 2019 The Drum Mobile Awards

First Bus is one of the largest bus operators in the UK, with a fleet of 5,700 buses carrying 1.6M passengers daily (numbers before pandemic).

First Bus has embraced technology in order to vastly improve its customer experience. Future Platforms has been First Bus’ sole mobile partner since 2017.

During this partnership, we've delivered an industry-leading mobile solution for First Bus, including live seat and wheelchair capacity tracking developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These features have been praised by numerous disability charities and end-users.

The challenge

The initial brief was a simple one: improve the journey planning and ticket purchasing experience, making it easier, quicker, and more intuitive for commuters.

The original First Bus app required users to download two separate apps: one to buy tickets and one to plan journeys.

To offer a seamless experience, we completely overhauled the existing apps to provide a one-stop-shop for planning and ticket purchasing.

The app also includes capacity tracking, which allows end-users (commuters and drivers) to tell, in real-time, the seating and wheelchair capacity of each vehicle, making travel safer and more accessible. This has improved the user experience at every step of the journey, beyond planning and tickets.

This one unified mobile solution solves numerous end-user frustrations in one elegant stroke.

How we solved it

We conducted several user interviews across a wide range of participants to understand user needs and challenges. Our proposed solution was first tested on a small audience before full rollout to identify where improvements might be needed.

Users wanted a quick and easy booking experience, so we integrated the mTickets app into the core First Bus journey planner app to allow them to plan a trip from one platform.

The app also addresses another big commuter frustration: uncertainty around travel information. It displays accurate and updated live bus times so commuters can plan journeys accordingly.

Innovation at speed

In response to COVID-19, we delivered live seat and wheelchair capacity tracking that allow drivers and commuters to feel safe and in control of their journey, knowing when a bus is in danger of overcrowding.

Commuters can decide for themselves whether to embark the current bus or wait for the next one.

The app includes bus icons on the route map, detailing the live location and available capacity. The live departure board also shows how many seats and wheelchair spaces are available.

Cameras installed on buses provide a connected experience between the digital First Bus app and the physical space. Through face recognition, the cameras offer real-time red/amber/green availability.

This solution not only helps end-users socially distance but has made travel more accessible for wheelchair users. This has earned enormous praise from multiple disability charities:

Creating new habits to drive brand loyalty

The introduction of these features has resulted in the creation of daily habits that users have come to rely on (and will rely on) beyond the pandemic.

Commuters have developed more trust in the First Bus brand, and the app has become crucial to keep informed. As a result, the app's rating has improved from 4.6 to 4.7 stars and users feel safe using FirstGroup’s bus services.

We think that's pretty damn good. As one user stated:

“This app is shockingly good. Well laid, easy to use, refers you to the right info, and you can use the mobile tickets to get right onto a bus without faff.”

"This is a huge achievement to have completed so quickly and to such a high standard, and will genuinely help our customers in these troubled times. We’re the first bus operator to have achieved delivering live vehicle capacity to customers and proud to have been able to work with our partners, [including Future Platforms], to deliver this collaboratively."Owen HughesHead of Retail Development, First Bus