Revolutionising Transport for 1.6M Daily First Bus Passengers

Innovative new features help First Bus passengers and staff.

Client

First Bus

Service

Strategy Design Engineering
Future Platforms + First Bus

Outcomes

  • 55K mTickets are sold every day
  • 100% of buses now accept contactless payments
  • 2.4M app downloads in 2019 alone
  • 5700 buses carry 1.6M passengers, daily

Awards & recognitions

  • Shortlisted: Most Effective Travel & Tourism Campaign or Solution – 2019 EMMAs
  • Shortlisted: Leisure, Travel, Sports & Entertainment Category – 2019 The Drum Mobile Awards

Who is First Bus?

First Bus is part of the passenger transport services managed by FirstGroup, which collectively transported 2.1 billion passengers in 2019. First Bus alone carries 1.6 million passengers each day.

First Bus has ambitious plans to become an industry-leading passenger transport service, and has embraced technology in order to vastly improve its customer offerings. Future Platforms has been First Bus’ sole mobile partner since 2017. Since working together, Future Platforms has developed industry-leading mobile solutions for First Bus that have propelled the business ahead of its peers.

Brief

When FirstGroups first appointed Future Platforms as its mobile partner, the business had a simple aim of making its journey planning and ticket purchasing experience easier and quicker for its First Bus passengers.

The original app solution meant First Bus users had to download two separate apps: one to purchase tickets and one to plan their journeys.

First Bus wanted to offer a seamless, easy-to-use customer experience which is why Future Platforms was engaged to completely overhaul the existing apps. As well as providing one app solution, Future Platforms embarked on a journey to identify other features that improve the overall experience and save passengers time at the bus stop and beyond.

First Bus mobile solution app

Approach

Future Platforms set a goal of offering a seamless easy-to-use experience from A-B – not just the bus journey, but buying a ticket, getting to the bus stop, and arriving at the destination as well.

The team then identified other features that would improve the overall passenger experience and save them time at the bus stop, so that they could arrive at their destination completely hassle-free.

Future Platforms conducted numerous user research methods across a wide range of participants, sending its team to bus stops across three different cities. Diary studies were conducted (for Android and iOS) and a beta version of the app was tested with a small audience. This helped determine the usability and efficiency of the app, as well as identify minor features to fix ahead of rollout.

First Bus services are used by over 1.6M people every day across 6,200 buses, each behaving in its own separate way. Future Platforms had to ensure it had an in-depth, data-driven understanding of its users in order to develop an app that would bring true value to the business, its staff, and its passengers.

As well as providing a seamless app experience, we continually monitor and improve the app by introducing many innovative new features. The latest features were delivered in just four weeks and have been done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They include UK-first technology which allows passengers to tell, in real-time, the seating and wheelchair capacity of each vehicle. It gives bus drivers peace-of-mind too, as it notifies them if a bus is in danger of being overcrowded.

The pandemic has made the past year a challenging one for the transport industry but it has also inspired us to create some of our most innovative work yet, particularly the live seating feature for First Bus.

First Bus - mobile solutions

Outcome

The app now offers one unified mobile solution that solves passengers and staff frustrations in one elegant stroke.

To achieve this, the mTickets app was integrated into the core First Bus journey planner app, which would allow users to plan all aspects of their trip within one platform, making it an easy and quick booking experience.

One of the main commuter frustrations this app addresses is reliable information that is presented in real-time. To ensure accuracy of the app, it communicates with TAPI (Transport API), which FirstGroup provides. This allows the app to show the user accurate and updated live bus times to keep passengers happy.

While the app is a vast improvement to First Bus’ original offering, the most innovative features come from the rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bus route screen has been given a complete overhaul to address the current challenges the public is facing due to the pandemic.

The latest app updates, which were launched in June this year, include new bus icons on the route map detailing the live location and the available capacity of each vehicle, including wheelchair capacity. No other UK bus operator has integrated this kind of functionality into their app as of yet, so it is a tremendous achievement by Future Platforms and First Bus to be leaders in this space.

“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 Hughes Head of Retail Development, First Bus

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