For one of the largest public transport providers in the UK and North America, Q3 designed and developed a distributed rail and bus support system on android devices and handhelds. The web and mobile apps created were hosted on an internal enterprise app store with downloadable versions of all the apps and the client could now access information such as train schedules, train dwell times and staff audit reports with ease.
Passenger ticket validation was a cumbersome process before the clipper app for checking the tickets on the go was developed by Q3. Timely notifications for staff and ticket information to passengers on SMS/Email could now be sent conveniently. Daily dashboards, recording of arrival & departure, app to aide in addition of new buses into service based on demand and several other features were also incorporated.

Client Background

The client is the world’s leading transport operator in the UK running more than one in five of all local bus services. A fleet of nearly 8,500 buses carries 3 million passengers in more than 40 major towns and cities. In North America, the client operates across the US and Canada. The client’s partnership businesses include Yellow School Buses, Transit Contracting and Management Services, Vehicle Fleet Maintenance and Support Services.

Industry Landscape

The transportation industry is enormous, including everything from municipal bus, subway and commuter-train systems. Managing huge operations, solving problems on short notice and multitasking is the key feature of this Industry. Populations have moved away from rural areas into urban centers, and many people are switching from commuting with their cars to cheaper public transportation. The ongoing program plays a significant role in both the recent development and the future prospects of the transportation industry.

Opportunity

The Client was going through a business transformation and had undertaken a massive modernization and digitization program. Station staff & on-train customer service staff needed enhanced tools for latest information to serve passengers with better journey planning tools with on-station SMS/email capability and wanted to meet customer expectations related to travel information. New applications were needed to manage the smooth operations of buses. There were several thousand targeted users (station/bus stop/on-train staff) who required these new applications. They had a large UK workforce on the Android platform. A cloud platform and related mobile and web applications that could provide real-time data to their staff was needed.

Solution

Q3 provided a complete cloud hosted solution with all the customer assistance applications and rail replacement and bus management applications to meet the requirements of the client. One of the main features was the backup and disaster recovery planning i.e. nightly and weekly backup of application and database storage. Q3 also provided 24X7 Monitoring & Support services. The app suite included the following among many others:
Document Distribution: Important documents such as user manuals for drivers and safety instructions, etc. can be uploaded by the admin on this app and a sign off can be obtained from the reader. The app indicates who all downloaded and read the document, which further helps the client keep track of safety measures being practiced by the train and bus staff.
Smart Audit: The admin creates dynamic surveys or audit checklists for the staff (for cleaning, maintenance staff etc.). The staff also has a provision to upload pictures to report faults and can also score the survey about its relevance.
Clipper Application: This application enables the staff to check the passenger tickets on the go, both inside the trains and in the stations. The staff checks the validity and other details in the ticket by simply scanning the bar codes.
Smart Card Application: The smart cards used by the traveler can be loaded with multiple tickets (for different destinations and for different times). The app reads the chip on the smart card of the passenger and populates the details for the staff to check the number of tickets loaded into the card.
Dwell Time: The dwell times of trains on platforms and stations are reported using this app which help the client reduce dwell times and analyze delays, rush times on stations etc.
Fault Reporting: From the tedious manual fault report forms, the client switched to the web/mobile fault reporting app for the staff to report issues on the go. The staff can now upload images of the issue and the issue is then assigned to the vendor, thus, tracking of the fault and its solution also becomes easier and more efficient.
Passenger Count: This app helps take a count of the passengers and analyze when, where and in which class are more passengers travelling. This, in the long run, helps the client add more bogies/ buses for busy routes and busy times.

Customer Assistance: For trains, buses & ferries, the app shows real-time schedules by accessing the ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies) website and pushing timely train statuses. The staff can also plan an elaborate journey for the passengers using this app by sending, via SMS and email, the schedules/ stoppages enquired by the passenger.
This app suite is part of the App store where new versions are published and made available. The store also provides a dashboard for the higher management to check the usage of the apps. To optimize the user experience in the mobile apps, the lazy loading technique is used. Various third party APIs have been integrated in the solution which run on web browser, Android, iOS and Smartwatch.

Business Impact

The application is easy to handle and it helps the client to manage the business with less cost. It also provides a highly secured operation.
The application provides information to rail and bus services. Station staff & on-train customer service staff has latest information to serve passengers better.
The apps provided can be accessed anytime and from anywhere, and thus help save time for the client.