Category: Operators

Podcast – Can you easily edit schedules data for vehicle optimisation?​

Easily edit schedules data for vehicle optimisation

How easily can you edit schedules data for vehicle optimisation?​ One key capability of OmniBASE is the bus and crew graph which allows data to be viewed graphically. By being able to see data visually, the scheduler has a single viewpoint of the whole operation at any particular time of day and full flexibility to make adjustments on the screen to produce the most efficient result. Find out more in the podcast.

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Podcast – Does your scheduling software generate print-ready outputs?​

Does your scheduling software generate print-ready outputs

Can your scheduling software produce fully formatted outputs ready to print and issue such as driver duty cards and bus running boards? You can with OmniBASE and there’s no need to edit the outputs in a spreadsheet. ​OmniBASE offers over 60 templates available as duty cards or as bus running boards and they are produced direct to a printer or to a PDF generator. Find out more in the podcast.

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Cloud scheduling – How cloud migration is driving bus operator efficiency

cloud scheduling

Bus operators of all sizes are turning to cloud scheduling to gain a number of business advantages including enhanced data security, unlocking efficiencies and lowering operating costs.  

Software linked to local machines and servers can create difficulties when collaborating on work and sharing transport data. The cloud overcomes these challenges and opens new possibilities from easy access to systems from home or the office to enabling seamless scale-up. 

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind the digital transformation. 

cloud scheduling

Enhanced data security

Data loss is a real concern for bus operators. In fact, it is one of the main motivators for moving away from the traditional on-premise approach. Despite operators’ best efforts, files stored on local computers are more vulnerable to data loss for various reasons from user error to a cyberattack. Also, without an efficient way to share files, there is a risk that multiple versions of the same dataset can be created and data becoming out of sync. 

Storing data in the cloud maintains data integrity and guarantees it is always available, even if local hardware is damaged. With the cloud, data is managed in secured off-site locations with backups and operators can choose from different levels of built-in resilience to guard against threats. Plus, granular security features can be utilised, such as role-based access, to guarantee that data is securely accessed, stored and managed. 

Unlocking efficiencies

Cloud scheduling is not only a more secure way to store data but also makes it easier to access, collaborate on and share. Seamless collaboration removes the need to copy files to shared drives, which is time consuming and can be prone to errors. 

With all the schedules securely stored in the cloud, planning and publicity teams can operate simultaneously without stepping on each other’s toes. Schedulers can edit a colleague’s work without having to remember the latest version of a file or waste time searching for files. And managers can avoid confusion by having better visibility and monitoring of who did what and when. 

Having files in one place also means it is easier to consolidate data and have a full holistic view of the operation. Reports can be run over multiple schedules and or multiple timeframes to more easily compare key metrics. There is also the option to integrate with analysis tools to interrogate the data further through real-time management information and dashboards. 

Lower operating costs

Another key factor for migrating to the cloud is to reduce IT and infrastructure costs. Managing local software installs is a manual and time-intensive task, particularly for larger operators. It is also inconvenient for operators’ IT teams as software updates need to be done on each machine where the application is installed. 

A cloud environment not only meets the latest internet security standards, but updates are managed automatically and off-site by the solutions provider. The huge advantage of this for operators is that they will always have the most up-to-date version of the software as soon as it is released. This tremendously reduces the pressure on operators’ IT teams of maintaining and updating applications across the organisation. System users also benefit. With minimal downtime, they can continue focusing their time and effort on fulfilling their work without having to wait for an IT technician to perform a critical function. 

Finally, cloud scheduling also removes the need for local fileservers or data storage. This reduces the provision, management and maintenance of on-site IT infrastructure, saving valuable time and cost. 

How Omnibus can help

Omnibus, part of the EPM Group, provides cloud scheduling and operations solutions, enabling bus operators to work more flexibly and efficiently. Driving efficiency is the key goal behind our software solutions and over the past 30 years we have become a market-leader in the field. 

To book a consultation, complete the online form or call 0161 683 3100. 

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Onboard bus announcements to be mandatory

Onboard bus announcements to be law

30 March 2023 – Onboard bus announcements are to become mandatory across Britain’s bus network to enable disabled passengers to travel more confidently.

Today, the Department for Transport is introducing rules that will require almost every local bus or coach service to provide audible announcements and visual displays identifying the route and direction, each upcoming stop, and the beginning of any diversions.

Onboard bus announcements to be law

The government is supporting industry to upgrade their vehicles, with £4.65 million in funding for the smallest bus and coach companies, and the changes will be implemented gradually, with almost all vehicles required to comply by October 2026.

At present, there is patchy provision across the country, with only 30% of buses outside London providing this information, which can be a major barrier for disabled people wanting to travel by bus or coach.

Roads and Accessibility Minister Richard Holden said: “Everyone deserves to take the bus with confidence, and this is a massive boost for passenger independence. Simple and effective audible and visible information should be a baked-in feature of a modern bus service to help people reach their destination, wherever they travel in Great Britain.”

Read the full story: New onboard announcements to make Britain’s buses accessible for everyone

EPM Group aims for innovation in the efficiency chain

EPM Group aims for innovation in the efficiency chain

EPM Group aims to support bus operators as they grapple with uncertainties.

It’s a challenging time for bus operators with continuing uncertainties surrounding future funding, the building back of patronage following the Covid-19 pandemic, driver shortages and increasing traffic congestion.

Many are placing their operations and networks under the microscope, but software solutions specialist EPM Group (EPM Bus Solutions and Omnibus Solutions) believes the answer to many of the problems created by these complex issues can be found by focusing on improving efficiencies and streamlining processes.

EPM Group aims for innovation in the efficiency chain

Article featured in the Passenger Transport supplement for UK Bus & Coach 2023

“We’ve been working very closely on the efficiency chain,” says Nick Brookes, software director at EPM Group. “We are looking at the complete range of interactions that take place in any bus operator to see how we can help them realise savings and become even more agile.”

The focus of EPM Group is on realising efficiencies by creating an integrated operational platform. The key components of this vision are drivers and depot allocation, customer services and accidents, and engineering processes.

“We want the data and processes from each of those stages to talk to one another,” explains Nick. “Bus operators create huge amounts of data, but a lot of it is lost in translation. We want to take the data and translate it into information that enables bus operators to become more efficient.”

Helping with driver retention

Driver and vehicle allocation has been a key focus for the group. The Omnibus depot allocation system, OmniDAS, for real-time driver and vehicle management has been enhanced with a move to the cloud and the addition of a smartphone app that creates a complete self-service system for drivers to manage their working life. This includes the ability to offer remote sign-on facility, meaning drivers don’t even have to visit their home depot to sign on for work each day.

Nick BrookesNick believes the sum of these parts is a system that can assist operators to improve their driver retention goals, an important development at a time when much of the industry is struggling with shortages.

“It can really help drivers manage their home life while ensuring they are informed and connected with their colleagues,” he explains. “They can see their shift patterns, apply for overtime, swap their shifts – in other words, they don’t have to go to a front desk or speak to someone. There’s still oversight of what’s going on, but it becomes a back-office process. It makes things more efficient for everyone.”

Nick reveals there are plans to build on this self-service approach. A new bulletin board system within the app aims to supplement the traditional depot noticeboard, allowing staff to review important company information on the go.

Further enhancements are likely to see the app integrated into EPM’s accident management systems, in other words, drivers will be able to record vital details and evidence in the immediate aftermath of an accident. And on that EPM plans to later this year improve its accident reporting solution with new features that will assist operators in tracking accidents from when they happened right through to closure and then analysis afterwards. Nick adds this will allow operators to scrutinise insights that will help them drive down the possibility of a similar accident reoccurring.

Integrating systems

Those plans to integrate the app and accident reporting hint at other aspirations. Nick is keen to evolve the EPM Group of solutions into an expanded platform that helps bus operators realise efficiencies. He describes this as being about creating a “single source of truth”.

“What we want to do is create outputs for operators that offer a good, accurate and consistent overview,” he adds. “We want to streamline workflows and integrate them across the business.”

Nick highlights the operations platform elements of EPM’s offering. “Our Customer Resolution Centre is integrated into that,” he explains. “We wanted it to work harder to help operators rebuild patronage and it’s an area where some operators have struggled in the past.”

While other systems are about logging these interactions, EPM’s platform aims to be more proactive in addressing them. It can automatically consolidate customer feedback from multiple sources to produce a complete overview of customer interactions.

“It means operators can respond to customers quickly and efficiently from a range of platforms, including social media,” adds Nick. “Downstream processes, such as creating feedback forms from the staff involved or evidence requests are automated. It’s about resolving the issue quickly and creating a consolidated view of the entire process.”

Another example of that integration is in engineering systems. While EPM has no plans to create an engineering solution of its own, it is working with third-party providers to ensure systems ‘talk’ to one another in order to streamline processes.

Nick says a good example is if a vehicle is off-road for repair: the engineering system will talk with EPM’s systems to ensure the depot allocation system (OmniDAS) knows that the vehicle can’t be allocated for work for that day. It means that telephone calls or potentially unreliable paper-based methods between engineering and operations departments are avoided and there’s also the advantage that the entire process is automated.

Tying it all together

A big focus for some time for the EPM Group product team has been on control room processes.

“Our BIRS (Bus Incident Reporting Screen) solution enables operators to work flexibly and efficiently, but we want to expand on that,” explains Nick. “A lot of information already flows into and out of the operator’s control room, and we want to consolidate that data into a single dashboard. This is a key focus for us because it will allow control room staff to make more informed and proactive decisions.”

He adds that this process will take disparate systems out of their silos, consolidate them and then use historical data to allow operators to determine trends.

“Efficiency is a big focus for us this year,” Nick concludes.

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

Public Transport Statistics Northern Ireland 2021-22

Public Transport Statistics Northern Ireland 2021-22

29 March 2023 – The Public Transport Statistics Northern Ireland 2021-22 statistical report has been published.

The publication presents statistics on public transport operated by Translink in Northern Ireland and brings together information on public transport journeys, vehicles and staff. It is produced by the Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch (ASRB) of the Department for Infrastructure (Dfl).

Public Transport Statistics Northern Ireland 2021-22

The key points covered are:

Public transport journeys

  • In 2021-22, there were 59.3 million journeys on public transport; this was an increase of 33.6 million or 131% since 2020-21 when movement restrictions were in place due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The number of passenger journeys in 2021-22 was still much lower than in 2019-20 (83.4 million) with the advice and guidance around COVID-19 and working from home likely having an impact on public transport usage.
  • During 2021-22, there were, 50.5 million bus passenger journeys, an increase of 126% when compared with 2020-21 (22.4 million), but a decrease of 26% from 2019-20 (68.3 million).
  • There were 8.7 million rail passenger journeys in 2021-22, an increase of 164% when compared with 2020-21 (3.3 million) but a decrease of 42% from 2019-20 (15.1 million).
  • In March 2022, the number of bus and rail passenger journeys reached their highest monthly levels since the beginning of the pandemic with 5.9 million and 1.03 million journeys respectively.

Public transport vehicles

  • At the end of March 2022, there were 1,064 Ulsterbuses, 262 Metro buses and 34 Gliders in operation which were, on average, 9.4 years, 8.8 years and 3.6 years old respectively.
  • At the end of March 2022, there were 143 rail carriages in operation, with an average age of 18 years.

Public transport staff

  • The average number of staff employed by Translink in 2021-22 was 4,064, 74% of those in relation to buses (3,027) and 26% of those in relation to rail (1,037).

Read the full document: Public Transport Statistics Northern Ireland 2021-22

Podcast – Are you wasting time defining TransXChange variants?

defining TransXChange variants

Stop wasting time defining TransXChange variants. OmniTIMES is our intuitive timetabling solution with journeys in it that do what the user wants them to do. When the TransXChange file is exported, the variants are automatically generated without the user having to think about defining them. Find out more in the podcast.

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Visit us at the ALBUM Conference 2023

Album Conference 2022 in Blackpool

Join us, Omnibus and EPM, on 25 & 26 April at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh, for Album Conference 2023.

This year’s theme is the changing face of our industry focusing on four pillars within this – policy, customers, products, and colleagues. The event will be a celebration of all areas of the industry looking at both the present and future of the industry, and how we can navigate the challenges and maximise opportunity.

Album Conference 2022 in Blackpool

Visit us on Stand 37 for product demos and speak with Software Director Nick Brookes, BSOG Director Matthew Hanlon, Account Manager Penny Johnson, Omnibus Founder Peter Crichton and Product Owner Aiden Proctor about our software solutions and consultancy services, including:

Event Itinerary.

Book your tickets.

Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa
1 Festival Square

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

Podcast – Does your scheduling software allow for a combined bus operation?

combined bus operation

Does your scheduling software allow you to plan for a combined bus operation? Our timetabling solution OmniTIMES allows you to have as many route numbers as you need on the same timetable, which makes it easy to plan a combined operation along common sections of the route. Find out more in the podcast.

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See us at the CPT UK Bus & Coach Conference 2023

CPT UK Bus & Coach Conference 2023

Join us, Omnibus and EPM, on the 30th and 31st of March 2023 at the Eastside Rooms, Birmingham, for the UK Bus and Coach Conference hosted by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT).

The event brings together operators large and small with supply chain, key stakeholders and Government to debate, discuss and share experience of the big issues facing the industry.

CPT UK Bus & Coach Conference 2023

Visit our stand and speak with Software Director Nick Brookes and BSOG Director Mat Hanlon about our software solutions and consultancy services, including:

Visit the websiteUK Bus and Coach Conference 2023

What’s onConference itinerary

The Eastside Rooms
2 Woodcock Street
B7 4BL

Thursday 30 March 2023, 10:00 – 17:00 hrs
Friday 21 March 2023, 09:00 – 13:00 hrs

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.