Category: TXC

Buslines and Omnibus partner to meet governmental compliance standards

Buslines and Omnibus partner to meet the government's compliance standards

Buslines Group is an Australian bus company and one of the largest private operators in the state of New South Wales (NSW).

The family-run business operates passenger transport and school services across 12 regions under contracts held with the NSW Government agency, Transport for NSW.

In 2020, Transport for NSW made a commitment to improve public transport services and to better meet the travel needs of passengers. This served as a catalyst for Buslines to digitalise its manual work processes, leading the group to partner with Omnibus for timetabling, mapping, rostering, vehicle scheduling and crew duties. 

As part of its commitment, Transport for NSW requires bus operators to share transport data electronically in a TODIS (Transport Operational Data Interface Specification) format. Having seen significant efficiencies delivered from using the scheduling suite, Buslines challenged Omnibus to develop a robust TODIS solution. 

Challenge 

Omnibus has a vast amount of experience in designing interfaces to external systems, having developed TransXChange (TXC) tools and a Bus Open Data Service (BODS) exporter to meet the UK’s Department for Transport standard. 

The TODIS file has to feed several downstream systems, including Transport for NSW’s website, journey planners and real-time systems. It also needs to provide the timetable and schedule data needed for Buslines to monitor on-time performance through Transport for NSW’s real-time bus tracking initiative, Transport Connected Bus (TCB) Program. 

“It was a key requirement for the TODIS file to produce accurate transport data to allow us to feed external systems quickly and seamlessly. Omnibus has a powerful scheduling solution, and we had every confidence in the team developing a TODIS exporter which enabled Buslines to meet our regulatory requirements.” – David D’Apuzzo, Director at Buslines Group 

Solution

TODIS is a comprehensive, technical document detailing how the XML file should read, and it requires an operating calendar specifying when each trip operates. 

Adhering to strict TODIS documentation, Omnibus developed a TODIS exporter which pulls data from the cloud-based Omnibus scheduling modules adopted by Buslines – OmniTIMES, OmniBASE and OmniMAP – to produce a TODIS-compliant file which seamlessly feeds external systems. 

Result

Buslines benefits from the following with the TODIS exporter: 

  • Produces TODIS compliant exports quickly and seamlessly 
  • Provides Transport for NSW with accurate transport data 
  • Has the capability to improve services, monitor KPIs and inform customers of service updates 

“From scheduling to data sharing, Omnibus has proven capability to create robust solutions for bus operators. We can now connect with customers, manage operations and keep services running on time.” – David D’Apuzzo

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

Warwickshire County Council selects Omnibus planning and publicity solutions

Warwickshire County Council selects Omnibus cloud-based planning and publicity solutions

18 May 2022 – Warwickshire County Council will plan and publicise bus services using Omnibus’ cloud-based platform – and deliver on a commitment to increase the quality of journey information for customers.

The contract was awarded following a tender process which will see the council implementing timetabling, mapping, timetable publicity, roadside asset management and data sharing solutions.

Warwickshire County Council selects Omnibus cloud-based planning and publicity solutions

In response to the National Bus Strategy to get more people travelling by bus, the provision of quality publicity information was identified as a priority measure in Warwickshire’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).

By using OmniSTOPdesign timetable publicity software, the council can create and maintain professional and accurate displays in multiple styles, sizes and formats without the need to use a graphic designer.

Derek Riley, Passenger Transport Officer at Warwickshire County Council, said: “Warwickshire County Council creates and maintains NaPTAN stops, timetable schedules, bus routes, roadside publicity displays, as well as analysing ‘what if’ scenarios and importing and exporting data.

“Following a county-wide survey to help shape our BSIP, better static timetable information was identified as a measure which would encourage more people to use the bus. For example, ‘easier access to bus service information’ featured as one of the top three measures in the results from both regular users and infrequent or non-users.”

“OmniSTOPdesign offers us new possibilities in timetable publicity that can take things to a whole new level. We will be able to manage roadside and online publicity information for local bus services, from improving roadside/in-street route and timetable information, including the use of digital displays, to integrating bus services and timetables in order to maximise scope for multi-modal connections.”

Peter Crichton, Founder of Omnibus, said: “I’m delighted that Omnibus has been successful in being awarded this tender. Our software solutions have been designed with the needs of transport authorities and bus operators in mind to improve operational efficiency.

“Our timetabling system provides flexible modelling tools that provide high-level timetables and schedules to give a quick view of effectiveness for different scenarios. Our timetable publicity software for stop displays enables users to produce information displays quickly and cost-effectively, whilst our communications and infrastructure applications provide accurate transport data to all internal and external downstream systems.”

– ENDS –

Omnibus Solutions: www.omnibus.solutions

Press contact at Omnibus Solutions, part of EPM Group

Harminder Sangha
harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com
07538 935 568

Empowering transport authorities with software solutions

Grow patronage, improve efficiency and deliver outstanding customer service

Squarepeg Buses digitalises scheduling and allocation with Omnibus cloud solutions

Squarepeg Buses digitalises scheduling and allocation with Omnibus cloud solutions

Squarepeg Buses, an independent operator in Leeds, has selected Omnibus cloud solutions to optimise scheduling and operational activities. 

The operator provides public, private and school transport services to a loyal customer base in the city and surrounding areas and needed software to work smarter in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Established in 2009 and with a peak vehicle requirement (PVR) of 13, the operator will deploy timetabling, vehicle scheduling, rostering, mapping, depot allocation and data sharing solutions. The Omnibus software has been developed over 30 years and is designed to gain operational and cost efficiencies in the planning of services as well as making the process easier for schedulers. 

Simon Daymond, Director of Squarepeg Buses, said: “We’ve always embraced technology and our approach has been to find opportunities through software, rather than scrambling for solutions when problems occur. Covid brought this to the fore and gave us an opportunity to pause and reflect on what we do as a business.  

“We were impressed by the clear superiority of the Omnibus products and the cloud benefits they will provide our family-focussed business. We’re driven by the needs of our passengers; the team at Omnibus has a strong background in the bus industry and deep understanding of the challenges operators face which will make a major contribution to the continued high-quality of our services.” 

Peter Crichton, Founder of Omnibus, said: “We are delighted that Squarepeg Buses has chosen Omnibus to address their scheduling and operational requirements to support their future growth and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Our technology is designed specifically for schedulers and is quick and easy to use with efficient processes which improve productivity.” 

-END-

PR contact at Omnibus, part of the EPM Group:
Harminder Sangha
Harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com
+44 (0)7538 935 568

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

Rowgate Group selects Omnibus for scheduling and depot allocation

Rowgate Group selects Omnibus to drive efficiencies

Rowgate Group, a leading Berkshire-based bus and coach operator, has chosen Omnibus software solutions for driving timetabling, scheduling and allocation efficiencies.  

The group incorporates three independents – Fernhill Travel, White Bus and Baileys Coaches which have a combined fleet of 70. The partnership brings digitalisation of processes to White Bus, and OmniDAS, a cloud-based depot allocation system, to all three of the group’s operators.

Rowgate Group selects Omnibus to drive efficiencies

OmniDAS provides Rowgate Group with realtime driver and vehicle management, and seamless cross-functional collaboration across its 4 locations in Windsor, Bracknell, Woking and Newbury.  

White Bus also adopts the intuitive Omnibus scheduling suite, allowing the county’s oldest independent to produce complex timetables and robust scenarios in minutes, and TransXChange tools to easily share data with other systems. 

Together the market leading software solutions provide Rowgate Group with the capability adopted by larger operators. 

Simon Rowgate, the managing director of Rowgate GroupSimon Rowland, Managing Director of Rowgate Group, said: “It is important for us to stay ahead of the game and to do this we need a partner with proven solutions and a deep understanding of the UK bus industry and the challenges operators face. 

“Omnibus is uniquely placed with the knowledge, expertise and technology to support us as we optimise our resources toward the most effective services for communities across the Home Counties and beyond.  

“The solutions cover 100% of our needs. The powerful algorithms in the software maximise results, resources and non-driving staff efficiency as well as being easy to use. We are excited about our partnership and leveraging the innovative capabilities offered by Omnibus.” 

Peter Crichton, Founder of Omnibus, said: “With a 30-plus year track record of supporting the passenger transport industry, Omnibus is proud to provide Rowgate Group with software solutions which will help drive business growth by improving operational efficiency across the business. Our comprehensive solutions continue to make Omnibus the partner of choice for smaller independents up to large global operators.” 

The scheduling suite consists of powerful timetabling, scheduling, mapping, rostering and crew duty modules, while OmniDAS can allocate and manage resources, produce timesheet and payroll information, and automate staff sign-on. This allows organisations to focus on service provision without having to worry about time-consuming administration.

-END-

PR contact at Omnibus, part of the EPM Group:
Harminder Sangha
Harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com
+44 (0)7538 935 568

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

Merseytravel selects Omnibus cloud-based scheduling solution

Merseytravel selects Omnibus cloud-based scheduling solution

Merseytravel has extended its software partnership with EPM Group (EPM and Omnibus) through the adoption of the Omnibus cloud-based scheduling suite.

Omnibus’ solution provides users with a range of flexible and easy-to-use tools aimed at improving efficiency and reducing the margin for error when timetabling and scheduling and is accessible from any location.

Merseytravel selects Omnibus cloud-based scheduling solution

Merseytravel is the transport delivery arm of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and has previously worked with EPM Group on the deployment of contract management solution ETM DAS to monitor the performance of tendered routes in a central hub – reducing administration time and providing data to make cost-effective decisions. In addition, Merseytravel also implemented the interactive analytics platform EPM Insights which offers strategic insight through real-time management information and dashboards.

The scheduling suite integrates seamlessly with both products, removing the need for manual entry of timetables when preparing to issue a new tender. Timetables and scheduling data is then fed into EPM Insights for visual reporting and analysis.

The Omnibus TransXchange viewer tools can also be utilised to review submissions from operators to ensure compliance with the tender specification, making this process as efficient as possible when dealing with multiple tender submissions.

Jeanette Townson, Bus Development Manager at MerseytravelJeanette Townson, Bus Development Manager at Merseytravel, said: “The implementation of Omnibus scheduling suite will help streamline and increase the efficiency of the tendering process by removing the need for manual data entry.

“Previously this process involved creating timetables in Microsoft Word and Excel which was time consuming and difficult to update. The integration of the products and automation capabilities will help ensure data quality and provide significant time savings – freeing up valuable resources to focus on other priorities.”

Ian Churchill, CEO at EPM Group, said: “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Merseytravel, and this new integration is testament to the software’s capabilities as well as the value which is achieved with the two businesses, EPM and Omnibus, working together.

“Driving efficiency is the key goal behind our software solutions and we are committed to helping Transport Authorities improve the effectiveness of their organisation and the success of their networks.”

– END –

EPM Group Press Contact:
Harminder Sangha
Harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com
07538 935 568

Empowering transport authorities with software solutions

Grow patronage, improve efficiency and deliver outstanding customer service

Edinburgh Trams extends partnership adopting powerful crew scheduling solution

Sarah Singh, Operations Manager, Edinburgh Trams

1 September 2021 – Edinburgh Trams has extended its partnership with Omnibus by deploying the next-generation automatic crew scheduling tool CrewPLAN – and said it is on track to improve efficiency. 

The operator needed a user-friendly solution to create robust schedules and forecast for future operational costs as new stops are added to the city’s tram network by 2023.  

Sarah Singh, Operations Manager, Edinburgh Trams

With its powerful algorithms CrewPLAN was the operator’s first choice to replace its previous system, and this was confirmed on a fact-finding mission to Blackpool Transport. 

Edinburgh Trams has successfully been using the Omnibus software to test numerous scenarios and operating patterns to build a realistic picture of the resources that may be required in the future. 

Sarah Singh, Operations Manager at Edinburgh Trams, said: “Omnibus has been key for developing a sustainable transport strategy which includes the Trams to Newhaven project. CrewPLAN will provide us with the level of control and accuracy we need to ensure optimised shift patterns. It offers tools for medium-term and long-term crew scheduling based on our organisation’s legal frameworks and guidelines.”

Peter Crichton, Managing Director at Omnibus, said: “Edinburgh Trams’ deployment of CrewPLAN is a testament to the positive achievements of the partnership and demonstrates the strength of the Omnibus software in meeting the needs of the passenger transport market. 

“With our software, Edinburgh Trams can better understand the current and future operational needs of the business and can optimise crew schedules ensuring an efficient and reliable service to customers.” 

Construction on the extension, called Trams to Newhaven, started in 2019. It will add 2.91 miles of track in both directions, connecting Leith and Newhaven to the current end of the Edinburgh tram line at York Place with eight new stops. 

The operator has been utilising Omnibus’ intuitive scheduling solutions, OmniTIMES and OmniBASE, and depot allocation software, OmniDAS, since 2020. CrewPLAN has been adopted last month along with TransXChange Exporter and mobile app myDAS Touch, which allows drivers to view and request changes to their upcoming work.  

Keith Burnett, Scheduling Manager at Edinburgh Trams, said: “Operational efficiency is a key driver on our tram networks, having worked with the Omnibus solutions and the results achieved, we are confident moving from our old crewing system to CrewPLAN, we are adopting a platform which will support us in maximising the efficiency of duties and paid hours.” 

Aiden Proctor, Product Owner – Scheduling Suite at Omnibus, said: “Our team is proud to extend our relationship with Edinburgh Trams.  

“With the current extension being built, Edinburgh Trams required a tool to produce the most efficient crew duties. CrewPLAN is a flexible crew scheduling tool that uses advanced algorithms to find the best possible solution for today and tomorrow within the parameters defined by the user. 

“Also, due to a change in the RTPI supplier to City of Edinburgh Council there was a need for Edinburgh Trams to provide their own timetable data to the RTPI supplier. Our TXC Exporter enables users to export data directly from their timetable system (OmniTIMES) and provide it directly to downstream stakeholders such as the RTPI supplier. It’s an easy-to-use export process that can quickly produce timetable data in an industry-standard format.” 

Edinburgh Trams added they “work collaboratively with colleagues as much as possible on any project” and feedback from Keith was “absolutely important” when choosing a solution.

– END –

Press Contact:
Harmi Sangha

Marketing Manager – Omnibus and EPM Bus Solutions
07538 935 568
Harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com 

Empowering you with software to drive your business forward

Intuitive. Seamless. Dynamic.

Making it easier to share data between systems

data sharing between systems

We were really pleased with the positive feedback from our last software update notification and wanted to make sure that you are also aware of the latest developments in our other applications.

In this update we concentrate on our data management applications, to make sure you can take advantage of features designed to improve efficiency and save time – which has never been more important with the current challenging situation.

Details of how to download these features have been sent to users.

data sharing between systems

OmniFLAG

NaPTAN Editor & Roadside Asset Management

  • Maintain StopPoint and StopArea records for your area.
  • Easy to use and validates changes as-you-edit.
  • Comprehensive asset management solution for recording and monitoring bus stops and associated equipment.
  • Install on Windows tablets & laptops to allow remote data collection and editing.

 

TransXChange & EBSR

The UK standard for exchanging public transport timetable and schedule data

TransXChange Exporter

  • Exchange operational data with systems such as journey planners (including those operated by Traveline), real-time (RTPI) systems and electronic ticket machine systems (ETMs).
  • Perform validation checks on the source data to help to pinpoint any data issues prior to producing a TransXChange file.

EBSR

  • An efficient answer to the provision of Electronic Bus Service Registrations.
  • Extract all registration journeys from OmniTIMES data and mapping details from OmniMAP to create TransXChange format registration documents.

TransXChange Viewer

  • View TransXChange timetables in a familiar OmniTIMES style interface.
  • Check days of operation, dates, stop points, operators and registrations.

TransXChange Importer

  • Import journeys from TransXChange files directly into OmniTIMES.
    Preserve as high a level of detail as the source data allows.
  • Control how multiple TransXChange journeys are to be split into separate timetables.

TransXChange Tools

  • Analyse TransXChange files with a wide range of reporting and operational checks

 

To take advantage of these new features, call us on 0161 683 3100 or email:support@omnibus.uk.com

Software solutions to drive your network forward

Maximising efficiency of your drivers and vehicles

Bringing fares data to Welsh bus passengers

Caucasian man listens to music while traveling in an urban bus

Traveline Cymru partnered with Omnibus to develop an innovative process for handling fares data and cross-referencing it with timetable information.

Omnibus has been working closely with Traveline Cymru to bring fares information to the bus users of Wales. It means that Wales is ahead of other parts of the UK in disclosing this vital information.

Caucasian man listens to music while traveling in an urban bus

In England the Bus Services Act contains regulations made under the new open data provisions and new ticketing powers that aim to make it easier for bus passengers to use buses, move between different modes of transport and access timetables, fares and routes. However, it is perhaps worthwhile noting that Wales is ahead of England when it comes to those elements regarding publicly available information about bus fares.

Software supplier Omnibus has worked closely with Traveline Cymru and its partners to develop an innovative process for handling fares information, cross-referenced with timetable data. It means that bus users, not to mention potential bus users, can access detailed bilingual bus fares information via the Traveline Cymru service, be that online, through the organisation’s Freephone number, or via its smartphone apps.

The decision to include fares information within Traveline Cymru’s service came about because in the past the organisation’s contact centre agents were frequently asked for fares information.

“At that time, they had huge bound files containing printed fare tables,” says Kevin Roderick, Traveline Cymru’s Service Delivery Manager. “This was a long-winded and cumbersome task that added considerable time to the call length.”

He adds that it had long been agreed nationally that including fares alongside journey planning information was a long-term aspiration “but there was no action being taken so we decided to go our own way and make it happen”.

Roderick believes that the full disclosure of fares data was important for the Traveline Cymru service. “With any other mode of transport, you would be able to easily get the information about what your journey was going to cost, even by car,” he says. “With bus a lot of people usually turn up and trust they can afford it.”

There were obstacles to be overcome, in particular that there was no legal requirement to force operators to disclose their fares to Traveline Cymru when registering a bus service. Fares can be changed by operators largely at will and, usually, at short notice. It means that Roderick and his colleagues rely entirely on goodwill from the operators to send Traveline Cymru updates about when fare changes are made.

Of course, that seems simple when compared to the task of processing the fares information and then presenting it in a standardised format. Initially Roderick and his colleagues tried to extract the information directly from the back offices of each operator’s Electronic Ticket Machine (ETM) supplier.

“However, as we were not direct customers, we had to have individual contracts with each bus operator,” explains Roderick. “The issues arose when back offices were updated or had patches added and we had to return to our system suppliers to make amendments to the software constantly. This became too costly to continue.”

It was at this point that Traveline Cymru began to examine a common denominator that had the potential to provide an effective one-size-fits-all solution. Roderick and his colleagues determined that the ETMs of every Welsh bus operator are effectively reading a fare chart in order to calculate a passenger’s fare, so, effectively, the ETM has the ability to print a fare table for each route.

“This means that they can supply us in electronic format either a spreadsheet, text file or PDF,” says Roderick.

Working with partners that included Omnibus, Traveline Cymru then determined a desired ‘standard’ spreadsheet format from the raw ETM fare table data. From this, software was developed that could ‘read’ Microsoft Excel, text or PDF fare table files and convert them into spreadsheets that would create a standardised data set. The software also has the benefit that it can be used to manually create fare tables for the rare file formats that the software cannot automatically ‘read’.

Rob West, Solution Architect for Omnibus, explains what the team did to enable the two sets of data, fares and timetables, to work together in the journey planner: “There is no standardised bus stop location code common to both the fare data and the timetables. We therefore developed a GIS-based tool that assists a skilled and knowledgeable user to cross reference the fare stage codes used in the standardised fare data with the NaPTAN codes used in each timetable route variant, to get the two data sets working together.”

It has been a lengthy and complex process to reach the stage where the majority of fares information is now freely available to the public.

“We started this process as far back as 2014 or 2015,” admits Roderick. “We did not make any real progress until the middle of 2016 when we set up the current system. We initially had good response from the larger operators and local authorities and were able to create around 65% of available fares quite quickly (beginning of 2017). This slowed somewhat when we went for medium operators and are currently holding around 90% of all fares.”

Traveline Cymru is now actively working with smaller operators in order to include their fare information but Roderick admits that this has its challenges. “This is likely to be slower work as they have numerous other tasks to perform and less knowledge of their ETM back office functions,” he says. “We will, in all likelihood, visit each and offer to extract the information on their behalf.”

“This has been an exciting project to have been a part of,” says Michael Meilton, Special Projects Manager for Omnibus. “There is a reason why this hasn’t been done before as it is extremely complicated to do, but Traveline Cymru is streets ahead of its counterparts in England who are faced with the challenge presented by the Open data elements of the Bus Services Act, which is still only in the planning stage. Traveline Cymru established a need to provide more comprehensive information to passengers and found a practical way to deliver results in a reasonable period of time.”

Despite these challenges, Roderick says the process has been valuable with extremely positive feedback. “All have welcomed the inclusion of this information,” he adds. “We are now in a position where we can look at a new phase of development and look at integration of tickets, rider ticket zones and improvements to how fares are displayed to customers.

“We believe that having all the information a customer needs to plan and make a bus journey improves the customer experience and, although it has been a difficult process at times, the outcome is well worth having.”

In addition to certain elements in the fares data process, Omnibus also supplies Traveline Cymru with the software to create and export timetable data for the entire country.

“The requirements on operators to provide additional data are forever increasing,” Meilton continues. “Omnibus continues to play a significant role in data exchange, by allowing operators to export data electronically (such as Electronic Registrations), and providing data tools for organisations including Traveline Cymru, to process it.”

Oldham-based Omnibus supplies scheduling software and management tools to numerous bus operators across Wales, including First, Cardiff Bus, Newport Transport and ComfortDelGro subsidiary, New Adventure Travel.

This article was first published in Passenger Transport’s special ‘Buses in Wales’ publication in 2018.

Omnibus works to solve open fares data conundrum

Jo Foxall is the operations director at Traveline Cymru

Software supplier has worked closely with Traveline Cymru to bring fares data to Welsh bus users alongside other developments.

Omnibus has worked closely with Traveline Cymru to develop an innovative process for handling fare data and cross-referencing it with timetable data.

It follows close working between the software specialist, Traveline Cymru and SilverRail.

Jo Foxall is the operations director at Traveline Cymru

The result is that bus passengers in Wales can now access detailed information about bus fares using the Traveline Cymru service via its contact centre, website and apps for iPhone and Android smartphones.

It is a widely acknowledged fact that handling fare data is highly complex for many reasons with thousands of individual fares across Wales. Operators can also be understandably wary of publishing data as fares can change frequently, meaning the information can quickly go out of date, and there may be issues with commercial sensitivity.

An added complication is the wide variety of ticket machines in use that manage fare data, each one with its own data exchange format. To add to the complexities, fare data is often managed by different staff and not always cross-referenced to timetables, so different bus stop codes or names are used in the different systems.

“It was always seen as something that was intensely difficult to do,” explains Jo Foxall, Traveline Cymru’s Operations Director. “The big issue was just how would we keep the data up-to-date as there is no legal process that requires operators to provide the information. Luckily we have very close relationships with the operators and we worked hard to build those bridges.”

While the larger operators were able to use electronic systems to transfer their fares data to Traveline Cymru, some of the smaller operators relied on paper-based systems to record their fares data.

Foxall admits that this disparity in methods to transfer information was something of a challenge. However, Omnibus worked closely with both Traveline Cymru, an organisation called Change++ and the operators to create a system that ‘reads’ fares data from the wide variety of electronic ticket machine systems deployed by Welsh operators.

Meanwhile, a special software tool was constructed that aims to harmonise those potential issues created by the disparity between locations and fare stages. It is a move that exploits the talents of Omnibus, which is the UK’s leading supplier of operational software to the passenger transport industry and backed up by more than 25 years’ experience in providing public transport operators and local authorities with systems that meet their needs.

“It has been a lengthy and complex process, but the feedback from service users has been extremely positive,” says Foxall. “It’s not that long ago that our contact centre were using bound hard copy files of fare tables; now it’s available on screen.

“The relationship with Omnibus has also been particularly rewarding as they have been extremely responsive to our needs and requirements. If we have any issues we just need to pick up the phone and they are on the case.”

This article first appeared Passenger Transport’s special Buses in Wales publication in 2017.