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Meet the Billion Journey Project start-ups: Swiftly

Continuing our series looking at the start-ups powering the Billion Journey Project, we consider how Swiftly is using data to help Go South Coast with both efficiency and customer service.

Data in isolation provides little more than unrealised potential. It is the process of drawing meaningful, actionable insights from datasets that realises their true value.

And that is what the ambitious urban mobility solutions company Swiftly does with data, for the benefit of transport companies and the passengers they serve. By applying nuanced analysis, Swiftly’s software – founded in 2014 and headquartered in San Francisco – uses insight to inform and improve the proficiency of transit networks, by both maximising operational efficiency and enhancing the supply of real-time information to customers. Furthermore, Swiftly’s insights can help transport organisations make smarter infrastructure investments.

Swiftly has enjoyed much success in the US. Swiftly’s ambition, however, is global, which is why the company’s European business development manager Craig Nelson and his colleagues on this side of the pond have been exploring the potential to serve transit networks far from San Francisco, from the UK to Scandinavia.

It was that effort that led Swiftly to join the Billion Journey Project, affording Nelson an opportunity to work with the team from UK bus operator Go South Coast, which was looking for ways to evolve and refine its efficiency and customer experience.

“What attracted us to the Billion Journey Project was the ability to work with a big bus operator in the UK, and to understand how they operate and how they currently use data to power their business,” explains Nelson. “We wanted to explore how we could either support what they currently do, replace what they currently do or make it better. It gave us insight into the challenges that face a big bus operator and how we can help with that is. And it’s an experience that has really helped us too.”

The Billion Journey Project provided Swiftly and Go South Coast with the chance to establish a deep, immersive collaboration, with the two companies looking at ways to ramp up efficiency, investigating means to shorten run times on routes, or even changing the number of buses dedicated to a route while maintaining service levels. Equally, there was a keen focus on bettering customer service and customer information. Since the project began over ten Go South Coast staff members have been using Swiftly, ranging from schedulers to customer service representatives. The system is successfully tracking 38 routes, over 1.25m bus departures (and counting) and performance data for all drivers. Ultimately, based on data consumed by Swiftly so far, the on time performance of certain routes could be improved – just by using enhanced run times suggested by the platform. Staff can carry out tasks in seconds which would normally take them hours or even days.

“Working closely with companies like Swiftly and their business development manager Craig has allowed both him and me to deep-dive into each other’s business and really supercharge our co-development,” enthuses Richard Tyldsley, general manager at Go South Coast. “Craig has been amazingly positive and by collaborating has been able to really get under the skin of our business. Both Craig and Swiftly have put effort, energy and resource into The Billion Journey Project. Creating good working relationships based on honesty, creativity and having a ‘can-do’ attitude have been key to our successful journey with Swiftly so far.”

“The Billion Journey Project is so good for us for that because we’ll be able to show others what we did with Go South Coast,” concludes Nelson. “We’ll be able to say to other operators ‘you guys should get involved too’. It helps us create a little bit of FOMO. You know; ‘fear of missing out’. That’s what we do. We try to create FOMO.”