In readiness for non-essential retail starting to open from 15 June, Go North East, alongside its parent company the Go-Ahead Group, has been working with tech partner CitySwift to develop ‘When to Travel’, a dynamic colour-coded online timetable tool to help passengers plan journeys at quieter times.

Current social distancing requirements due to the coronavirus crisis have placed temporary restrictions on how many people buses can carry and whilst a small number of journeys may become full at busy times, there is generally plenty of capacity if people can adjust their travel times, often by just half an hour can make a lot of difference.

The ‘When to Travel’ tool uses historic data and a forward prediction engine to forecast expected demand for each part of every bus journey for the days and weeks ahead. The data updates dynamically to give the best possible predictions and help passengers plan their journeys so they can travel at the best times.

The company is also working to publish live data on how busy buses actually are at the time of operation.

Commenting on the development, Martijn Gilbert, Go North East’s managing director, said: “Helping customers plan their journeys at the best times during the current situation will be key to public transport continuing to play its role as a clean, safe and efficient way of moving large numbers of people to connect our towns and cities and help ease congestion, whilst also improving air quality.

“We are working hard to ensure buses services meet demand and adapt to the coronavirus crisis. The ‘When to Travel’ too is an important part of this and we’re delighted to have worked with innovative technology partner CitySwift to quickly develop this tool.”

CitySwift are providers of a specialist public transport big data engine provider. By using bus ticket data and patterns of use, their system will produce dynamic predictions of bus loadings to help inform passengers journey choices whilst capacities are restricted and new travel patterns emerge as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

This powerful dynamic data set will also help Go-Ahead’s bus companies plan future timetable changes based on emerging demand as the bus industry faces the challenges of changing travel patterns, balanced with capacity restrictions due to social distancing.

CitySwift were also part of part of The Go-Ahead Group’s ​Billion Journey Project, the UK’s largest privately funded multi-modal transport innovation proof of concept programme and have been working with some of the group’s operating companies since.

To view Go North East’s ‘When to Travel’ tool, visit www.gonortheast.co.uk/when-to-travel.