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Transport / Bus app could increase revenue, councillor suggests

A COUNCILLOR believes that pinging real-time location data of buses in Shetland to a mobile phone app could encourage more people to use services – and increase income at the same time.

Robbie McGregor said at Thursday’s meeting of Shetland’s transport partnership ZetTrans that he wondered if the new smart ticketing systems on the bus fleet could be used to tell people how far away buses were from stops.

He pointed to bus stops down south which have screens telling passengers how many minutes away a service is.

“I noticed in London and Edinburgh the bus stops all have signs that tell when a bus is going to come, and these signs are unbelievably accurate,” the south end councillor said.

“I was hoping that the new smart ticketing devices that are on all the buses in Shetland would provide all the information that might be transmitted to an app on people’s mobile phone.

“This would allow them to see the bus is coming in so many minutes, and this would make the passenger experience better and hopefully encourage more people to use our buses and increase revenue on the buses.”

Lead officer Michael Craigie said the equipment does have GPS and tracking capabilities, but those “modules” have not been bought due to their cost.

He said, however, that “if it’s more accessible and easier to understand, more people might use the bus”.

Craigie suggested that the additional infrastructure needed to relay real-time data to screens in bus stops would be too costly, but he said apps “add a new dimension” and confirmed “there’s possibilities there”.

ZetTrans does currently offer a mobile app but it only features listings of timetables, although it can break it down by bus stop.

Thursday’s meeting heard that the gross income from buses in Shetland in 2018/19 was around £613,000, although the gross expenditure was £2.62 million.

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