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New AI based technology tool helps passengers plan journeys and find space on buses

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New AI based technology tool helps passengers plan journeys and find space on buses

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




On the Go since 1913

Around 175,000 journeys are made on Go North East bus services every day to travel around this wonderful region. Travelling to work or education, to visit friends and family, to have a night out, or to visit one of the region's many tourist and leisure attractions.

For over 100 years, Go North East has connected the region's towns and villages with the cities of Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland and currently operates across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and into Tees Valley.

Employing over 2,000 local people, with a fleet of almost 700 buses and coaches and an annual turnover of £100m, the company is the regional subsidiary of the Go-Ahead Group plc, one of the UK's leading providers of passenger transport.

Go North East
117 Queen Street
NE8 2UA Gateshead