Citymapper to start smart-bus service in London

09 May 2017


App firm Citymapper is set to start a smart-bus service in London, which it hopes will help revolutionise London's bus service and enable it to respond in real time to passengers' needs.

The app firm's first three smartbuses will run ''the circulator'' an anticlockwise ring route in central London, from Southwark to South Bank and back today Tuesday and tomorrow.

The small, bright green buses form part of Citymapper's newly announced Project Grasshopper, under which the firm aims to try to learn more about buses by running its own test route.

Much like ordinary London buses, Citymapper's buses will run on a fixed route with scheduled stops. The project will be based around a few key differences of Citymapper's buses compared to London's familiar large red vehicles.

The firm has developed a software system to enable its vehicles to count passengers, and has provided the driver with an app.

''We've taken systems that haven't traditionally talked to each other and integrated them,'' said Citymapper in a statement on its website.

According to Citymapper, it can improve existing routes and identify new and better ones by using a tool in the app.

Meanwhile, commentators point out that while other tech startups had focused on cars, Citymapper had prioritised public transport. The app, which launched in 2012, suggests public transport routes – buses, metros, rail, and cycling – in 40 cities worldwide.

Citymapper's buses will be very different from ordinary London buses. They will be smaller, 30-seater vehicles, dubbed ''Sprinters'', painted bright green.

Inside, the company had re-designed the bus experience, with seats offering USB charging points and large displays will advising users on when to get off.

Further, the driver will use a custom-built tablet interface that will keep him informed on real-time on traffic, passenger numbers, and headway (the distance between vehicles) advised by a central controller using Citymapper's demand data.

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