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Jam busting software to help London buses


Bus operators in London will shortly be able to use real time route optimisation software designed to help drivers avoid delays and services stay on schedule.

The software has been developed by Israeli based technology firm Optibus and is used in over 200 cities in America as well as in Germany, Singapore and Australia.

It works by dynamically adjusting a driver’s route based on the traffic conditions, to ensure that a bus remains as close to the timetable as possible. If a long delay is forecast, the system can be programmed to instruct a driver not to take on any new passengers in order to reduce the journey time. A second driver can also be asked to follow behind to pick up those waiting at the roadside.

Facebook uses the software to optimise the performance of staff shuttle buses operating between Silicon Valley and San Francisco, and in recent months the technology has been on test in London.

“The UK pilot has proved very successful and we are about to launch in London very soon,” the firm’s co-founder Amos Haggiag told ITS Weekly News. “We are offering something that doesn’t exist today in this country; an automatically adjusting route and scheduling system for buses that operates smartly and in real time.”

“Many software companies are focused on showing passengers if their bus will be late,” he adds. “But we want to solve the problem by making sure the bus won’t be late.”

Data is gathered from a number of sources in real time including sensors on the vehicles. Bus operators can also choose whether the software should prioritise performance or reduce the number of miles driven.

Other features of the software include instructing a driver when best to take a break or take the vehicle back to the depot. The technology is also being developed to work with electric buses so that routes can be planned based on the remaining charge of a vehicle.

Amos and his business partner developed the software three years ago while studying mathematics and computer science at university in Tel Aviv, in an effort to improve the flow of public transportation. Amos went on to work for Microsoft and developed the new venture in his spare time, but decided to leave his computing job to focus on the new product. Optibus now has 40 staff and is building offices in Europe and America.

“We started working for one private transport company in Israel after asking for their data and showing them how they could become more efficient,” he added. “We found that our software can lead to cost savings for operators of between 3 and 15%. It is only right that public transportation operates not in a fixed way, but in a more dynamic way.”