Citymapper trials smartbus in London

Transport app provider Citymapper launched a free pop-up bus route in London last week as part of a project to improve urban mobility.

Its CMX1 service operated on 9 and 10 May around Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridge using three small buses kitted out with tracking software for real-time integration with the Citymapper app, as well as passenger counting software and a driver app.

The pop-up bus route was designed as a live experiment, in coordination with Transport for London (TfL), to help the app’s developers test the new technology.

Citymapper believes it can improve existing routes and identify new and better ones.

Explaining how the idea came about, Citymapper said: “When we studied the existing public transit routes, we realised that they don’t always serve people best, nor evolve quickly enough to accommodate changes in the city.”

Buses need to evolve more, the company suggested: “They still roam around cities utilising old systems of operations and inefficient technology. If we’re going to solve urgent problems of congestion and infrastructure, we need buses to improve, to operate smarter. In the era of smartphones we can have responsive buses that react to real-time needs.

“Buses also get a bad rep, and are seen as a subpar experience. Even when they’re the best transport option, some people don’t take them. Perhaps we can help change that by improving the bus experience.”

It’s not yet clear how the service will develop, or how much it will cost passengers in the future.

“We will be trying new things with our smartbus and bus technology over the coming months,” Citymapper’s president and head of business, Omid Ashtari, told the Evening Standard.

“We are doing this to start a conversation about the future of cities and are looking forward to engage with anyone who wants to have it.”

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