We’re living in a time where radical and revolutionary changes are the new normal. We can do our grocery shopping in a few clicks, find love in a single swipe and holiday in strangers’ homes halfway across the world.
The possibilities are endless. And with all this change in the world, it’s no surprise that the demand for better public transport services is greater than ever. That’s why we’re doing things differently and experimenting with new technology and new ideas – it’s all about giving customers more control of their own travel experiences, with more choice, freedom and personalisation than ever before.
Just ask RITA
It’s a common question for commuters far and wide: “What will my trip to work look like today?”
Now, the answer is as simple as asking our Transport bot RITA: Real-time Intelligent Transport Assistant.
Transport bot is our very own digital assistant, ready to answer over 500 common transport questions over Facebook Messenger and transportnsw.info.
Powered by impressive artificial intelligence technologies, the Transport bot can let you know the closest bus or train service, when it’s leaving and even help you provide quick feedback about your transport experience.
While Transport bot is still being developed, it’s already integrated with voice tech, like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. That means in order to grab the latest transport info, all you need to do is ask!
Based in our Digital Products Delivery team at Transport for NSW, Dennis Chan has spent most of his career delving into the tricky world of artificial intelligence. So when our customers started wanting more personalised transport information, he knew exactly what they needed.
“Things really took off when I hacked together a couple of demos over the weekend to show how companies across the world were innovating their services with the help of chatbots and what I thought it could do for our Transport customers,” said Dennis.
This savvy thinking went a long way in building and improving the transport bot as we know it. And like a true digital driver, Dennis is already thinking about what’s next.
“Today, people spend a lot of time on mobiles and messaging apps with friends and family, however the future is all about voice. We’re living in a world where, people are increasingly talking to their smartphones and home speakers to get answers instantly in a hands-free manner,” he said.
“We’ve already made progress in helping customers get info through Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but we’re looking to take that further and make it even easier for our customers to connect with us.”
Making timetables a thing of the past
What if we took away timetables altogether?
That’s exactly what State Transit is doing in Sydney’s scenic Eastern Suburbs right now with a high frequency 'turn-up-and-go' bus service taking people between Bondi Beach and Circular Quay.
Locals and tourists alike can now jump on a 333 BondiLink every three minutes during peak times. And it means thousands of extra passengers can get a seat on the bus each week when travelling between two of Sydney’s most iconic destinations.
And it’s not just buses – when Sydney Metro kicks off between Chatswood and Rouse Hill next year, you won’t need a timetable. You’ll have a new turn-up-and-go service every four minutes during peak times to get you where you need to be.
Light rail services running in Sydney, Parramatta and Newcastle will also be turn-up-and-go, with services to local education, shopping and restaurant precincts running every 7.5 minutes in peak times.
After 18 years of transporting travellers across Sydney’s scenic Eastern Suburbs, State Transit driver James Parkes said the new BondiLink service is a real game changer for customers.
“For locals it means they can just walk down to the bus stop and jump on a service. And for tourists that might not know their way around, the new on board announcements let them know what the next stop is.”
“I think in summer it will be an even more popular route.”
Sign of the times
Thanks to innovative new electronic bus stops, we’re taking the guesswork out of the daily ride for bus customers.
The Sydney Coordination Office has trialled Kindle-like electronic information displays using GPS data to track buses, giving customers live updates on when their next service will turn up.
The displays can also provide alerts for disruptions and traffic incidents, so customers can better plan their trips or know if they’ve got time to grab that coffee before their bus arrives.
This new tech has already been a huge success at two of Sydney’s busiest bus stops – Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building.
Now they’re being used to keep StationLink customers informed during the Epping to Chatswood railway upgrade as we get our rail lines metro ready.
There are plans to roll out more of these savvy bus stops across our network. So, keep an eye out for one coming to a bus stop near you!
Sydney’s new metro trains are packed with cutting-edge technology to deliver faster, safer and more reliable journeys for our customers. Sydney Metro is already delivering Australia’s very first driverless trains – and now, we’ve got our first sneak peek of the country’s first platform screen doors at the recently completed Tallawong Station.
Glass screen doors along the edge of the platform, like those found in Singapore and London, are timed to open and close at the same time as the train doors to keep customers safe and objects like prams away from the tracks.
The physical barrier, along with level access between the platform and train and three double doors along the sides of each carriage, means that customers can get on and off the train safely. It also means that trains spend less time at the platform, helping us stick to reliable journey times!
Naomi is a part of the Community and Engagement team at Sydney Metro and said it’s exciting to see this Australian-first technology in place as the team nears the metro finish line.
“Safety is our number one priority at Sydney Metro. The new platform edge barriers and screen doors will transform the ways that we keep our customers safe,” she said.
“At our community day at Tallawong Station there was a lot of excitement around new features like the barriers.
“It gives people, especially those with children and prams, the confidence to wait for their service knowing that nothing can get past those barriers and onto the tracks.”
On demand is in demand
Ever wished your bus would show up where you need it, when you need it?
Our customers are demanding more flexibility than ever before. They need fast and reliable services that fit in with their busy lives.
That’s why we’re trialling new, personalised ways to travel right across the State. So, whether you’re in Shellharbour or Sylvania, you can instantly request a public transport service to suit your needs.
We’ve even cemented our first permanent on demand service in Sydney’s Inner West. That means between Rhodes, Burwood and Breakfast Point, you can book a bus to pick you up from a nearby location and take you to a transport hub, the local shops and a range of other services, like banks and hospitals – all with the tap of an app!
Age is not getting in the way of 95-year-old war widow and hospital volunteer Peggy Dickinson, who is among the more than 5,000 early adopters to use our Inner West on demand service. As a volunteer at Concord Hospital five days a week, Peggy has found booking the mini bus with the app from her home in Rhodes is the cheapest and easiest way of getting her there. Proof that our service is helping the elderly get places they wouldn’t have been able to before!
Find out if there is an on demand service running near you!