Getting the National Express bus network on board with data

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Most Brits would think of intercity coach travel or airport transfers when the brand National Express comes to mind. So many may not know that two thirds of its journeys are carried out by third party providers.
“All the vehicles are the same and they have to adhere to a set of operational standards,” said Frank Kozurek, director of business intelligence at National Express.
In the past, National Express would give the journey figures to the third parties on Excel spreadsheets once a month, which Kozurek said was “not particularly actionable.” He said that to improve this situation, QlikView was implemented in the middle of 2013 to bring together the disparate reporting of business intelligence.
Furthermore, to assist with the delivery of performance figures to third parties, Qlik Sense was brought in, as well as QlikView Extranet, an externally-facing interface of Qlik.
The use of QlikView Extranet meant that data and analytics could be sent directly to the third party operators, giving them insights as to how well they were delivering service on behalf of National Express. “We have made some real improvements as a business as a direct result of that in terms of operational standards, and therefore customer experience,” said Kozurek.
More recently eighteen months ago, National Express became responsible for the Arriva bus services around Birmingham and Coventry. Kozurek and his team decided that because of this, they needed to create a centre of excellence for business intelligence. “One of the key principles of the centre of excellence is to have a common set of tools and technologies. From that we would then get its synergies and opportunity to scale, and also portability,” he explained.
To assist with scaling and portability, QlikSense was implemented in the bus business unit with National Express using the tool to intuitively map the bus network. “Looking at a map, it is a lot easier to see and interpret bus routes and stops. What we like about the mapping process is that people can zoom around three or four areas, specific regions, specific corridors that have got multiple routes on them.”
Another significant benefit of the new solution is visibility of customer patronage at a much more granular level. Kozurek and his team can see where passengers are boarding their services and therefore the actual utilisation of the network. “You could select different corridors and look at what routes are going through there and what is the mix of people getting on those routes. It is really enabling us now to help optimise the network. We want to make sure we are serving areas where there is demand.”

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