Traveline Information Ltd

Sector: Public Sector Transport

About the company

Traveline is a public-private partnership encompassing local and national transport companies, local authorities and passenger groups who have come together to bring routes and times for all travel in Great Britain by rail, bus, coach and ferry. This service is provided via multiple channels such as telephone, web, native mobile applications and print media.

In March 2014, mxData was selected by Traveline to supply the UK national public transport journey planner web application, which included the user interface and various server-side components to deliver multi-modal journey planning with transit accessibility information.

The service was to be used as a replacement for Transport Direct, launched in 2004 as the first journey planner to cover England, Scotland and Wales. Transport Direct was closed in September 2014, after serving up more than 160 million travel information requests, as well as helping spectators plan their routes to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The new solution would not only need to handle a similar amount of traffic to that which is was replacing, but also designed to be flexible and extensible and to take advantage of developments in modern web browsers and mobile devices. The user interface was a key challenge, as the journey planner was to be inserted into a new website designed and developed by another supplier who stipulated where and how much canvas could be used. There was also a desire to simplify the initial form as the Transport Direct journey planner was somewhat complicated and discouraging to new users.

Traveline’s ultimate goal was to offer their users an intuitive end-to-end experience including enhanced services such as personalised timetables and real-time information. mxData was chosen as one of the suppliers to provide the enhanced UI and the associated server components for timetable generation and so on.

The challenge

The initial challenge for Traveline was working with multiple stakeholders and multiple suppliers, some of whom were based overseas. To begin the project and give Traveline total peace of mind, mxData initiated kick off meetings with all involved parties to evaluate the deliverables, discuss the project with the key decision-makers and map out timescales. The project was then run to Agile methodologies with client access to our JIRA issue tracking system.

Afterwards, the detailed requirements and specifications of the project were fed back to all stakeholders to ensure total clarity from the start and on-going project management support.

In developing the solution, mxData were required to work with a number of different data sources (including both real-time and static transportation data) in a variety of formats. As experts in data aggregation and transformation, mxData employed our GeoHawk platform to join everything together from input disambiguation to routing and timetable datasets. This was accomplished with no disruption to the business or to any live Traveline services.

The solution

To create the public transport journey planner for Traveline, mxData worked with another selected partner specialising in the front-end web design and a further partner who provided the journey planning engine. Once the design had been finished, mxData hosted the website for Traveline utilising Amazon Web Services cloud-based technology.

The journey planning and associated travel tools within the website were developed independently by mxData, using the SilverRail journey planning engine as the backbone. The UI was delivered as a customisable JavaScript library and can be considered as a single-page app, offering users a contemporary interface minimal latency.

To ensure the solution provided Traveline’s users with a service that matched or exceed the functionality of the soon-to-be-superseded Transport Direct website, mxData developed a wrapper journey planning API in GeoHawk. GeoHawk provided the functionality for the UI to enable users to refine their journey searches by specific routes or stops as well as view further transport information including timetables, live departures and interactive maps.

traveline-website-design-mxdata

Results

Traveline have a new website and associated library services that offer users a much improved and intuitive interface. Users are offered better, more accurate results which are processed and rendered in a much more timely fashion.

Traveline were delighted with the results delivered by mxData. In the first six months after launch, the new Traveline website was attracting over 200,000 visitors initially on average per month. Since then this figure has continued to rise to around 50,000 hits per day.

Next steps

Further enhancements are underway and these include customisable widgets, offering all the functionality described above, for insertion into third party websites, the inclusion of relational POI localities for Journey Planning and also further improvements to the timetable functionality, such as personalised HTML timetables.