Passenger Transport magazine’s exposé of UK public transport apps hit our desk earlier this week. The report reveals that while some are amongst the best apps available, others “risk losing a slice of the action” when it comes to engaging with customers.

iPhone close up, showing app icons
Passenger Transport’s report includes 85 UK-based public transport smartphone apps.

Happily, Passenger inboxes and phones have been enjoying the sound of delighted customers and well-wishing colleagues ever since the article was published. In the report, spanning 85 smartphone apps, Passenger was identified as the top provider of bus apps in the UK. 

“The 11 highest rated bus operator apps were all developed by Bournemouth-based Passenger, with Blackpool Transport, Warrington’s Own Buses, Borders Buses and Nottingham City Transport all possessing apps with a 4.8-star rating – a result that exceeds the 4.7-star rating achieved by the popular Domino’s Pizza app.”

The reference to Domino’s comes in response to Transport Focus’ research earlier this year, into what young people want when it comes to public transport. Variations of the headline, “Why can’t using public transport be as easy as ordering pizza?”, ensued.

The report from Passenger Transport magazine is the first of its kind and the team at Passenger are delighted by what the research has uncovered. Working closely with customers over the last few years, it is an endorsement of the approach Passenger has adopted.

“Creating ‘top-rated’ apps is more about culture than tech”, says Passenger CEO, Tom Quay, “Most software teams can design and create features. But not everyone approaches them in the same way. 

“We’ve built a system, Passenger Cloud, that makes it easy for our customers to manage the data and content in the apps. We’ve designed this in conjunction with our customers, who give us regular feedback. We combine that with the feedback from app users, what’s happening in the wider market and then plan together which areas we need to tackle next.”

Passenger is also actively collaborating with industry colleagues at organisations such as the Department for Transport and Transport for the North. This means that the experienced transport technology team at Passenger can help represent its customers to shape the future of new rules and systems, such as the new Bus Open Data Service, that will have an impact on their daily workloads.

“Before attempting to build a solution, we must first understand the problem” continues Quay. “It sounds obvious, but there are plenty of examples of great software that has failed because it is attempting to solve the wrong problem or where decision-makers have just decided they alone have the answer.” 

Passenger has fostered a culture where everyone is empowered to challenge the status quo. The team brings a unique blend of both transport sector knowledge and digital technology expertise to the table, setting itself apart from others. Something that the app rating report makes clear for all to see. 

Quay continues, “We want to make systems that our customers enjoy using too. We want their passengers to be delighted and surprised that their experiences with public transport can be enjoyable and easy.” 

After 10 years of writing software for public transport, it’s clear that Passenger understands the size of the mountain. 

“It’s a big one, and we’re relishing the climb. We’re taking it one day at a time and doing it together. Together as a team, and together with the many brilliant personalities among our customers. Great software and the great experiences it can deliver are built on trust. The ratings show that we’ve helped our customers to build brand trust with their customers”, he says.

Just like buses themselves, apps that stand still have little impact. Releasing an app without continuing to support and evolve it with the customer’s needs in mind will set off alarm bells for passengers. Passenger’s commercial model means that it continues to develop and manage each app that it deploys on behalf of its customers. It provides easy to access support and helps to make sure that operator staff really get to grips with the impact that digital can have on their role and overall business.

You can download a full copy of the Passenger Transport magazine article here – please feel free to share it far and wide!

Feature Image photo by William Hook on Unsplash