Industry Spotlight – Location Aware Apps in the Transport Industry

By: Bradley White | Published: November 21, 2017

Getting from A to B has never been easier, with the modern wayfarer now being thoroughly spoilt for choice when it comes to planning a journey. However, this has also left travellers with higher expectations than ever before, making transport companies desperate to offer the best possible experience. As a result the last few years have seen a rise in location aware apps in the transport industry – improving the services offered by public transport companies and even leading to the creation of ride-sharing apps, in the form of Uber and Lyft.

Location Aware Apps and Public Transport

In an attempt to make travel stress-free and simple, many public transport companies have begun to incorporate location tracking technology into their mobile apps. A particularly common feature is the ability for users to see real-time updates on arrival times to keep them in the loop. First Bus, Virgin Trains and National Express are just a few examples of companies that have incorporated location tracking technology into their apps to offer better services for customers.

How often have you wanted to catch a bus but not known where your nearest bus stop is? No doubt this is something that most of us have experienced at one time or another, particularly in an unfamiliar town or city. First Bus have incorporated location tracking technology in their mobile app in an attempt to make this a thing of the past by displaying nearby stops on a map of the local area. The app also lets users get real-time updates on bus arrival times so they aren’t left wondering where their bus is if it doesn’t turn up on time.

It’s also in the interests of public transport companies to make it as simple as possible for travellers to plan a journey and buy tickets, but Virgin Trains have used location technology to take this to a whole new level. Their app is able to predict a passenger’s journey by using their current location and records of their previous journeys and then suggesting tickets they might want to purchase. Like many other similar location aware apps, the Virgin Trains app gives users the ability to view real-time updates including information about departure times and any delays.

While T.S Eliot may have believed that “The journey, not the destination matters”, anyone who has been on a cross country coach trip will likely beg to differ. This is why National Express have used GPS technology to build a journey tracker feature into their mobile app. This makes it easy for passengers to view how much of their journey they have left while they travel.

Another way for travellers to plan journeys across the UK is through The UK Bus Checker App. The app combines several location based features to make planning a journey a breeze, whether by bus, train or tram. The app utilises GPS to give users live updates on bus times at any of the 300,000 stops across Great Britain as well as providing real time information regarding any diversions, closures or cancellations. In addition to this, the app even promises to prevent users ever missing their stop again with the Stop Alert feature.

Navigation App in a Car

Ride-sharing Apps

The past few years has seen an explosion in ride-sharing apps, all made possible by location tracking technology. The most famous of these is Uber – currently boasting a massive 40 million monthly users – and as one of the world’s most popular apps it’s often found itself embroiled in controversy.

Following in Uber’s footsteps a number of other companies have added their own twist to the ride sharing formula, all of which rely on location aware apps for drivers to find customers quickly and easily.

Uber itself has two location aware apps: one for the driver and one for the customer. The user’s app pinpoints their location and allows them to find drivers nearby and request a lift. The driver’s app, on the other hand, contains navigation meaning that they have everything they need to pick up customers and deliver them to their destination contained in one neat package.

Uber’s primary competitor, Lyft follows the same concept, even to the point of recently working with Google Maps to create a navigation feature in their driver app as prior to this drivers had to exit Lyft and use a third party navigation app. For both Uber and Lyft location based technology is essential, without the ability to pinpoint a customer’s position the app wouldn’t be able to function.

Bristol based business, Slide, has used location technology to offer a convenient alternative for commuters. Slide aims to be more convenient and reliable than a bus but cheaper than getting a taxi. To use the app, commuters can either book a ride in advance or up to 10 minutes before they travel. Users are then paired with other commuters wanting to travel to a similar location and a route is calculated to drop everyone at their respective places of work. The app uses location based technology to work out where to pick customers up from by allocating a pick up point that is less than 5 minutes walk from their home or place of work. The app is also able to give users an accurate estimate of their arrival time based on current traffic by using GPS to track the app user’s position whilst they are travelling.

The Benefits Are Clear

It’s evident that the transport industry has benefitted massively from the use of location based services and the companies that are taking advantage of the technology are gaining an edge over their competitors. If you are wondering whether a location aware app would be able to benefit your business then contact BMDI today and we can help you find potential uses for location tracking technology in your particular industry.