London Calling: Supporting TfL Through COVID-19

From Web Client Access through to the Internet of Things: How Trapeze is supporting Transport for London through Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for us all. The Trapeze team has been focused on providing support and guidance for TfL in relation to immediate changes to working processes, as well as considering how we can assist tomorrow and beyond.

Working from Home: Initial Response

As TfL staff transitioned to working from home there was a sudden increase in requirement for Web Client access to the iBus system and an extra 40 licenses were issued, taking the total to 100. Additionally, once staff began accessing the system remotely it became apparent that for many staff, iPads were a common choice of device. We therefore undertook an urgent development to ensure the web client software was compatible with the iPad’s native Safari browser.

This development, delivered free of charge, ensured that TfL staff were able to continue to monitor the network while working from home.

Implementing Socially Distant Workplaces

Trapeze engineers have responded quickly to support the relocation of workstations at TfL’s Network Management Control Centre (NMCC) to ensure they meet current government social distancing guidelines.

TfL NMCC Business Logistics Manager Neil Wood said the fast turnaround “enabled us to rank up the number of operators taking Emergency calls from Bus drivers just in time for an expected increase in passengers and also traffic across London’s roads…. I would like to pay special thanks to (Trapeze’s) Robert Vas for the professional manner in which they tacked the task, while maintaining social distancing in the NMCC.”

In addition to the changes at NMCC, Trapeze has also been supporting Abellio to implement social distanced workplaces at both the Battersea garage and iBus controller room at Twickenham.

ibus-controller-room

Socially distant workstations implemented at Abellio’s Battersea garage’s iBus controller room

Support Tomorrow

Web Client Interventions
Recognising that the ability to work effectively from remote locations is more important than ever before, we have begun work on an evolution to the Web Client access system. The new version will enable staff to not only monitor the network, but also to actually make adjustments and interventions.

This is a vital step towards ensuring users can continue the full range of iBus controls when working remotely, enabling them to make adjustments quickly and easily in response to any disruption.

Passenger Loading Information
In the months to come it will be vital to restore confidence in bus services, while also ensuring passenger and driver safety through the consistent observance of social distancing rules.

To support this, Trapeze is considering the potential for drivers to record current passenger load information, and the loading level – in relation to the capacity in line with current social distancing measures – then be communicated out to on-street signs and mobile applications.

In practice, passenger information can either display the regular service information, or present “BUS FULL” in instances where the vehicle is already at capacity.

Into the Future

Post Covid-19, the world is likely to be somewhat different to what we knew before. Recognising this, we are committed to helping Transport for London to meet the requirements of a changing world.

While we will continue to engage in dialogue in relation to required changes, Trapeze’s unique understanding of London and TfL means we can already predict some of the improvements that we expect will be undertaken:

  1. Manage costs by updating the London fleet over time, as part of the annual ‘churn’. This will remove the requirement for a single up-front investment.
  2. Explore the potential for Business Intelligence tools to analyse all aspects of operation and identify potential improvements and cost savings.
  3. Continue to work with ITxPT to promote open standards, and consider specific benefits to TfL from Internet of Things (IOT) technology in relation to passenger information, vehicle support and conditioning.
  4. Explore how the Trapeze AVL System can support the vehicle status monitoring of the battery-powered electric buses now entering service. This will offer transport service providers a better overview of the technical status of their battery powered fleet, along with data on charging times, charge levels, range, and charging station availability, as well as other useful management features.

Please be assured that the Trapeze team remains fully committed to supporting TfL, and that we are entirely focused on continuing our successful collaborative journey into the next 15 years.

In the coming weeks we will expand on the themes outlined in this document. In the meantime, if you wish to discuss any of the elements, please do get in touch.