New digital ‘Route Explorer’ puts buses at your fingertips

24 September 2014  •  Author(s): Transport for Greater Manchester

Passengers using Greater Manchester buses now have a new pocket-sized trip adviser following the launch of a new mobile-friendly tool which puts finding a bus right at their fingertips.

Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) Route Explorer asks people where they want to go and then shows them all the direct bus services that they can catch, when they leave, where the nearest bus stops are and how they can link up with trams and trains.

Route Explorer, which works on smartphones, tablets, Macs and PCs, is TfGM’s latest digital product designed to make life easier for anyone who wants to make a journey in Greater Manchester.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “Using this type of fingertip technology is the perfect way to help people plan their journeys on the go and to get around town.

“The Route Explorer doesn’t expect you to know very much about public transport and is extremely user friendly. We’ve even linked it with Google maps so it recognises shops and businesses, not just streets and postcodes. You can see a streetview of the stops you get on and off at – perfect if you are unfamiliar with the places you are travelling to.”

Once Route Explorer has found the start and end points of a direct journey, it links to an online bus timetable library, sending passengers to the timetable they need. The map shows the route and all the stops along the way.

TfGM has already created an app for Metrolink passengers and launched trial versions of an app which helped passengers on the free Manchester city centre Metroshuttle service know where they needed to get off for the shops they wanted.

Councillor Fender added: “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to plan and make journeys in Greater Manchester and the Route Explorer is just the latest stop on our digital journey to put this power at people’s fingertips.

“Further down the line people can expect e-tools which work for bus, rail and tram, have live information and are much more like personal travel planners. The easier we can make it for people, the more travel choices they have,” he said.

In developing the Route Explorer, funded by the Department for Transport’s Better Bus Area Fund, TfGM enlisted support from business and community groups, including Trafford Youth Council, Manchester Met Uni ICT, Greater Manchester Disability Design Reference Group, MediaCityUK, intu Trafford Centre, Cornerhouse and local bus operators.

There was also help from the next generation of transport users in the shape of Year 7 ICT students at Bolton’s Thornleigh Salesian School. They helped TfGM design a dedicated part of the Route Explorer just for school buses.

Councillor Mark Aldred, Deputy Chair of the TfGM Committee, visited the school to see for himself the work the pupils did. He said: “The addition of the school bus information is perfect for parents and pupils, particularly if they are new to an area or school, or are thinking of moving home and want to know quickly and easily what their transport options are.”

Gary Whiting, ICT lead teacher at the school added: “We were delighted to take part in this important project which will benefit thousands of people across the region. Our pupils used their work on this project to reach the finals of a national computer programme.”

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