Go-Ahead is using data to make sure the right buses are in the right place at the right time

One of the largest transport companies in the UK is using the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and Power BI to bring data together in one place and use it to benefit passengers.

The Go-Ahead Group operates bus and rail services across the UK, Norway, Germany, Singapore and Ireland. It is using Azure Data Factory, Data Lake and Databricks to store and analyse data from across its operations.

By using Power BI to visualise anonymised data from the two million passenger journeys made on its buses every day, Go-Ahead management teams can gain insights such as passenger demand for services, journeys and estimated time until the next bus arrives at a particular stop.

That helps Go-Ahead to have the right buses in the right place and at the right time. It also helps them identify if bus stops are rarely used, so they can change the bus route to serve areas that are busier.

Kanwar Brar, Interim Group IT Director at Go-Ahead, said: “We wanted to be able to see which parts of our network are busy in real-time, and Azure enables us to do that. We have been able to implement Azure, Office 365 and Power BI quickly and they fit really well together. As we have broken down data silos at Go-Ahead, we have been able to grow our use of technology without a huge effort and at a lower cost. Azure is much cheaper than our on-premise data storage solution was.”

Two male friends on a bus look at a mobile phone

Around one billion passenger journeys are made on Go-Ahead’s services every year, and it is the largest operator of bus services in London. Go-Ahead’s rail operation is the busiest in the UK, responsible for around 30% of all train passenger journeys.

The company, which employs 30,000 people in the UK, is undergoing a digital transformation that will benefit passengers and staff.

For example, the company has rolled out the Go-Check app, which runs on Azure and can be used by bus drivers to ensure their vehicle is safe to be driven on the road.

Drivers log details and take photos of any defects on buses, and the information is sent to office staff, who can schedule repairs as needed, which can reduce operational costs and keep more buses running.

Kanwar Brar, Interim Group IT Director at Go-Ahead, said: “Drivers have to check their bus is roadworthy before they start their route; that’s the law. This used to be done using paper and a pen, which was not ideal. Now, the app takes our drivers through a step-by-step check routine, where issues and photos can be logged and acted upon immediately. We can also identify any vehicles that may not have been checked, to ensure we always have a safe fleet of buses on the road.”

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