Travel Essex

Improving public transport information for Essex residents

Orange background with a laptop screen in the corner, featuring the Travel Essex website page

The Challenge

How many of us know where we can get to from the nearest bus stop to our home or workplace?

For most of us non-public transport users, the answer is ‘we don’t know’ – so why would we consider public transport as a viable option?

This question was at the core of the challenge posed by the Essex County Council Transport team in their brief.

The phrasing related to the issue of behaviour change towards adoption of public transport being subject to 'high cognitive load' associated with understanding transport schedules.

With over 5000 designated bus stops, 1072 commercial service routes and demand-responsive transport (DRT) services covering urban, semi-urban, rural, and emerging residential areas - there's a lot of information about buses alone - to say nothing of rail, taxi and other more modern modes of transport currently available.

The challenge was to understand how we can present transport information in a format that is much more contextualised, relevant, joined up and actionable in order to surpass the limitations of traditional timetables and route maps.

A screenshot of the Travel Essex webpage featuring planning a bus route

What we did

How can we approach seeing complex information through a more human lens?

Following best practices outlined in the Digital Service Standard, we sought this answer by asking the public.

Our co-design sessions and interviews covered a wide range of public transport users and ‘potential’ users ranging from disabled user groups, elderly travellers, regular commuters, SEN passengers and private car users.

We asked these users about the challenges of using public transport and explored ways as to how the process could be tuned more effectively to their needs.

A keystone outcome was the ‘Discover Bus’ concept which provides a method of seeing the public transport network through the lens of a specific bus stop.

The interface supports the natural human questions of ‘where can I get to from here’, ‘what services are available’, ‘which direction does the bus come from’, ‘will it be here on time’, ‘how much does it cost’, ‘how busy is it going to be’ and ‘how do I get back again’.

View from the back of people sitting on a bus
A blue bus at a station


Demystifying buses!

Rachael Price from Essex City Council (ECC) said, "Working with Ember Technology Ltd, (we) have launched a new TravelEssex website which demystifies buses for the residents of Essex.
The website provides seamless access to all bus information, journey planning tools, maps, bus stop information, school transport provision, concessionary bus passes, Demand Responsive Transport, Park and Ride services, and live bus tracking.  The website is the first part of the contract to be delivered. 
The second stage will see the launch of a secure information portal which will allow information to be shared securely between the Authority and transport providers."

The Travel Essex website is fully mobile responsive and with live bus tracking it makes for a fantastic public transport companion app in it’s own right.

Take a look at the website here:

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