Citymapper trials popup 'smart' bus with TfL support


Transport app developer Citymapper has launched a free experimental ‘popup’ bus service with a promise to use technology to rethink how buses operate.

The new CMX1 service began on Tuesday (8 May) on a circular route in central London and is running again on Wednesday.

The bus has a screen showing passengers where they are

Although the service has a fixed route, an algorithm decides when buses show up based on their viability and frequency.

The firm said it was ‘reinventing the entire software stack for running and operating a bus’.

It said solving urgent problems of congestion and infrastructure in the era of smartphones requires buses to operate smarter with responsive buses that react to real-time needs.

The experimental service is backed by Transport for London (TfL). Michael Hurwitz, TfL’s director of transport innovation, said: ‘We work closely with technology companies around the world to support innovation that could improve transport in London. We are very much open to new ideas and are actively engaging tech companies and innovators on some of the challenges facing the city.

‘Citymapper have some very interesting ideas and we’re in discussion with them about how they might work in London.’

The new service follows a fixed route in central London

The bus has tracking software for real-time integration with the Citymapper app, as well as passenger counting, and a driver app. Citymapper said it was also introducing a smaller, nimbler vehicle that it believes necessary in crowded cities.

The Citymapper bus has an online route page on which passengers can watch the buses move around a map in real-time. Predicted arrival times will be shown on bus stop departure boards.

On board the bus there is a screen that shows passengers where they are and what’s coming up on the route, as well as USB charging ports.

The firm described the buses as ‘multimodal ready’, combining with other transit routes when it makes sense, and ‘integrated with the existing infrastructure of the city’.


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