So, Jason, we’ve had our Road Restriction Alerts solution available for some time now. Could you run us through the new functionality we’ve just launched?
Our Road Restriction Alerts feature launched back in 2021, at a time when Covid was still very much present and driver shortages meant that many drivers were working in unfamiliar areas or in different vehicles to what they may normally drive, which therefore could increase the possibility of a bus venturing down a road it couldn’t safely traverse due to its height and width.
We tackled this by extending the Ticketer System to include vehicle dimensions, and together with the full national gazetteer of height and width restrictions on all UK roads, the Ticketer ETMs could detect if the vehicle had approached a height or width restriction that the vehicle could not pass. The vehicle dimensions are useful to include as not all vehicles are alike, and so there is no need to warn the driver about a bridge if the bridge does not pose an issue for the vehicle in question (such as a single decker for example).
Since then, we’ve been talking to our customers and listening to their feedback on that release and how there are a host of other reasons that fall into the category of a road restriction, which aren’t necessarily to do with the width and height of the bus, and how it would be useful if the same approach and solution could be applied to those examples.
So, we’ve taken their feedback on board and have now delivered an enhanced solution that brings a bus load (pun intended!) of new functionality into the mix, as we’ve now given as much ownership and autonomy as possible to our operators so that they can set different types of restrictions within the system as and when needed.
You’ve got us intrigued. How exactly does it work?
Customers using our RRA feature will now be able to add different types of restrictions in their area. First off, we’ve introduced tailored navigational restrictions within the Ticketer Portal. For example, if you’ve got buses turning left out of a depot when they should be turning right, you can add a ‘No Left Turn’ alert on the system to avoid confusion moving forward.
Customers can also set restrictions which may be more temporal that could affect routes. We’re coming off the back of a bit of a battering what with Storm Babet, Ciaron and Debbie deciding to drop in one after the other. All of which has caused a lot of disruption to services, be it debris on the road or flooded roads. Operators can now add known, or reported, road closures/warnings in the system so that drivers get notified about these problem areas or roads to help avoid potential issues or delays. Helpful as we go further into the winter months with possible snow disruptions or icy roads and then spring with what appears to be increasing likelihood of heavy showers increasing flood risks.
With these type of restrictions, customers can also set estimated time frames which automatically turn the alert off for drivers after the specified end date. Which means our customers don’t have to remember to take the temporary restriction off the system amongst the 101 other things they’ve got to remember to do that week.
How do the alerts pull through?
One of the benefits of Ticketer’s solution is that we make use of both audible and visual notifications of the alert to the driver. As well as the very distinctive audible alert, our solution takes advantage of the full ETM screen to add context to the type of restriction being approached. The easily identifiable icons can visually communicate what type of restriction is in place and we’re also giving operators the chance to provide accompanying text just in case there’s more context they want to provide. Drivers can therefore quickly grasp what’s up ahead and act accordingly.
What do you think is most exciting about the new features?
I think it’s the wider set of use-cases that this new extension offers operators within the existing framework. Whereas previously our solution had been more geared towards the dimensions of the vehicle driven, our enhanced RRA solution now allows much more versatility.
So previously, operators who only run single-deckers probably considered they wouldn’t make use of such a feature. Now all vehicles can benefit from this feature as operators can essentially add anything that they deem a restriction on their portal, for however long they want. Christmas Markets, cup-run football matches, big name concerts, local marathons, street parties, you name it. The possibilities of how this feature could be used is now limitless.
What does the implementation process look like?
For any customers who are currently on our RRA solution, you get all this new functionality included and there’s no extra fee. The Ticketer Portal has already been upgraded with the UI to allow you to create your new restrictions, but your ETMs won’t be able to show those to the driver until your ETMs have been upgraded to the latest version. So, if you reach out to our friendly customer support team at firstname.lastname@example.org then they can have you up and running in no time at all.
For anyone who’s not yet got RRA, the process is also super simple. There’s no hardware setup or installation involved to your existing ETMs, again you just need to contact our friendly customer support team and they’ll be able to get you moving with this.