FutureFive New Zealand - Consumer technology news & reviews from the future
Story image
Wellington bus drivers under scrutiny following $3m tech revamp
Thu, 8th Aug 2013
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Wellington bus users are set to enjoy smoother, safer public transport services and reduced fuel emissions as a result of NZ Bus’ $3 million investment in driver training and new telematics technology.

To be installed across its GO Wellington and Valley Flyer fleets, the new telematics system features an in-cab unit that monitors driving behaviour and alerts drivers when they are approaching the safety or efficiency thresholds NZ Bus has set for particular behaviours.

Known collectively as RIBAS, such guidelines include ride comfort (over-revving and cornering), excessive idling, harsh braking, harsh acceleration and speeding.

For each different behaviour a visual signal starts out green, changing to amber when the threshold is being approached and then to red when it is crossed.

NZ Bus CEO Zane Fulljames says the installation of telematics in Wellington has been brought forward by two months following its successful introduction in Auckland.

“Drivers have never before been able to receive this level of objective feedback," he says. "Telematics provides them with direct, accurate data.

"They can then use it to self-manage their performance and we can use it to identify patterns over time so we know which drivers will benefit the most from further training.

“We first introduced this system in Auckland in May and are already seeing the results, with driver performance improving by over 70% in the first month.

"The response from drivers has been brilliant. They have embraced the technology because it recognises good performance.”

According to Gartner, Telematics refers to the use of wireless devices and “black box” technologies to transmit data in real time back to an organisation.

Typically, as in this case, it’s used in the context of automobiles, whereby installed or after-factory boxes collect and transmit data on vehicle use, maintenance requirements or automotive servicing.

The information generated also details the real time bus trips are taking around the city at all times of the day throughout the week, tracking the speed the bus is able to travel at in different locations depending on the level of traffic congestion.

As a result, the technology enables schedules to be as accurate as possible and provides valuable data for planning the shape of Wellington’s integrated public transport network into the future.

“If we are going to boost the use of public transport then we need to be continually innovating, investing and delivering reliable services," Fulljames says.

"A big part of this is consistency and introducing telematics enables us to be more efficient and cost effective in our operations.

“We have invested $80 million into our Wellington business over the past five years and are absolutely committed to working with the Greater Wellington Regional Council to improve the reliability, convenience and comfort of public transport services for the public.”

Telematics will firstly be installed on GO Wellington buses, with the Valley Flyer fleet to follow in October.

Will telematics technology improve your public transport experience? Tell us your thoughts below