Busways is a transport solution provider that partners with Government agencies to operate innovative, reliable and flexible public transport services to Australian communities. The company provides school, route and on demand bus services along with expertise in transport operations, scheduling, customer experience, asset management and marketing and communications. An Australian family-owned company, Busways has grown from humble beginnings in 1942, with one car servicing one suburb, to a Australia’s largest privately-owned transportation service provider delivering over 26 million passenger journeys per year. A focus on customer experience, quality service and employee development, combined with an ongoing commitment to innovation, has been the driving force underpinning this remarkable journey.
In 2020, Busways set out under its Smart Depot project to digitally transform operations at Busways’ 18 depots to leverage the capability of a bespoke software system developed by Busways’ inhouse software team, called HIVE. This was one of the most significant transformations in depots in the company’s history. HIVE was the result of a three-year project to transform the business by digitising formerly paper-based processes, automating workflows, and integrating systems to achieve operating efficiencies and improve management of on-time bus service delivery for customers. Hosting three critical functions of a bus depot — rostering, dispatch management and fleet allocation – in one digital tool, HIVE has resulted in a significant improvement in shifts leaving the depot on time, up from 88 per cent to around 98 per cent.
Prior to the Smart Depot model, Busways used multiple paper-based methods for service delivery functions. This type of record keeping was inefficient and high risk, resulting in many hours of administration tasks, lack of data validation and room for human error, difficulty in workflows and reporting, and lack of timeliness in updating data, which had flow on effects to efficient operations.
Working with our Depot, Assets and Operations teams, Busways’ IT team built the system to power Smart Depots, designing the depot workflow, creating the interfaces for driver touchpoints and leveraging data and interconnectivity for continual improvement. The tools and systems linked to Busways’ Smart Depots allow for frictionless operation between drivers, operations, maintenance and the Operations Control Centre, meaning collaboration from each department was essential during the implementation process. It was a large-scale implementation, across numerous departments that housed hundreds of staff. Collaboration on the project included ensuring the availability of staff for training, availability of a dedicated, trained staff member to answer staff questions and ensuring required rooms were clear for installation of the software and devices which is difficult when bus services need to keep running.
As the benefits of each element of the program became apparent, changes related to the rollout of further program functionalities were widely accepted. Busways’ Smart Depot solution has enhanced the synergies between technology, people, and assets within the company. Building robust, legislation-compliant workflows and controls within these systems has increased efficiency during business as usual and provided powerful tools to support delivery teams during network disruption.