A bus company war looks to be getting technical - with rival firms battling to win over customers with smart-phone-lead gizmos.
A fortnight ago a row broke out between the Langley Mill-based operator Trent Barton and competitior yourbus, after yourbus started accepting Trent Barton’s zigzag tickets.
Trent Barton said the firm was trying to steal its custom, and has now hit back with the launch of ‘trentbarton live’ – an online tracking service, which will allow folk to keep tabs on where there is bus is and whether it is running late.
Commercial director for the firm Alex Hornby, said: “Using our free website, which has been specially optimised for tablet or mobile use, customers can choose their usual stops, and the system will automatically notify them when the next few buses are on their way.
“It will provide a real boost for people living in small towns or rural areas where buses may be less frequent.
“Whether they’re in the country or city, customers will be able to decide when it’s best to leave for the bus stop or even if there’s enough time to order another pint.”
Trent Barton says the technology will help the company to know ‘precisely’ where its buses are at all times, improving ‘behind-the-scenes operations’.
It says the new system will not completely replace traditional timetables and will also provide live information for customers at bus stops equipped with special screens.
Mr Hornby added: “We may be celebrating our 100th anniversary this year, but we certainly like moving with the times when it comes to improving our service for our customers and adopting the very latest technology.”
But marketing manager of Heanor-based Yourbus John Everill, says this technology is ‘nothing new’. and has already been winning favour with passengers through offering free, open to us Wifi on all its services.
Yourbus is still accepting the £5 ZigZag tickets, which entitles passengers to a day’s unlimited travel on Trent Barton buses, operating across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
Mr Hornby had called the move a ‘blatant attempt’ to take his customers.
But Mr Everill played down any suggestions of unfair play and said the loss-making ploy was all just healthy competition on a service market century-old Trent Barton has dominated.
“It’s just competition,” he said. “It’s no different to Tescos and Sainsbury’s opening supermarkets near the other - it if brings down fares for passengers that’s all good.
“They’ve dropped some of the weekly ticket fares by £10.”