Virtual bus launched by Brighton & Hove
Brighton & Hove and Metrobus is launching VirtualBus360, a ‘virtual bus’ designed to provide people with information about the operator’s services.
The Go-Ahead-owned company’s new online offering provides people with information on bus services from real customers, bus drivers and customer service colleagues, as they share their own travelling experiences and tips in 23 separate videos. The videos and online information cover every aspect of bus travel including accessibility, tickets and payments, journey planning, real-time bus information and environmental and technological features.
People can use their phones, tablets or computers to ‘board’ a virtual bus and check out seating; as well as the manual ramp; luggage racks; handrails and grab poles. They can also learn about the hearing loop system, GPS tracking, CCTV, USB charging points, anti-virus air filters, Wi-Fi and next stop audio and visual announcements and even ring the bells.
VirtualBus 360 was designed through a collaboration involving the technical expertise of 4WardFutures, Brighton & Hove Buses and Metrobus, and the support of a number of charities including the Grace Eyre Foundation, Guide Dogs, Speak Out, Switchboard and Possability People. 4WardFutures is a Warrington-based charity working to empower young people to take control of their future careers.
“This is just the beginning of our use of virtual reality to make travel easier” – Brighton & Hove and Metrobus Managing Director, Martin Harris
Brighton & Hove and Metrobus Managing Director, Martin Harris, said: “VirtualBus360 connects some of the high quality elements of the service as it is today, with a vision of the near future showing how we can integrate all forms of sustainable travel with great information and facilities for all bus users. This adds another way customers can choose to receive their information.
“We really want to hear from people about their experience of using VirtualBus, along with any ideas about how it could be improved or developed. This is just the beginning of our use of virtual reality to make travel easier.
“I’d like to thank all the charities who have contributed to this work, and Grace Eyre in particular, for their insights and sustained input into this project. It was through discussions with them about how we could integrate some of this real-life confidence building training into a virtual experience that VirtualBus360 came about.”
Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users UK, said: “This is a fantastic initiative that takes the guesswork out of planning a journey. For anyone with a mobility issue, disability or mental health issue, or for those of us who just need a bit of reassurance before travelling, this is a game-changer. Other transport providers need to take note!”