Hallandstrafiken fills the buses with BI

Hallandstrafiken, responsible for all public transport in Halland County, has gained better and faster insights and control of its traffic patterns and operations using a new Business Intelligence and Analytics platform. The solution delivers constantly updated reports about the company’s operations, including punctuality and deviations between planned and produced traffic. In addition to huge time savings, it also leads to better cooperation with affiliated transport operators and faster decisions on improvements that will optimize traffic and reduce climate impact.

“Today, we have much better and significantly more accessible analytical capabilities and reports on our traffic operations. We can, at any time, get a quick and coherent overview and produce reports, with relevant key figures, across our network for a given time interval. The information is constantly up-to-date, so we can even get today's traffic at the touch of a button. The solution creates big time savings, both in terms of saved working time and agility as we now always have correct and updated reports on our operations and traffic patterns readily available”, says Martin Fjärdhammar, Traffic Developer at Hallandstrafiken AB.

Requires fresh data and deep insights

Hallandstrafiken is responsible for public transport in Halland County and produces around 50,000 rides every day. Its contracted public transport service providers run more than twenty million kilometers on roads and rails in Halland every year. This includes various bus services and the train operators Öresundstågen, Pågatågen, Västtågen and Krösatågen.

Until a couple of years ago, Hallandstrafiken's traffic developers, controllers and other decision-makers produced analysis reports themselves by manually retrieving raw data from various sources and compiling these in Excel. Some reports could take several days to compile and analyze. When Precio Fishbone’s business partner Bee Analytics showed Hallandstrafiken's management team what benefits a BI application can offer, Hallandstrafiken was quick to decide on implementing a customized solution.

The implementation project started in autumn 2020 and a pilot solution was in place in January 2021. Precio Fishbone has helped Bee Analytics to develop the application and to adapt it to Hallandstrafiken's needs and requirements.

“The work done by Precio Fishbone’s development team is truly impressive! They have been with us from the very start of our company and the development of our BI platform. We turned to Precio Fishbone as we knew that they are highly skilled and have extensive experience in developing Business Intelligence and Analytics solutions. Our collaboration runs smoothly and we create great results together”, Henrik Modig, CEO and co-owner of Bee Analytics, concludes.

The BI application is called the Public Transport Authority Application, PTA, as it’s developed primarily for public transport authorities and service providers. But it works just as well for other companies in the transport sector, such as airlines and regional bus and train operators.

“The BI application gives our customers the power to optimize every bus and train line based on data-driven and fact-based insights. For a regional public transport authority, such as Hallandstrafiken, it’s about maximizing the number of passengers on each bus and train based on regional requirements and the passengers’ needs. This reduces costs while benefiting the environment and the climate”, Henrik Modig points out.

“Our vision is to offer the citizens of Halland the world's best public transport. In order to achieve this and fill our buses and trains to the brim, we need to improve our punctuality, reliability, customer service and communication, as well as our bus and train routes, to make public transport more attractive. With the Bee Analytics solution, we can see exactly how all lines and transport companies are performing at any time. For example, we can see the punctuality in percentage for all lines and operators during a selected time interval”, Martin explains, adding:

“The lines and trips that are underperforming are flagged in a certain color depending on whether there are high delays, cancellations or early arrivals. In this way, we easily find bottlenecks, incorrectly calculated trips or other problems that need to be analyzed thoroughly and fixed. I use the solution primarily to continuously fine-tune our timetables for increased punctuality and so that they better reflect route length, demand, our capacity and other factors affecting production. Identifying and adjusting timetables that are not performing optimally is executed much faster today.”

Better customer service and improvement work

The cloud-based BI solution is mainly developed with and based on Microsoft Azure and Power BI. It retrieves tens of thousands of data points continuously from around ten different data sources. This includes, for instance, data on planned and produced traffic, which is retrieved every 5 minutes from the Trafiklab database. The data is very detailed and contains, among other things, information about each route as well as planned and implemented speed and driving time between the stops for each completed trip.

With the help of ready-made report models and charts, users can identify deviations in overview charts and then drill down into the data sets with pre-configured filters to investigate the causes. For example, if a certain line is flagged for recurring delays, Martin and his colleagues can easily filter out which trips and sections are particularly affected on that line. This gives them very detailed and accurate data to work from and to discuss with the transport company, operating the bus or train line in question, about how the problems can be remedied.

“It’s significantly easier to pin down exactly where and when bottlenecks occur in our production that lead to delays or canceled trips. Identifying excess capacity or overestimated planned driving times between stops, leading to inefficient production and early arrivals, has also become easier. We could get this information before, but since it took so much work and time for us to collect and compile data, we didn't always have the right information at hand. Now we can easily stay updated in all situations. It also creates consensus and facilitates our discussions with the transport service providers as we can now refer to facts instead of assumptions about problems and areas for improvement”, Martin underlines.


Image: Overview of a transport company's punctuality, delays and canceled trips during a year.

Martin says that today he can also respond to customers' questions and complaints much faster than before. The most common complaints are that a particular line or ride is "always late" or "often cancelled". In the past, Martin and his colleagues had to manually retrieve all the production history of the specific line and then analyze the deviations. It could take a whole working day. Now it takes a minute.

“In addition to this leading to considerably faster and better customer service, it saves us a lot of time and we can therefore help more customers and provide them with well-founded answers while freeing up time for other tasks.”

Infinite possibilities to modernize public transport

The application also collects customer survey data, sales statistics and more, and compiles this into easy-to-read reports. With constantly updated key figures and charts of production, sales, demand and customer satisfaction, Hallandstrafiken always has access to a clear and true overview of its performance. This makes it easier to continuously improve and modernize the operation and the offer to citizens so that more people choose to travel by public transport.

“There are endless possibilities to combine and analyze traffic and business data to discover new patterns, deficiencies and potential for improvement. Bee Analytics’ BI application can be integrated with more data sources and further developed with new algorithms and AI to extract more data and gain better knowledge and understanding of how public transport can be modernized. For us developers, it's both fun and very rewarding working on a solution that leads to great environmental and societal benefits”, says Clinton McCabe, Head of Data and Analytics at Precio Fishbone.