Firms go digital to win passengers

Your Bus on Heanor Market Place.
Your Bus on Heanor Market Place.
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A bus company war in Heanor looks to be getting technical - with rival firms battling to win over customers with smart-phone-lead gizmos.

A fortnight ago bosses of Langley Mill operator Trent Barton questioned Yourbus’s tactic to claim custom from its popular H1 Heanor to Derby route by accepting its rival’s ZigZag day tickets.

In response Yourbus said the loss-making ploy was all just healthy competition on a service market century-old Trent Barton has dominated.

Yourbus has already been winning favour with passengers through offering free, open to us Wifi on all its services.

This week, Trent Barton is hitting 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 the Heanor Gate Industrial Estate based Yourbus John Everill, says this technology is ‘nothing new’.

Yourbus has had success attracting smart phone users by offering offers passcode-free Wifi on its busses which allows folk to browse - or download songs and files - without using up their own monthly data allowance.

He said: “Someone ‘tweeted’ me the other day that they downloaded a whole album while they were on the bus.”

Yourbus is still accepting Trent Barton’s ZigZag tickets on its Y1 Heanor to Derby service - but Mr Everill played down any suggestions of unfair play.

“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.”

YourBus, based at Heanor Gate Industrial Estate, launched in 2009. The Trent bus company, which merged with Barton Transport Ltd in 1989, is celebrating it’s centenary year this year. Let us know your thoughts on the two service via news@rhnews.co.uk.