Better bus stop information, improved timetable booklets and the easy supply of data to Traveline are among the benefits which Herefordshire Council has realised since adopting Omnibus software.
The impetus to move away from the previous timetable data system, which was built around word processing software, was the need to supply data to Traveline in an acceptable format. “We looked around at software and decided that the Omnibus suite of programs was the best for our purposes,” says Paul Williamson, Public Transport Assistant at Herefordshire Council.
The first step was the adoption of OmniTIMES to create a timetable database, which is the platform for all the other bus service information provided by the council. OmniTIMES allows for the smooth export of data to Traveline. Then comes OmniEXPORT, which is used to format the information in a way which supports the production of the council’s new-look timetable booklets. These cover the county in three areas, and give full details of all bus services in each area.
“We took the opportunity to redesign the timetable booklets,” Paul Williamson explains, “adopting an A5 landscape format which is easier to use. The new timetable booklets have been well received; people like them.” Instead of giving a description of each route in the timetables, the Omnibus software allows Herefordshire to provide a list of stopping places which is easier to read and to understand, and more relevant to bus users.
Then came the use of OmniSTOP to create attractive new displays for use at bus stops. “In the past we used pages from timetables, which with 8 point type were not ideal,” Paul Williamson continues. “Now we can produce relevant information using larger type – 12 or 14 point where possible, but never less than 10. It is a big improvement in presentation and, of course, in the clarity of the information, with data specific to an individual stop.
“A big advantage of using the Omnibus programs is that generally there is only one source of data, so there is a reduced chance of errors occurring,” Paul Williamson adds. “It simplifies timetable production as we send the data to our printer electronically. It also speeds up the process of producing bus stop information, as well as giving a neater end result.”
Displays which have been produced using OmniSTOP are a feature of an upgraded public transport corridor between Hereford and Ledbury, where the council has provided new bus stops with new flags and new display cases. A similar upgrade is now on schedule for a second corridor, between Hereford and Leominster and Richards Castle.
“The Omnibus software really has made life easier,” Paul Williamson concludes. “It allows us to handle data quickly, and to use it in different formats which are user-friendly for bus passengers, and which are accurate because it eliminates the transcription errors which can occur when transferring data manually between different systems. We are very pleased with its performance.”