Esoterix Systems has been spearheading the development of new technology to support better passenger transport in the UK since 2012, with the guiding principles of affordable, accessible, inclusive and complementary (to the existing network, aiming to amplify rather than compete). The expert multi-disciplinary team takes a whole system approach, learning from passenger, operator and stakeholder feedback from multiple in-the-field trials to build processes and products which make mobility smoother.
It all started with an empty bus. And another one. And another one. David Stewart, a network optimisation expert, frustrated with the sight of buses circulating without passengers would play a game with his children of ‘Empty Bus Bingo’. He wanted a more functional transport network for their future and foresaw that the advent of mobile phone and location technology would be key to that. And so, the journey began…
Since then, Esoterix has brought in excess of £2.5m funding into the region and run multiple ‘living lab’ trials that have made industry headlines. The trials have enabled it to evolve and improve service ideas through interaction with passengers, and to test new business models in partnership with employers and the local authorities. Examples include a taxibus feeder service to the greater Bristol bus network and pop-up shared transport for people with specific mobility needs.
In so doing the company has delivered (so far) over 33,000 accessible and sustainable journeys in Bristol which improve access to employment, education and healthcare.
‘Transport is a particularly fascinating sector’ says co-founder Liz Davison, who leads on the experimental development of services. ‘Because of new technological possibilities “intelligent transport” is moving incredibly quickly but we have found that all too often technophiles make assumptions about people and operations.
We’re proud to test our own assumptions and feel that as a result the products we build are stronger and more robust.
Esoterix’ current work focuses on two particular challenges. Firstly, they are being sponsored by the Department for Transport to develop machine learning which can be used to smooth network usage through the dynamic pricing of trains and buses. And secondly, they are looking at how to improve connectivity in hard to serve areas with low population density through a more effective brokering between supply and demand.
Both work streams aim to underpin the passenger’s full journey in a way that is affordable, accessible, and sustainable (environmentally and economically).
The team has built partnerships with leading industry and academic entities, including Go-Ahead, Stagecoach, First Bus, University of West of England, University of Bristol, University of Exeter, ITP World, and Bristol City Council to name but a few. ‘Our vision is of a world where nobody has to think about transport’, says Siobhan Myles, Chief Innovation Officer. ‘Innovation is in our DNA and we’re always looking at new ways of working and how to bridge silos for better outcomes.’
Got a question or just want to chat about transport and technical and societal possibilities? Do get in touch. The team would love to hear from you.