URBAN MOBILITY FORUM / FORUM SUR LA MOBILITÉ URBAINE - FALL / AUTOMNE 2017 - 22
FEATURE | ARTICLE DE FOND
Decreased Waiting Time for the Bus in
By Isabelle Laflamme, Information Officer, Ville de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
SINCE LAST NOVEMBER, a new passenger information system called Zenbus has
delighted public transit users in SaintJean-sur-Richelieu. Thanks to this service
offered by the City, urban bus line users
can know the location of their bus in real
time and know what time they will arrive
at their stop.
Premiering in North America, this innovative technology was implemented within
less than a year on five bus lines, with the
collaboration of Transdev Canada.
Developed by JOUL, a French company
specializing in geolocation in the mobility field, the Zenbus app is used on more
than 150 urban, regional, school and private
transportation lines in France. The demand
is growing fast, thus proving the quality and
reliability of a solution consistent with mass
transit challenges. Since the Saint-Jeansur-Richelieu deployment, other Zenbus
services have been initiated this year in
the United States and Brazil.
Improving public transit service, the
addition of this technology allows users
to manage their trips autonomously, with
greater peace of mind.
In 2015, when considering the renewal
of its operating agreement with Transdev
Canada, Ville de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
reviewed its public transit service in a transparent and collaborative approach. One of
the municipality's requests was to find a
solution that met the users' needs: to obtain
a real-time information tool to facilitate their
trips by bus.
Nowadays, public transit users appreciate the possibility of knowing where to find
their bus online. They want to have reliable
information to plan their departures and
arrivals quickly on their smartphone when
they are in transit. Receiving information on
projected late buses or other unexpected
transit situations is another advantage
sought by citizens, who thus can provide
for different mobility options.
Official launch of
November 15, 2016
de Zenbus, 15
The major advantages of this application are its ease of use and reduced cost of
implementation. The system is useful for
carriers because it allows them to collect
valuable data for management of the bus
fleet and customer service, such as routes
and arrival times.
The originality of Zenbus builds on
new technologies and the power of the
passengers' and drivers' smartphones.
The principle behind the app is simple:
a smartphone installed in each bus gives
its geolocation while driving. By downloading Zenbus free on a smartphone or
a tablet, via the App Store and Google
Play, the user thus can identify the position
of his bus in real time on a map, know
its arrival time at a bus stop, and more!
Zenbus is also accessible from a computer
connected to the Internet.
The system allows supervisors, line
managers, directors and other operational players to have reliable, immediate geographic data for management
of their operations. Precise mass data
archiving also allows better analysis and
sustainable optimization of the transit
Thanks to a messaging tool integrated
in the app, it is possible to communicate
with the users to notify them in case of
a route change due to roadwork or bad
weather. Messaging is also useful to disseminate promotions or other service
information to the users.
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Close collaboration among Zenbus,
Transdev Canada and the City ensured this
project's success. Since the solution only
requires a simple installation procedure,
the Transdev team was able to configure
the system remotely, with the support of
Zenbus personnel operating in France. The
3 parties worked in concert to make the
necessary technological improvements and
adaptations to the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
The app was tested with the members
of the City's Transportation Committee.
This test allowed for a number of adjustments before its launch for all passengers.
The positive feedback on the use of the
dynamic map, the bus locations and their
arrival at the stops on the five urban lines
quickly confirmed the solution was relevant and ready for launch. It should be
mentioned that the app is so intuitive that it
does not require any user guide to be used.
The service was opened to passengers
on November 15, 2016. From the first
week, Zenbus recorded 200 sessions
per day, with a 90% loyalty rate. Having
been immediately popular with passengers, Zenbus use has increased constantly
since its deployment: connections grew
from 4,669 in December 2016 to 8,036
in March 2017.
Initiatives like this one, seeking to make
the public transit network even more
attractive, are a priority for the City, as
noted by Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu's Mayor,