Google Maps Platform to power with location data both internal and external tools
“Our fleet counts more than 1,600 buses, entrusted to 2,500 bus drivers. We perform more than 8,600 rides, 75 million kilometres each year transporting 200.000 passengers every day (more than 70,000,000 people each year)”, said Paolo Castagno, Head of the Technical Area of the Organizational Unit at Cotral. Buses are managed by almost 50 local stations all over our region.
Cotral’s goals are regulated by a deal with Regione Lazio where are described all the requirements the transportation company needs to fulfil in order to keep providing the public transportation service. “We constantly work to complete our goals by optimizing timetables and working shifts. Also nowadays customers want to be better informed about their journey and in real time (delays, cancellations, changes in routes, timing, etc.)”, explains Paolo Castagno.
Most of the time, commuters use Cotral to go to work or to school. Like all European countries, Italy is promoting sustainable mobility in order to reduce CO2 emissions responsible for global warming. Communication campaigns encourage people to change their mind and habits to privilege public transports for their daily trips. Cotral is very careful about environmental protection, hence the company tries to provide useful, sustainable and reliable service for the citizens in the Lazio region. “We compete on the transportation market, and our toughest competitor is the use of private cars to move. Our low fares are key to be attractive, but still, there are cultural habits to change and they are not the easiest ones to change, but we keep working on it” specifies Paolo Castagno.
To achieve the objectives mentioned above, Cotral has invested in Google Maps Platform to power with location data both internal and external tools, “we have deployed applications to provide information about our fleet with real-time position featured on an interactive map and we can’t develop our own system to render this important information” says the Head of the Technical Area of the Organizational Unit.
Real-time data & Accuracy are key to dispatch buses properly
Cotral has developed a Store Locator to help people to buy tickets and/or subscriptions. “Our customers can check their bus position on the map, thus knowing the waiting time at the stop, but also our employees can check if buses are on time, and can complete their ride before the scheduled departure time for the next one”.
Cotral had conducted a customer satisfaction survey in 2018 via social networks. ”We asked our customers their preferred app to check public transport, including our own app (using Google solutions both for cartography and for fleet/sales point location) and our partner applications such as Moovit and Citymapper (we provide them with both programmed service and real-time data), and our app resulted the preferred one by far!”, pursues Paolo Castagno.
For the Italian transport company, location topic is critical. “For us being able to locate our fleet in real time and with accuracy, is very important. Our users expect this level of detail to know where their bus is, at what time the next bus will arrive. This location data is important for us too because we use it to update the bus dispatch. For example, during rush hours, we need to adapt our offer in regards to the ride duration to complete a trip and add more buses to transport more people in better conditions”, elaborates Cotral’s Manager.
—Paolo Castagno, Head of the Technical Area Organizational Unit at Cotral
During the last years our employees became more aware of the importance of providing an accurate planning of routes and buses. Despite some initial reluctance, since the public transportation information started to be published in the app, the staff finally embraced the new model. Currently our updated information levels at 98% comparing to 65% before, delivering our customers’ satisfaction.
Web Geo Services helped Cotral at the early stage of their use of Google Maps. “WGS team helped us to understand the Google Maps APIs usage policy. The Customer Care team worked closely with our technical teams to implement APIs properly in our systems. WGS constantly supported us by monitoring our usages and alerting us about some issues found on unnecessary calls to geolocation services. In addition to this, they helped us to understand how to use the developer console”, tells Paolo Castagno.
Cotral is planning to create an app dedicated to its drivers. "The idea is to better assist our driver to follow an itinerary. We want to provide them with an application that will highlight the road to take", said Paolo. The Head of the Technical Area of the Organizational Unit disclosed that Cotral is currently developing a new public APP that will increase customized services to passengers, including geographic-related data such as an alert when the bus of user's favourite route is approaching, or when it is time to get off from the bus one's travelling in, and so on.