Is there anything more idyllic than travelling across a busy city?

From nuzzling into someone’s armpit to enjoying the calming influence of traffic, roadworks and faulty signals, there are so many highlights to enjoy.

Then again, non-armpit fans might disagree.

The folks at Citymapper certainly do. Which is why the self-professed “ultimate transport app” recently sent a small, temporary fleet of its own buses out onto the roads of central London. The aim? To collect loads of data and meet some real-life public transport users too.

The green single decker buses, snappily named CMX1, went on a loop from Blackfriars to Waterloo and were completely free. That’s right: zilch, nada.

The bus came right past Reevoo Towers, so product marketing legend Josh and I went down to have a look. He snapped the pic you see up top.

Onboard there was wifi and a real-time map showing the bus’ progress, as well as plenty of USB charging ports – basically, it was what a bus should be like.

For a company that has previously only been able to connect with its customers digitally, this physical exercise is a big leap into the unknown. - Highlight to share -

The Citymapper app already helps us get to where we need to go, using the existing infrastructure. Now, Citymapper wants to genuinely change the way we travel.

Citymapper’s vision is buses that can adapt to traffic and optimise its routes based on how people move around. Basically, buses powered by realtime UGC.

Bus routes that change to reflect the movement of people – how cool is that?

This extract from Citymapper’s blog sums it up pretty well:

“We feel buses haven’t evolved enough. They still roam around cities utilising old systems of operations and inefficient technology. If we’re going to solve urgent problems of congestion and infrastructure, we need buses to improve, to operate smarter. In the era of smartphones we can have responsive buses that react to realtime needs.”

Putting on the bus route is just the beginning for Citymapper. It wants the way people move around cities to fundamentally change, which is why it’s making all the data it collects open for everyone.

It’s as much a mission for them as a brand as it is a collective movement to make city travel better.

Data gathered, fans won, real-time user experience generated. Three fist bumps for the ultimate transport app.

But if this millennial brand can demonstrate its ambitions with practical tech, can an older company learn some new tricks?

You betcha. And with 90 more years on the clock than Citymapper, they don’t come much older than Delta Air Lines.

It doesn’t take a jumbo jet-engine scientist to realise there are loads of great data collection and passenger feedback opportunities here and Delta say it plans to make the most of them. - Highlight to share -

So just how is this travel behemoth using tech to improve their service and gather data?

Three words for you. Facial. Recognition. Technology.


Of course, this tech has been in airports for some time, but Delta is the first airline to use it in self-service bag drop machines. Passengers will be matched to their passport photos via a biometric scan, which will then let them check-in their luggage.

These are still in the test phase at Minneapolis International Airport, but the hope is that these machines can soon be used across all the airline’s main hubs.

The aim is to massively speed up check-in times, with Delta hoping twice as many passengers can be processed compared to a traditional check-in desk.

But it doesn’t take a jumbo jet engine scientist to realise there are loads of great realtime UGC collection and passenger feedback opportunities here –  and Delta says it plans to make the most of them.

Hopefully Delta can help encourage people to use their social accounts to give reactions about using the face-scanning tech – or maybe take a realtime sentiment analysis based on their travellers’ facial expressions.

But it’s great to see two companies at different ends of the travel industry – at very different stages of their evolution – both embracing technology to improve their customers’ journeys, gather heaps of data and encourage user feedback. We hope the next frontier is realtime UGC, collected from travellers AS they travel, not when they get home.

High five emoticons all round.

Is the Citymapper bus a preview of realtime UGC?