Next In Line
NextBus are leading the way with real-time passenger information
Established in 1996, NextBus provides sophisticated, cloud-hosted transit management solutions and now has more than 160 successful installations in municipal, university, and corporate transit systems. Their first public transport contract was won in 1997, before solutions were hosted on the Internet as the norm. Katrina Chapman spoke with Kevin Northcutt about the company and how it has grown.
Katrina: “What’s your history with NextBus?”
Kevin: “I started with NextBus in 2001, the year we got our first university contract and multiple other contracts on the both the east and west coasts of the US. By 2005, we had more than 40 customers. It was great to see the company grow and sustain the growth. I saw us double our customers by 2010, and today we have an all-time high of more than 160 customers from around the world.” We have recently expanded to Australia and the UK.
Katrina: “And in one sentence how would you describe what NextBus does?”
Kevin: We provide real-time passenger information solutions for agencies and operators, while providing a variety of tools that help these agencies optimize their operations—both of which make transit a better experience for transit riders.
Katrina: “Since 2013, when Cubic acquired NextBus from its former parent company, Webtech Wireless, what have been the major changes that you’ve seen?”
Kevin: We have been able to grow and accommodate a number of new customers. We are also are coordinating with Cubic’s NextCity strategy to help riders with all their public transit needs. Recently we have expanded internationally—we just installed NextBus for 20 operators in Queensland, Australia.
Katrina: “But how does it work, in simple terms for us non-technical people?”
Kevin: We use GPS technology with a proprietary algorithm incorporating historical travel data to track vehicles and predict vehicle arrival time. By using data about bus position/location, scheduled stops and traffic patterns, it’s then possible for the arrival time of a vehicle to be estimated very accurately.
Katrina: “What are the benefits for users of NextBus?”
Kevin: “Riders can get arrival information via the internet on their smartphone, tablet or computer and also via LED signs at bus shelters and depots, so the information is out there for everyone to see at any time. We also offer riders the option to subscribe to alerts, which provide text messages about arrival times on particular routes. Giving this freedom to the customers to access information at any time and through various means allows them to plan their journeys in a timely manner. Also, arrival predictions aren’t static—they’re updated and refreshed regularly—so riders can be sure they always have the latest, up-to-the minute information. When riders can know exactly when their bus will arrive, they can spend less time waiting and more time on other activities. Having real-time arrival information available also can reduce anxiety and uncertainty associated with using the bus, and some studies have shown that access to real-time arrival information shortens the perception of wait times at transit stops.”
NextBus, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cubic Corporation, a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. Cubic acquired NextBus from its former parent company, Webtech Wireless, in January 2013, to extend its portfolio of information-based solutions for the transit industry. Founded in 1951 and headquartered in San Diego, CA, Cubic is a global leader in defense, transportation systems and services, and is an emerging supplier of smart card and RFID solutions.