East Anglia Passenger Travel Information Service –
Traveline is a partnership of transport operators and local authorities formed to provide impartial and comprehensive information on public transport. It operates in England, Scotland and Wales. Traveline started operating in 2000. The telephone service was the first service to be provided and is delivered from regional contact centres around the UK.
Partnerships of Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs), local authorities, bus operators and others have been formed in each region of the country – and these partnerships have made arrangements to run Traveline in their particular areas. They collect and organise all of the timetable information, provide systems to search out answers and arrange for the phone calls to be answered. They have also arranged to provide the self-service journey planners on the internet.
Early in 2006, East Anglia Passenger Travel Information Service (EAPTIS) were faced with a decision as to how to provide and resource their contact centre on an ongoing basis. There were three separate options: Continue with the existing outsourced contact centre, bring the service “in-house” and utilise local authority shared services or re-tender the programme and invite private sector involvement.
As part of this process, EWA was approached by Mott MacDonald (consultants acting on behalf of EAPTIS to advise on the selection of a partner organisation) and were asked to provide a cost benefit analysis for the private sector outsourced option.
As a result of this analysis, Mott MacDonald subsequently recommended to EAPTIS that they re-tender the service via the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). EWA was invited to take part in the tender and after a four stage pitch process, were successful in their bid and contracted to provide contact centre services to EAPTIS from July 2007 for a three year period.
From the beginning of the programme it was clear that there would be significant peaks and troughs in demand for the Traveline service. In order to manage this, EWA formulated a contact centre unit based around a core team of dedicated staff, supplemented by multi-skilled agents.
The team operated under the management of one of EWA’s senior Account Directors who provided management and support for the team and the client.
Given the call flow patterns, it was obvious that accurate forecasting and resource planning were essential to ensure the quality service expected by EAPTIS and Traveline customers was maintained. EWA’s Customer Insight team was therefore involved from the outset to bring a statistical and analytical edge to the reporting and information required.
EWA was responsible for the delivery of information to callers from the East Anglia region serving the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Enquiries were routed to EWA from a nationally dialled number and also transferred from other regional Traveline centres.
The contact centre was open from 7.00am to 9pm for 364 days every year (closing only on Christmas Day) and will handle between 250 – 1,400 calls per day. Whilst averaging some 450 calls per days, seasonal variations included public holidays; return to school periods and local events.
Calls were answered through access to journey planning software that provided operators with timings and multiple routes for specified journeys. Information could be accessed to provide specific stop locations within towns; transfer information utilising local on-screen maps; return journey times as well as forward planning of journeys.
The service was designed to deliver fast, accurate and impartial journey plans that assisted callers to make the best use of public transport services. Since successfully winning and delivering the EAPTIS contract in August 2007, EWA provided an enhanced service to customers answering calls more quickly and responding to enquiries more quickly to provide benefit to both EWA’s client and their customers.