March 14, 2022
Strætó has been operating public transport service for Reykjavík and the surrounding countryside for two decades. Operating public transport in Iceland can mean navigating frequent changes to service. Road closures and inclement weather are common, forcing operations staff to cancel or reroute service, and often on short notice. In order to keep passengers happy and informed, the transport authority needed to implement a process for getting out service alerts to passengers quickly – and with minimal effort for staff.
In our latest webinar, “How Iceland Communicates Changes to Service,” we sat down with two Strætó staff members, Ellen Mjöll in Operations and Guðmundur Heiðar in Marketing. They shared how Strætó used Swiftly’s APIs to power a massive update to their website that allows their site to automatically populate with the latest announcements and alerts. Here’s what we found out.
Changes to service were a remarkably manual and time-intensive process for Strætó. “Creating a detour involved a lot of steps,” explained Mjöll during the live webinar. “We’d have to find a map of the area online, then take a screenshot of it and edit it in Word or Paint to show where changes were taking place. We’d then write up a detailed explanation of the changes and distribute it to our staff. It would take a lot of time because we were doing it ourselves by hand.”
Because it took so long to compile information about a change to service, staff could only do a few at a time, leaving passengers without real time information about changes to service in a format that was easily accessible to them at home. Too often, passengers would find themselves trekking out to bus stops in the snow to wait for a bus that would never come.
“With some other forms of transport, you have someone you can ask for help. On a flight, for example, you can ask a flight attendant to assist you. But you're pretty much on your own when you're using public transport,” said Heiðar. “That's why it's so important to have a web page with news announcements that can guide customers.”
Strætó used Swiftly’s APIs to create a website that puts alerts about cancellations and detours front and center. Staff simply need to make a change to service in their Swiftly Dashboard and the changes are reflected across all possible channels – both internally and externally. Alerts about cancellations can be created and posted in advance, which gives passengers the critical information they need to plan their trips.
Updates also go out automatically on Twitter. Since the new website’s launch in January 2022, Strætó’s tweet volume is up by 70%, impressions are up by 80%, and profile views are up by 300%.
“It takes less time to do an announcement now. Our Twitter is linked to our website so we don’t have to do the same announcement twice; it just automatically appears in both places. So that’s been very good. We have the option to put out announcements in half the time. It’s a great tool to have,” said Mjöll.
With Swiftly, the Strætó team is able to deliver reliable service more easily and with tools that go beyond announcing changes to service.
“When I first tried Swiftly, it was such a good user experience for me. For example, I could replay trips to see if something happened, like a bus getting delayed or breaking down. It was a good user interface and good user experience,” said Heiðar. “And with this new process for alerts and detours, Swiftly is reducing steps for the operations team. If the operations team can act fast, then critical information can get out quickly and make our customers happier. So overall, I’d say that Swiftly is streamlining things and making it easier for us.”
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