In the early stages of the credit crunch public transport companies appeared to be flourishing as high prices and possible concerns about the environment forced travelers to leave their cars at home. First Group, an Aberdeen based company that operates nationwide and regional rail services, bus services and owns the famous Greyhound brand in the US reported rising passenger numbers initially, but of late has noticed passenger numbers fall.
But it has been a good year for the company, reporting UK bus revenues of £1,182 million and rail revenues of £2,121.5m. Its Greyhound service was introduced into the UK and the group reported revenues of £642.4 million. Passenger numbers remained healthy as well with the bus group transporting 285 million people a year and the railways getting 13,500 people to their destinations.
First Group invested in adding WiFi to its Greyhound US fleet and has also used an online early booking system to reduce the amount of commission to pays to agents by selling tickets directly to consumers.
First Group also invested in rail information systems for its consumers putting 69 help points and 56 customer information systems in at 16 of its Thameslink stations.
In February 2010, First said it had signed a deal for Atos Origin to provide it with application development, installation and support. The two-stage project will consolidate the three separate Customer Information (CIS) control systems of the First Great Western train operating franchise that data back to when First Great Western was composed of three franchises.
Atos Origin will spend the first 18 months of the FirstGroup contract developing and installing the new system, and then provide support services for the software over the subsequent five years.
The new system, based on Atos Origin's LICC CIS control system application, will power CIS displays, automated public address and information points at around 200 stations from a single, centralised control point.
Peter Taylor, project manager for First Great Western, said: "We are confident [the system] will save our staff monitoring and controlling time; save the franchise money through rationalisation and enable more effective disruption management."
Network Rail and other train operators already use LICC in more than 1,200 stations, and Atos Origin has installed and supported CIS at 220 ScotRail stations for over 12 years.