Tuesday 5 November 2019 1:28 pm

TfL mines passenger phone data to improve Tube journey estimates

Tracking passengers’ phone usage on the Tube has allowed Transport for London (TfL) to improve its travel time estimates.

TfL has analysed 2.7bn pieces of anonymised data since June, which has been gained through tracking people’s usage of Wi-Fi networks at stations across the capital.

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This analysis has now allowed TfL to update its Journey Planner app to better estimate journey times between 55 different stations.

The same information will also be used in the future to alter train timetabling to optimise routes.

Lauren Sager Weinstein, chief data officer at TfL, said: “Our lives are now more data-rich than they have ever been and therefore we are working to use this data to allow our customers to better plan their journeys and find the best routes across our network.”

The upgrade is part of a larger push by TfL to use collected data to improve its services and increase revenues.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan set a target of 80 per cent of all journeys being taken by “sustainable means of transport” – public transport, cycling and walking – by 2041.

London’s inaugural chief digital officer Theo Blackwell said using collected passenger data was the only way to achieve this goal.

“Wifi gives us great insights into the service and it gives us “desire lines” of the city – where people like to go,” he said.

“It enables us to measure the frequency of trains, suggest better routes for people to get to work and improve our services enormously.”

Usage of Wi-Fi data, and other types of collected passenger data, could also increase TfL’s bottom line.

“This use of data really assists the TfL in raising advertising revenue,” Blackwell said.

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“Data can be used to price advertising better and better direct adveritising.

“This is then reinvested back into the network to make more improvements.”