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New rail passenger last mile travel WhatsApp service will list walking over taxis option on hot days

Updated: May 10, 2021

Rail passengers returning to the train over coming months will be able to access a new feature that will send them transport options to help them complete the last leg of their journey.

As part of the new last mile routing technology the weather will determine how the user is offered a taxi as an option. The weather sensitive functions means users will be offered the option of walking on a hot day, above other options including taxis that are locally available.

The Alert Me by Messenger technology, which was announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in May 2020, tells rail users how disruption and crowding may affect their journey, providing alternative routes and helping people maintain social distancing when they need to travel. This service will also be made available to customers via WhatsApp later this spring and offered by most train companies by the end of the year.

The new feature, which has been developed by British company Zipabout, is the first of its kind to be made available nationwide and will provide train users throughout Britain with weather sensitive transport options to help them complete their journey after taking the train. Using what3words in addition to other location feeds, passengers will receive customised travel information that includes travel duration and all modes available.

Micro-mobility, which includes Voi’s e-scooters, will be listed alongside all other passenger transport options, including taxis, bus, bike, and walking.

Where e-scooters are available, passengers will be able to book their e-scooter from their seat and collect it from the scooter hire on arrival.

Since May 2020, National Rail has sent over 6.7m personalised journey updates to passengers as part of our safer travel pledge during the pandemic. The updates include busyness alerts that are based on unique forecast demand data, disruption information, and alternative travel routes.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This new technology will allow passengers to benefit from a personalised information service in the palm of their hand, helping them avoid disruption, travel safely and enjoy seamless journeys. As we build back better from this pandemic, smoother and safer journeys will help passengers travel with confidence and consider new ways to complete their journey.”

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “As more people return to public transport in the coming weeks, reliable information will be vital to help passengers plan, avoid busier services and maintain social distancing. In our research passengers found the Alert Me by Messenger service simple and easy to use and valued the ability to adjust their plans if they knew about disruption or potential crowding on services.”

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