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Spark Digital's tech takes Skybus services to new heights

19 Jul 2016

Frequent flyers may have used the Skybus to get from Auckland airport to the city (or vice versa) since October 2015, and also may have noticed that the bus now has a new name, but is also much more connected.

The airport-city bus service, formerly known as Airbus, was purchased in October 2016 by Melbourne-based company, Skybus. The company increased the frequency to a 24-hour services, and brought Spark Digital on board to provide on-board wi-fi.

Michael Sewards, Skybus director, believes it was Spark's tech and innovation that encouraged his company to invest in the transport service.

More than 200,000 passengers been using on average 16 MB of data, which Spark says is the equivalent of using wi-fi for 30 minutes of Spotify, sending 200 work emails and 50 photo uploads.

In addition, Skybus has also used curbside concierge services equipped with tablets to speed up paperless ticketing and give visitor advice.

Spark's mobile app design unit, Putti, developed a smartphone/mobile device-based ticketing service, which eliminates paper ticketing completely. Skybus was impressed with the design and will also use the technology in Melbourne for its airport services.

Sewards believes that his company's work researching ticketing innovation and how Airbus previously ran was important when choosing Spark Digital as their wi-fi and technology provider.

"It was important to find a local technology partner with the expertise to help us realise our vision. Above everything else we were looking for innovation and an ability to deliver. Not only did we find that partner in Spark Digital, but we found Spark's technology is better than anything we have experienced back in Australia. So much better that we're planning to take some of that technology back to Melbourne and then possibly roll it out elsewhere in the world," says Sewards.

Skybus recognises that they must serve both incoming tourists who expect to use internet services, as it is standard practise in the northern hemisphere, so a quality provider was important.

"We have the depth of capability to deal with the unique requests from the SkyBus team. It brings together our 4G mobile network, onboard WiFi solution, and Putti-designed apps along with the smarts required behind the scenes to make the services ‘sing’ together. We’ve managed to put every part of the puzzle together quickly for a very tech-savvy customer," says Spark Digital business manager Stuart Little.

Skybus aims to expand the service, increase service frequency to every 10 minutes during peak hours, and add another seven buses to its fleet in 2017.

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