Manchester Metropolitan University


Smart City partnership to develop e-transport system

TravelSpirit venture will digitally connect transport

Users will be able to book whatever transport they need from one place

HIGH-tech computing research and travel industry partners have come together to create seamless Smart City software that will meet the transport needs of tomorrow’s connected society.

A joint venture launched today (April 5), TravelSpirit is working to create open-source code that will underpin a technical travel ecosystem to provide uninterrupted mobility across different modes of transport.

For example, travel users will be able to plan and buy a cross-city or cross-country journey via a central point that is accessible by transport users and providers. From this, users will automatically plan and purchase any necessary bookings – calling a taxi, reserve a train seat or buying a tram ticket – seamlessly transporting the user, or goods, from one destination to another across whatever means of transport is required.

Known as Mobility-as-a-Service (Maas), it is a fresh concept in travel thinking prompted by new transport services such as e-hailing taxis, ride sharing and in anticipation of self-driving cars.

Future travel

Manchester Metropolitan University has joined with partners, including the Department for Transport, Satellite Applications Catapult, BT, Accenture, Tech North, The Institution of Engineering & Technology and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), to imagine and develop the open-source architecture. TfGM is leading the partnership.

Keith Miller, Head of the Department of Computing, Mathematics and Digital Technology at Manchester Met, said: “Manchester will provide an excellent use case for the platform once built and it has the potential to provide a template for improving travel in major cities around the world.

“TravelSpirit is still in the early stages of development, but it is a novel approach to transport management and will create a technical ecosystem for transport providers and users. We’re now imagining how the open-source architecture might work.

“TravelSpirit will facilitate greater use of public systems and alternative modes of travel across the globe, thus generating more environmentally sound global transport solutions. The project will further develop the growing relationship between the University and TfGM and will enable us to be involved in innovative transport projects in the region that, in today’s connected society, will have global impact.”

Global impact

TfGM’s Transport Strategy Director, Dave Newton, added: “As European Capital of Science and with its rich history of innovation, Manchester is a fitting location to launch this initiative.

“Technology has a fundamental part to play in how transport services and information is provided, not just to people across Greater Manchester but all the towns and cities around the world.

“TravelSpirit has the potential to shape that future and we look forward to working collaboratively with partners on this exciting journey.”

The University will provide computer science expertise on ‘open-source code’ and user experience design to the ‘creative commons’ aspects of the project, with a further strong contribution in geographic information systems from its Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Manchester Met is now developing ideas for an ideation event taking place over the summer and feeding in requirements from a user perspective as a large employer in the city centre. To find out more about TravelSpirit, log on to

Tuesday, 5th April 2016