NSW Transport slides into your DMs with train delay tweets

Transport for NSW is in touch with Kids These Days, offering real-time Twitter notifications of train delays and plans for Netflix-style "buses and trains on demand."

Claire Reilly
Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
Expertise Space, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech Culture Credentials Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
2 min read
Transport for NSW

Transport for NSW is taking inspiration from Twitter and Netflix in a bid to move into the 21st Century, announcing a pilot program to deliver delay notifications via Twitter, as well as ambitious future plans for "buses and trains on demand."

The state's Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance announced the partnership with Twitter today, which will let commuters choose what train services they want to receive notifications for, and when they want to receive them.

"For instance, if you travel from Kogarah to the city for work and there is a disruption further down the line that doesn't affect you, the system knows not to worry about letting you know," he said. "If the disruption is on the section of the line you use, you'll receive a notification.

The Twitter notifications will be available to anyone who subscribes to the alert service over the summer," he said.

The tie-in with Twitter follows a number of tech-focused initiatives announced by Transport for NSW, including real-time bus loading data to tell commuters how full their bus is before stepping on board, and plans to trial contactless card payments on public transport.

But it's not just about getting notifications about how the network is working. Transport for NSW also wants travel data to shape the way public transport runs across the state.

With that in mind, the Minister today called for expressions of interest from industry to launch an "on demand transport trial," set to go live across the network by the end of 2017.

It's pie-in-the-sky thinking, but it mean that real-time data on things such as public events, weather and peak travel habits is all pulled together to help allocate public transport to the areas where it's needed most.

"We have Netflix, Stan and Foxtel to give us movies on demand -- so why can't we have our public transport respond to where people are and what they want?" said Minister Constance.

"Imagine a NSW where you don't need to check the timetable because the right numbers of trains, buses or ferries arrive when and where they need to. This future is not far off if we are quick off the mark today."

It's early stages yet, with Transport for NSW seeking industry responses by February 2017.

But it could mean a future where you can throw away your bus timetable, not because the buses are so darn infrequent, but because tech has solved the problem for you.

Update, December 9, 2016: Transport for NSW has now pushed Twitter notifications for train delays live. Follow @TfNSWAlerts to keep across the network updates.