Heathrow Airport is the largest airport in the UK and the second largest in the world by passenger numbers. In 2017 40% of those travelling to the airport used public transport according to DfT Transport Statistics. However, the government has set Heathrow a target to raise this percentage to 55% by 2030 (HeathrowStrategic Brief). Given the limits to the information from existing providers, (particularly the lack of accurate information about the access points and services available at the airport) Heathrow came to TransportAPI to help implement a new journey planner.

Firstly, TransportAPI developed a high-level architecture for Heathrow’s journey planning service. We made sure that this would be capable of delivering quick wins while also laying the foundations for the long term. The TransportAPI team worked extremely closely with Heathrow business analysts to gather all the requirements across the business for both customer and staff travel.

“Because the information comes via RESTful API the integration was very simple. We look forward to our continuing partnership in the years to come” Stephen Glenfield, Digital Development Manager, Heathrow AIrport

Next, TransportAPI worked with Heathrow’s service providers to link the airport asset databases to the journey planners to make sure that travellers arrive and leave from the correct places. Each of the onward travel modes has its own access point to/from the airport and journey planners should deliver the correct one users. Once at the airport travellers can then use maps functionality to find their way through the terminals to their flight.

Customisation of car journey planning is particularly challenging at Heathrow with a complicated and interwoven 3D geometry of roads. For example in some of the car parks in the central airport area cars might enter at ground floor level and exit at the top floor at the other end of the car park. This is complex for routing algorithms to understand and generally they will attempt to find a fixed centre point which is confusing and unhelpful for drivers. TransportAPI delivered exact custom places that differentiate exit and entrance dependent on which is the best route for every individual Heathrow driver.

To complete the delivery, TransportAPI provided Heathrow with access to its Enterprise service to power the journey planner. TransportAPI offer a wide range of live and timetabled data for stops and stations on all transport modes as well as route maps and costs for travel modes such as taxis and trains. This scaled service is integrated with the Heathrow web site to offer 24/7 service for travellers across the day and through the seasons.

TransportAPI were able to deliver on the challenge of a new journey planner given the expertise in the data that we bring. But we also offer flexible delivery and simple integration. As Stephen Glenfield, Head of Digital, Heathrow Airport comments: ‘Because the information comes via RESTful API the integration was very simple. We look forward to our continuing partnership in the years to come’.