NSW commuters offered real-time services info via Amazon Alexa

Transport for NSW joins the throng of Australian brands and services launching skills for the voice interaction platform

NSW commuters are to become the latest beneficiaries of voice-based interaction thanks to a new Transport for NSW integration with Amazon’s Alexa platform.

The department has launched a new skill for Amazon voice devices that provides real-time train, ferry and light rail arrival information, disruptions and updates. It does this via an integration with the Transport for NSW Real-time Intelligent Transport Assistant (RITA), launched last September and available as a Facebook Messenger chatbot and for Google Assistant.

Users can ask Alexa to update them on their morning commute in order to hear information on saved transport journeys, and tap into a range of information services. Those travelling by bus will have to wait, however, as information around the bus network has not yet been included.

Transport for NSW deputy secretary of customer services, Tony Braxton-Smith, said the Alexa skill was recognition of the consumer shift towards voice services for information.

“In NSW, we know transport is no longer just about building infrastructure and running services, but embracing new technology to provide the best services for our customers,” he said. “RITA began as an interactive chatbot on Facebook Messenger. Now it’s evolved to become an essential component of digital assistant products like Alexa.”

As a next step, Braxton-Smith said Transport for NSW is looking to offer real-time bus disruption information, Opal voice-activated balance top-ups and responses to frequently asked questions via the Alexa platform.

“The best thing about RITA is the potential to shape and evolve the customer experience,” he added.

Australian brands have been quick to jump on the voice-interaction bandwagon after Amazon confirmed Alexa’s local launch in February. Among those to have already launched skills for the platform are Airtasker, Qantas, Hipages, Seek, EnergyAustralia, AGL, NAB, Westpac and Domino’s.

Many so far are information-based services, with transactional capability a medium-term priority.

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