New open data service set to transform bus use for digital age

Bus Open Data Service will streamline bus services and passenger planning

Bus use across the UK is set to be revitalised through the use of open data in 2020, according to DfT.

DfT’s Bus Open Data Service, which will be launched this year, aims to standardise and publish information from operators to help passengers plan routes, estimate journey times and calculate costs in advance.

Operators and local authorities outside of London will be able to provide route and timetable data to third parties and app developers which design forward-facing apps for passengers.

Currently, no standardised means of publishing fares and ticketing data exists.

The government says it will work with tech companies to ensure enough products meet data demands. It will be underpinned by a legal requirement for operators to provide route and timetable data by the end of 2020 and fare, ticket and location data by 2021.

According to watchdog Transport Focus, confusion over timetables and fares is one of the main hindrances to bus use. The Confederation for Passenger Transport already offers a national open dataset through its subsidiary, Traveline.

The open data service will work in tandem with recent announcements of low-fare, high-frequency ‘superbus’ networks; Britain’s first all-electric bus town; contactless payments on every city bus; and a long-term strategy to support London-style franchised bus services across the country.

Says David Beardmore, Commercial Director at Open Data Institute: “This marks the start of a digital transformation for the delivery of bus services across England and will benefit the tech industry, which will use the data to innovate and develop new products and services, but fundamentally consumers… they can plan their journeys more easily and make better choices about tickets.”