In the first week of lockdown number one, we as a small operator were approached by the Department for Transport (DfT) with a spreadsheet to fill in regarding the Bus Open Data Service (BODS).
At the time, we did not know much about BODS. Right now, I’m not sure that the people running it know how to use it, either.
I then contacted an organisation that had been assisting DfT to set up BODS. I managed to get three files set up, but after that point things went downhill. I received an email every week telling me that my files were not compliant.
At that stage I was calling and emailing every day. Many other small operators were
having the same issues. After DfT not responding to messages I had had enough, and though throughout the various lockdowns there have been some online sessions showing operators how to use BODS, in my view this does not work.
We had signed up for MyTrip from Passenger in the hope that when we came out of lockdown, we would be able to use it with our new contactless ticket machines. However, DfT is still promising me help that I am yet to receive.
The whole system is failing because on speaking to some other operators across the country who have the same issue, it seems that DfT is helping the large companies
I spoke to someone at DfT on 1 November who assured me that the Department was doing everything it could and that somebody would come back to me within 24hrs. On 4 November, I received an email. It said: “I do appreciate that this is a time of transition and many of the smaller operators have been adversely impacted during this time as they adjust to new processes, requirements and costs.”
The whole system is untested. The spreadsheet changes every week or so because there are so many errors that are not being checked. I will not mention names as that would be unfair, but I have sat in many Microsoft Teams meetings over the last year to resolve this and we are getting nowhere.
DfT should remove BODS until it has a system that fully works for all operators and not just the larger groups.
Smaller, family-run companies have been mistreated, with promise after promise that has not been kept.
At one point I was told by a member of staff at the organisation that is working with DfT to send my spreadsheets to them and that they would integrate them into our system.
Nine months later and I still have not heard anything from that individual.
Name and address supplied.