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DfT to launch Bus Open Data Service


The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that a new Bus Open Data Service is set for launch early this year.

It will provide scope for developers to create new passenger information services, following the leads set by the opening up of public transport APIs in London and Bristol.

Buses Minister Baroness Vere announced the impending launch, saying it will initially provide information on routes and timetables, followed by real time location and fares data by 2021.

Developers will be able to add the information into existing apps or develop new products to improve connectivity for communities and encourage more people to turn to public transport.

“By harnessing the transforming power of data and technology we could be on the threshold of a golden age for buses,” said Baroness Vere. “Sharing data on routes, bus locations and fares will give passengers even more confidence to ride.”

The plan became public in July 2018, although its roots were in a decision by the Government in 2016 to require private bus operators to push information about routes, fares, timetables and delays into the realms of open data.

New products

David Sidebottom, director of public transport pressure group Transport Focus, said the Government will work with technology companies, app developers and information providers to support the development of new products.

The initiative has been supported by the Open Data Institute, whose commercial director David Beardmore commented: “This marks the start of a digital transformation for the delivery of bus services across England and will benefit both the tech industry who will use the data to innovate and develop new products and services.

“But fundamentally consumers are the ultimate winners; armed with better information they can plan their journeys more easily and make better choices about tickets.”

The open data approach to public transport has been widely seen as providing a huge benefit to London. A report by Deloitte in 2017 said it had added up to £130 million a year to the city’s economy and created value by making things easier for travellers.

Image:Motacilla, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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