UK bus services set to undergo digitally transformation

The project to share bus data will allow passengers to manage their journeys from start to finish from their smartphones

Bus passengers will soon be able to plan their journeys down to the minute, thanks to a pioneering project to share bus data.

Information on timetables will be available from the Bus Open Data Service in early 2020, followed by location and fares data during 2021, encouraging more people to choose buses by making them easier to use.

Developers will be able to add the information into existing apps or develop new products to bring the benefits to passengers across the country.

The Bus Open Data Service will be followed by new regulations which will mean bus operators are legally required to provide timetable data by the end of 2020 and fare, ticket and location data by 2021.

The new regulations will mean a better deal for bus passengers – providing live location data and providing greater transparency across different operators will help to keep fares down following years of fares increasing beyond the rate of inflation.

In 2020 the project will standardise information from operators and legally mandate the open publication of data; bringing greater transparency to passengers to help them use the UK’s bus network.

The government will work with technology companies, app developers and information providers to ensure a range of innovative products are designed to make the most of the data and help all bus users make informed choices.

Full data on fares and locations will be available from 2021, by which point it is expected that a range of apps will be on the market, allowing passengers to manage their journeys from start to finish from their smartphones.

Transport for the North has confirmed the development of a new ‘Fares Data Build Tool’ which will be free to use for bus operators and local transport authorities (LTAs) who are responsible for publishing this data.

The tool is being developed in collaborative partnership between Transport for the North, the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Bus Open Data programme and Traveline Information Ltd. The shared approach has been agreed to complement and enhance industry aspirations for better data provision to make public transport, especially buses, more accessible. It is being delivered as part of Phase Two of Transport for the North’s £150 million DfT-funded Integrated and Smart Travel programme.

The tool will help bus operators comply with upcoming Government regulations – being introduced under the Bus Services Act 2017 – that will require fares data for local bus services across England to be published in a standardised, open-source data format from January 2021. It is part of a wider digital transformation programme to make bus information available to leading journey planning app providers

Steve Howes, Integrated and Smart Travel Director at Transport for the North, said, by helping operators and local authorities improve the provision of bus fares information, passengers will benefit from knowing more about how much their journey will cost and being able to more easily compare different options available to them. Combined with the Department for Transport and Transport for the North’s wider ‘smart’ initiatives, this will make planning journeys on public transport easier than ever and help make it the preferred choice for travel across our region.

Baroness Vere, Roads and Buses Minister at the Department for Transport, said, we want to make sure people get value for money from their journeys, and today’s announcement – a result of our £150 million fund for integrated smart travel – is a significant step forward in making sure they have better information about the public transport they’re taking.

“This tool could ultimately help make people more aware of the benefits of the bus and encourage people to use public transport more, helping tackle issues from congestion to carbon emissions and air quality. We look forward to continuing to work with Transport for the North to deliver this pioneering product.”

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