Bus passengers across England will soon be able to plan their journeys down to the minute thanks to a pioneering project to share bus data.
Buses Minister Baroness Vere announced a huge project to standardize and openly publish information from operators, which will enable bus users to plan routes, understand costs in advance, and predict bus arrival times.
Information on timetables will be available from early 2020, followed by location and fares data during 2021, encouraging more people to choose buses by making them easier to use than ever — improving connectivity for communities and boosting the environment as more people turn to public transport.
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 boosts passenger confidence 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 standardize 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.
The program follows the government’s recent announcement of new low-fare, high-frequency “Superbus” networks, Britain’s first all-electric bus town and contactless payments on every city bus.
The package, worth approximately $286 million in the first year, will see many cuts to services reversed. It will create “express lanes” for buses in the West Midlands and elsewhere, as well as invest in new ways of providing more frequent public transport in the countryside and other places where conventional buses have dwindled or disappeared.
The government has also committed to the UK’s first-ever long-term bus strategy and funding settlement, including support for councils who want to create London-style franchised services in their areas.