Government to make bus firms publish open data

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infobleep

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Government to make bus firms publish open data

Privately run services will be made to follow London's lead in making information openly available for app developers

Private bus firms will be forced to push information about routes, fares, timetables and delays into the realms of open data, under legislation soon to be introduced by the Government.

Ministers will require the companies to follow the path opened up by London’s publicly run network to give passengers more information about services.

The Buses Bill, to be unveiled within weeks, is intended to make it easier for local transport authorities to decide services by agreeing franchises with private operators. It would bring the rest of England closer to the model used in London, which escaped the deregulation imposed on the rest of the country in the 1980s.

It is partly aimed at laying the ground for passengers to enjoy the simpler, integrated Oyster-style ticketing system used in the capital and to provide new guarantees on service quality.

Previewing the legislation, transport minister Andrew Jones explained that a key aim of the shake-up was to “address passengers’ need for better information”.

“It is in everyone’s interests for people to know as much as possible about the bus services in their area,” he said. “So our proposal is that all operators will be required to make data about routes, fares and times open and accessible.

“It will allow app makers to develop products that passengers can use to plan their journeys, and give people the confidence to leave the car at home and take the bus instead.”

London precedent

One of the big developments in public transport in the capital has been the emergence of apps that use data from Transport for London to provide detailed information on services, including the likely arrival time of buses.

Speaking at the UK Bus Summit, Jones added: “Just as in London, passengers right across the country want Oyster-style ticketing, better access to information about timetables, better information on fares before they travel, and real time data about when the bus is going to arrive at their stop.”

In a written parliamentary answer, Jones explained that the data would have to be published “in a specified format”.

The 2008 Local Transport Act, introduced by Labour, also promised to introduce bus franchising outside London, but was cumbersome and has not been used successfully anywhere.

http://www.ukauthority.com/news/6098/government-to-make-bus-firms-publish-open-data

Some weeks or months ago, I came across another report on that site which said TfL were looking to develop reporting of delays to buses. I would find that useful. I could look at my arrival bus stop see if buses are getting delayed between there and the stop I'm at. Then I can work out whether it's worth catching the bus or walking because at times walking can be quicker! I'd also find it fascinating reading.

I found out yesterday at the K3 bus route has a Monday to Friday term timetable and a school holiday one. At the bus stop they only show the school holiday one, without any note to say the times are different during the term time. I found it on a non-TfL Web Site. Not sure if the TfL Web Site shows the term time one.

It explains why buses turn up in Hinchley Wood at 8.12 or later every day during term time. I had assumed they were regularly 4 minutes late because the bus stop lists the departure time has being 8.08! Just goes to show, don't believe everything you read.

It would also be useful if TfL could publish journey times for peak travel and not just off-peak, Surely more people use buses during the peak so the average peak journey time would be more useful. No doubt it will follow.

I remember e-mailing the Oxford Bus Company back in 1999 and saying it's great you have a Web Site, unlike Stagecoach*. How times have moved on.

*There's a slight chance I've got them the wrong way round but I don't think so. Would have to recheck my e-mail.
 
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telstarbox

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Excellent news. Hopefully we'll get something like National Bus Enquiries out of it (or Google Maps showing fares would be useful too).
 

carlberry

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Excellent news. Hopefully we'll get something like National Bus Enquiries out of it (or Google Maps showing fares would be useful too).

I can’t actually see the point of most of it, and there’s likely to be a hidden agenda. All the information about routes and timetables is already available, as open data, supplied by Traveline. Fares and delays are not and that will be useful, but the logical way to add them would be through a national organisation such as Traveline (or something better!). This is what Tfl do (i.e. they do it centrally for London, it isn’t done by each operator so, once again, the London example is used where it fits in with what people want to say and ignored where it doesn’t.)

The only reason to mention routes and timetables in the bill, and all the press releases around it, is to make it appear that we don’t already have a national system for it. As soon as the operators have to provide it the government can then start suggesting that Traveline don’t need to; therefore saving all that central/local government money. It's taken 15 years for Traveline to get where it is (which isn’t great but is comprehensive) whereas this has to potential to take things back to the dark ages with over a thousand different companies publishing data in different ways and to different standards. Lots of smaller companies struggle with things like destination display, running to time or even turning up. Expecting them all too suddenly become proficient with updating XML data feeds is really pushing the bounds of reality.
However bus users don’t vote conservative so it doesn’t matter if they're inconvenienced!
 

Howardh

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There's a desperate need for fares to be shown - both on the web and at stops. Three bus companies pass my stop, and the fare into town varies from £1.10 to £2.40; and I genuinely believe sometimes the drivers make it up as I've been asked to pay different fares for the same company.
Would also help competition if each companies prices were shown.
 

Bletchleyite

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This would seem a good substitute for the 56 day notification, which because of the huge cost of getting it wrong and being forced to continue running for 56 days even if the service is hopelessly loss-making dissuades small companies, other than those willing to break the rules, from entering the market.

I think if this is introduced, compliance should allow reduction of the notice period to say 7 days.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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This would seem a good substitute for the 56 day notification, which because of the huge cost of getting it wrong and being forced to continue running for 56 days even if the service is hopelessly loss-making dissuades small companies, other than those willing to break the rules, from entering the market.

I think if this is introduced, compliance should allow reduction of the notice period to say 7 days.

There are lots of good reasons why the 56 day period should stay.

Firstly, an operator decides to withdraw a service and a local authority decides that it needs to be tendered, then they have 7 days to tender that? Emergency tender costs will doubtless be higher and even if you then later retender it, then that's duplication of effort.

What about those LAs and PTEs that also provide roadside publicity? They've got to get the times, prepare the displays etc?

Also, for the printing of timetables? And the distribution of them?
 

Baxenden Bank

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Why shouldn't passengers have adequate notice that a bus service that they depend on is to be altered or withdrawn?

My evening bus service was withdrawn recently. It had been registered the necessary 56 days in advance but details of those changes were a closely guarded secret until a matter of days before implementation. I'm quite sure many infrequent travellers (e.g. weekly) were left waiting for a bus for which the next one was the following morning!

Immediate access to registration data should be a priority (i.e. full submitted details including route and timetable), rather than having to wait for an operator, or local authority, or Traveline to condescend to let people know what is happening. A change to a registered service should only be allowed to take effect 56 days after the publicity for the change has been made widely available!

The current 56 days notice is widely disregarded anyway, with or without TC 'short notice' approval. Operators operate what they feel like regardless of what is registered, with impunity!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
This would seem a good substitute for the 56 day notification, which because of the huge cost of getting it wrong and being forced to continue running for 56 days even if the service is hopelessly loss-making dissuades small companies, other than those willing to break the rules, from entering the market.

I think if this is introduced, compliance should allow reduction of the notice period to say 7 days.

I suspect very few, completely new and untried services, are registered on a commercial basis. No competent operater will be registering a service which turns out to be hopelessly loss-making. OK, it might not be as successful as anticipated, perhaps even making a slight loss, but to register a commercial disaster makes one wonder whether that person should be running a business in the first place!

As regards errors in registrations leading to extra costs for 56 or so days, well, the answer to that is simple. Get it right before you submit it. It seems a fair penalty to me that an operator has to bear the costs of his sloppiness / incompetence by having to continue running what he has, after all, registered on a voluntary basis, to a timescale of his own choosing.
 
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CD

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Why shouldn't passengers have adequate notice that a bus service that they depend on is to be altered or withdrawn?

My evening bus service was withdrawn recently. It had been registered the necessary 56 days in advance but details of those changes were a closely guarded secret until a matter of days before implementation. I'm quite sure many infrequent travellers (e.g. weekly) were left waiting for a bus for which the next one was the following morning!

Immediate access to registration data should be a priority (i.e. full submitted details including route and timetable), rather than having to wait for an operator, or local authority, or Traveline to condescend to let people know what is happening. A change to a registered service should only be allowed to take effect 56 days after the publicity for the change has been made widely available!

The current 56 days notice is widely disregarded anyway, with or without TC 'short notice' approval. Operators operate what they feel like regardless of what is registered, with impunity!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---

I agree 100%, it is one of the things that is really annoying.
 

edwin_m

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Would having to give extensive publicity of a service withdrawal 56 days in advance not be counter-productive? The council or another operator could step in a few weeks later with a replacement service, but they would then have to do another set of extensive publicity to tell people it's not closing down after all.

Is there indeed a rule that allows another operator to step in with less than 56 days notice if they are replacing a withdrawn service?
 

robertclark125

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The thing is, in Scotland, operators have to inform the local authority a minimum two weeks before they send the registration to the traffic commissioner, whether it be a new service, alteration, or cancellation of a service. They must also provide evidence in their registration to the TC that they have informed the relevant local authorities.

That's not the case in England, and I think it should be the case.
 

edwin_m

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The thing is, in Scotland, operators have to inform the local authority a minimum two weeks before they send the registration to the traffic commissioner, whether it be a new service, alteration, or cancellation of a service. They must also provide evidence in their registration to the TC that they have informed the relevant local authorities.

That's not the case in England, and I think it should be the case.

Sounds eminently sensible.
 

Via Bank

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About bloody time, I say.

Given the number of operators who will gleefully take public funding to operate services, it is only right that they are then required to make information about those services (particularly fares) available to the public in a machine-consumable format.

This will be a boon for transport app developers - in fact, if done properly, this may mean Citymapper (or equivalent apps) could comprehensively cover the entirety of England in terms of bus and National Rail fares, timetables and disruptions.

Assuming it's done properly. Given many bus operators' track record, we can probably expect this to be done around 2056.
 

Stan Drews

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About bloody time, I say.
Given the number of operators who will gleefully take public funding to operate services, it is only right that they are then required to make information about those services (particularly fares) available to the public in a machine-consumable format.

Services which receive "public funding" normally have the fares set by the tendering authority, so they shouldn't be a problem to publish.
 

Busaholic

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Services which receive "public funding" normally have the fares set by the tendering authority, so they shouldn't be a problem to publish.

A question genuinely posed, as I don't know the answer: are there examples of different fares being charged on basically the same route between (a) being operated commercially and (b) when some journeys, typically evenings and Sundays, are provided through council tender? If there are such cases, is there a differentiation in the route number or in the provider? Or could Arriva the Shires, say, charge two completely different fares on the same route between the same two points purely based on whether a particular journey was being operated commercially or not?
 

Stan Drews

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A question genuinely posed, as I don't know the answer: are there examples of different fares being charged on basically the same route between (a) being operated commercially and (b) when some journeys, typically evenings and Sundays, are provided through council tender? If there are such cases, is there a differentiation in the route number or in the provider? Or could Arriva the Shires, say, charge two completely different fares on the same route between the same two points purely based on whether a particular journey was being operated commercially or not?

I don't think it's quite as common now, as it was in the past, but there have certainly been plenty of instances where fares on tendered journeys varied from commercial journeys on the same route ....and quite often ran by the same operator.
 

edwin_m

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Services which receive "public funding" normally have the fares set by the tendering authority, so they shouldn't be a problem to publish.

Don't all buses receive public funding, as BSOG and arguably (but not wanting to argue it again here!) also by paying the fares for elderly and disabled?
 

Statto

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I don't think it's quite as common now, as it was in the past, but there have certainly been plenty of instances where fares on tendered journeys varied from commercial journeys on the same route ....and quite often ran by the same operator.



Merseyside is one area where the tendered fares vary greatly from commercial fares, not sure what the tendered fares are but think it's around £1.30 adult no matter how far you're going, commercial fares can be £3+ with the cheapest fares £2.30 adult with some companies.
 

noddingdonkey

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This is a step in the right direction. But a proper passenger's charter is needed, with some real consequences for bus operators when they cancel services for reasons which are within their control or fail to provide passengers with information about significant delays and cancellations (whatever the cause).

At the moment there seems to be little incentive for them to actually run the promised service, and even less incentive for them to recast their timetables, which seem to be based on 30 year old timings, so that they might actually be achievable in the peaks and not involve long periods of standing at timing stops/running early off peak.
 

philjo

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The Bus Services Bill was included in the Queen's Speech today. (This Bill only covers England)

BBC news shows that this includes

- Combined local authorities with elected mayors to have power to franchise local services
- Operators will be required to share route, fare and schedule data with app developers
- Councils to set standards for ticketing, branding and frequency of services
- Clearer and simpler franchising arrangements
 

SCH117X

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Will route data encompass real time bus data?
The Bill has not yet been drafted so the known details that it may contain are very limited. Even when published it is quite likely, based on other recent legislation, that it will still be vague on the detail and further enabling legislation may be required which will contain the "meat on the bones".
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
And of course they then release an "overview"
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bus-services-bill-overview
 

jon0844

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I wonder how many councils have their own data that isn't shared with anyone? Herts County Council being one, which now fails to provide real-time info even through its own services/app.

I do wonder if some bus operators are disabling the reporting somehow, as I brought up the issue of not having real-time info, which meant I couldn't tell that my local bus is now slipping 5-10 minutes on each circular run, and obviously in a day that will mean it effectively skips some runs.

I have no idea if they get paid per run, but if they do then HCC was possibly not even aware of the problems. As before, HCC then replied to me and CC'd the bus company to explain.

I (and presumably the council) is still waiting.
 

infobleep

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The Bus Services Bill was included in the Queen's Speech today. (This Bill only covers England)

BBC news shows that this includes

- Combined local authorities with elected mayors to have power to franchise local services
- Operators will be required to share route, fare and schedule data with app developers
- Councils to set standards for ticketing, branding and frequency of services
- Clearer and simpler franchising arrangements
What do they do in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland? Will we end up with apps that provide real time information but only if you live in England?

Or are their apps already providing the info for everywhere except England?

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk
 

Volvodart

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What do they do in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland? Will we end up with apps that provide real time information but only if you live in England?

Or are their apps already providing the info for everywhere except England?

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk

The Traveline Scotland app already provides real time information, where this is available. Aberdeenshire Council and Stagecoach Bluebird have only recently introduced real time information, with First Aberdeen information being available for many years.
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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I really become annoyed when London is mentioned as "the way forward" on such matters, but when bus deregulation was first rolled out, it did not apply to London at the same time as other areas.

Can anyone let me know why this was so?
 

carlberry

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What do they do in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland? Will we end up with apps that provide real time information but only if you live in England?

Or are their apps already providing the info for everywhere except England?

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk

The details dont specify real time data, just schedule data. There are already data streams that provide real time information where it's available anyway.

http://nextbuses.mobi/
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I really become annoyed when London is mentioned as "the way forward" on such matters, but when bus deregulation was first rolled out, it did not apply to London at the same time as other areas.

Can anyone let me know why this was so?

Some of the people who serve drinks in the houses of parliment, and those who clean it, have to use buses and MPs didnt want them to have to suffer years and years of randomly changing schedules and operators.
 

jon0844

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Google and the like gets timetable data, but that's pretty useless when buses are operated by companies that can't actually operate a timetable properly.

And it doesn't help that not only can I not get real time information on anything but the Herts County Council issued app (which is at least free now, as initially it was about a fiver to buy!) but the system has no way to show a cancelled service. It means you have to guess if a bus isn't showing an estimated time. Is it defaulting to the timetable because of a problem with the machine on the bus, or does it not exist at all?

Makes a mockery of the whole point of providing real time information. I can only hope that HCC is fairly unique or God help people using buses elsewhere in the UK.

I can only dream that we might one day have the complex tracking system used in London where I can see where a bus is at any time, even the number plate of the bus and other detail (some of which I'd argue isn't really useful to me, but is nice to have for extra confirmation).
 

philjo

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I have found that the Intalink app stopped telling me realtime info a few months ago but the web version still works intermittently. The Inatalink app is also not very user friendly! I can't mark regular bus stops as favourites, so have to look them up every time.
I have bookmarked the links for a couple of my regular bus stops - if I open that in the web browser on my phone if usually does still give the realtime info for the 84s but nothing shows in the app.
it would be better if we can have one app for the whole country. the UK bus checker works well but as said the realtime info does not work for buses in Hertfordshire (though it will show the bus stops & timetable info). in other areas (e.g. in york) is showed the realtime info accurately.
 
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Robertj21a

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Google and the like gets timetable data, but that's pretty useless when buses are operated by companies that can't actually operate a timetable properly.

And it doesn't help that not only can I not get real time information on anything but the Herts County Council issued app (which is at least free now, as initially it was about a fiver to buy!) but the system has no way to show a cancelled service. It means you have to guess if a bus isn't showing an estimated time. Is it defaulting to the timetable because of a problem with the machine on the bus, or does it not exist at all?

Makes a mockery of the whole point of providing real time information. I can only hope that HCC is fairly unique or God help people using buses elsewhere in the UK.



I can only dream that we might one day have the complex tracking system used in London where I can see where a bus is at any time, even the number plate of the bus and other detail (some of which I'd argue isn't really useful to me, but is nice to have for extra confirmation).

The realtime data in the national Arriva app seems very reliable.
 

jon0844

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The realtime data in the national Arriva app seems very reliable.

Yes, it seems very good indeed. Up there with TfL. Sadly Arriva run very few services near me.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I have found that the Intalink app stopped telling me realtime info a few months ago but the web version still works intermittently. The Inatalink app is also not very user friendly! I can't mark regular bus stops as favourites, so have to look them up every time.
I have bookmarked the links for a couple of my regular bus stops - if I open that in the web browser on my phone if usually does still give the realtime info for the 84s but nothing shows in the app.
it would be better if we can have one app for the whole country. the UK bus checker works well but as said the realtime info does not work for buses in Hertfordshire (though it will show the bus stops & timetable info). in other areas (e.g. in york) is showed the realtime info accurately.

The Intalink app is buggy, and you can add favourites but sometimes launching the app has the icon missing. Not sure how/why?

And I lost all my prepaid tickets thanks to a software update. The app decided it was a new install and wouldn't restore my purchases. Makes you wonder why it even has a login as you can't actually logout and login on another phone and retain unused tickets.

HCC has admitted there are problems with real time info and are working on it. The last 'working on it' response was a few weeks ago. Before that, I saw a couple of months.

I suspect there's no rush. Chances are there's one person who has the job of maintaining things and is off sick, holiday or maybe even left and they're seeking a replacement!
 
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