At Passenger we’re working with Transport for the North on their ambitious Integrated and Smart Travel (IST) programme, with the aspiration to make it easier for people to travel around the North of England. 

The programme aims to create the digital infrastructure that’s required to enable information to flow, helping to build trust in the public transport network throughout the region. 

Rather than creating apps themselves to deliver this information, TfN has adopted an open data strategy and is engaging with Passenger and other commercial third parties to enable the use of its data to meet the needs of users. 

Throughout 2019 Passenger has been collaborating with the programme team at TfN, led by Richard Mason, TfN’s Information Strategy Manager, to shape the outcomes through regular consultation on requirements for the data. 

Talking about TfN’s Customer Information Innovation event in Leeds this week, Mason comments, “We wanted to bring together our LTA partners with leading developers in the Open Data community. A chance to explore opportunities for collaboration and innovation to improve public transport information for passengers across the North”. 

GTFS Realtime-based disruptions in Transdev’s Passenger-powered mobile app

The session was the perfect opportunity to share some of Passenger’s thinking around enhancing the information available to customers when something goes wrong on the transport network. Building on Passenger’s GTFS realtime-based disruption system, part of its Passenger Cloud platform used by bus operators across the UK, the development will blend existing disruption information created directly by operators with disruption data from trusted external sources; namely, local authorities (or LAs, LTAs and PTEs, as they can also be referred to) based in the North. 

Using a tool developed by TfN, local authorities will be able to publish disruption information in a consistent format. This open data can be consumed by third-party applications such as the Passenger’s white-labelled smartphone and website apps. Those bus and light rail operators include Blackpool Transport, East Yorkshire, Transdev, Warrington’s Own Buses and most recently Go North East, whose new Passenger website will roll out in early 2020. With approximately 1500 vehicles altogether, this group of northern operators alone represents around 5% of the UK’s 30,000 buses.

At the TfN stakeholder event Passenger’s CEO, Tom Quay shared how the company’s Passenger Cloud interface will evolve to manage the additional TfN-enabled data. “Our emphasis is on giving operators the controls they need to share external sources of disruption information with customers through their established online channels. This data will enhance the information they are already publishing in their Passenger apps and websites to provide a more complete, real-time overview of disruptions on the network.“

The improvements, enabled by Passenger’s ongoing engagement with TfN, will streamline the information that had previously been sent by email to operators. By standardising the data into an easy to use format it can feed straight into the right systems and then shared with customers faster and more accurately than ever before.

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