The Bus Open Data Service (BODS) is a new platform that will provide access to bus data with the aim of improving the passenger experience across the UK. Launched into Beta in February 2020, it aims to be the first step in removing barriers to introducing Mobility-as-a-Service and providing UK bus passengers with a centralised source of data about bus times, routes and fares. 

To support bus operators in publishing data to BODS in time to meet upcoming regulations, Passenger has launched a new hosted service making it possible for even more of its customers to automatically link their TransXChange data directly to BODS, without the overhead of logging into BODS to manage it. A time-saving that’s especially welcome in the current climate, with so many operator admin teams temporarily scaled-down through furlough. 

Under regular operating conditions, across England, 12 million bus trips are made daily, but to support environmental targets and move to more efficient travel formats, this number needs to rise in the future. One of the main barriers to travellers using buses is the lack of readily-available information – putting fare, times and live location data at their fingertips will cut the uncertainty out of bus travel. The drive to improve open data for bus services throughout the country will play a critical role in increasing usage.

Crucially, bus users, particularly those in rural and underserved areas, need to know with certainty when their next bus will arrive at their bus stop. Investing in systems to make this easier will give people certainty over services and help increase passenger numbers. This certainty was at the centre of a joint initiative by Passenger and Ticketer to ensure customer information was as accurate as possible for keyworkers and those making essential bus journeys during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bus open data regulations are being implemented as part of the Bus Services Act 2017, which gives local authorities additional powers to partner with bus operators and shape services in their areas to deliver improvements for passengers. 

UK bus operators have a legal requirement to upload their timetable data to BODS by January 2021 (as things currently stand) so that developers can use the data to create new products and services. In time, BODS will include data from the GPS trackers already fitted to 97% of buses, providing people across the country the ability to plan journeys more easily. 

The creation of the BODS follows a 2017 Department for Transport consultation which aimed to find ways to help deliver the following government manifesto commitment: 

“We will publish far more information about public services online, including relevant information about local issues and public transport so that every person can find up-to-date information about…bus routes online, without the hassle and delay that currently exists.” 

Passenger’s digital services platform, Passenger Cloud, provides a link to the datasets required by BODS, all of which are now available via our hosted service. This keeps operators ahead of the curve in terms of government regulations and in providing data that positively impacts on how people use buses.

Simon Gold, Commercial Systems & Project Manager at Reading Buses comments “Passenger’s hosted open data service works incredibly well – this is really great stuff and we cant wait to see what people can do with access to it. This is something that could start changing the game for UK bus travel”. As Reading Buses has grown its operations across the Thames Valley, Simon has become responsible for ensuring that each of the group’s operating companies and brands, including Greenline and Kennections, can easily manage and publish its data.

As part of our hosted open data service, Passenger offers easy access to network data that defines timetables, lines, operators, tracks etc, plus a mobile ticket products section where operators with mobile ticketing can add the tickets they offer to Passenger Cloud so anyone can easily see what tickets an operator offers. Converted OpenStreetMap data and stop data is also available.

Looking to the future, Passenger will continue to ensure that operators remain compliant with government regulations and that the data they produce is available in the most manageable formats, harnessed as an asset for the public good and used to develop the UK’s public transport infrastructure. 

Keep up to date with our email newsletter