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Bus operators across England will start publishing information on services through the Bus Open Data Service as of January 2020.
The project will kick off with route and timetable information, and is expected to evolve to provide information on fares and real-time location data in early 2021.
By year-end, all operators will need to use the service, which will also allow third-party developers to use the information in offerings such as mobile apps, similar to what is already in place in London and Bristol.
Under the initiative, the department also expects to work with technology firms and information providers to introduce a range of innovative offerings to potential and existing bus users.
The project will also involve local authorities, operators and passengers to define what data should be available, such as timetables and maps, to enable those who don’t use mobile apps can also get bus information.
“By harnessing the transforming power of data and technology, we could be on the threshold of a golden age for buses,” said buses minister Charlotte Vere.
“Sharing data on routes, bus locations and fares will give passengers even more confidence to ride.”
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The benefits of the open data approach in public transport are significant: according to a Deloitte report published in 2017, open data had provided a boost of about £130m to the capital’s economy.
The Bus Open Data Service forms part of a £220m package supporting the country’s first long-term bus strategy and funding settlement. According to the Department for Transport, passengers want better information on services, and the government can only expect them to use buses more often if they know when and where they go and how much they cost.