Could data innovations launch a 'golden age' for bus travel?

How data is used will continue to be important this year for transport connectivity and the development of digital infrastructure across the country. The Department of Transport has announced the launch of a Bus Open Data Service in early 2020 which would allow passengers to plan journeys down to the last minute, claiming this will begin 'a golden age' for bus travel.

The project across England to collate and share bus location data will allow passengers to plan routes, estimate journey times and understand costs in advance.

Buses Minister Baroness Vere announced the project as ground-breaking, and with the aim to standardise and publish information from operators enabling passengers to travel with confidence. Developers will be able to add the information into existing apps or develop new products to improve connectivity for communities.

The Bus Open Data Service will be underpinned by new regulations which will mean bus operators will be legally required to provide route and timetable data by the end of 2020 and fare, ticket and location data by 2021.

David Beardmore, Commercial Director, Open Data Institute, said:

'This marks the start of a digital transformation for the delivery of bus services across England and will benefit both the tech industry who will use the data to innovate and develop new products and services, but consumers are the ultimate winners, armed with better information they can plan their journeys more easily and make better ticket choices'.

The news follows the government's recent announcement of new low-fare, high frequency 'Superbus' networks, Britain's first bus town and contactless payments on every city bus.

The package is worth £220 million in the first year, and will create 'express lanes' for buses in the West Midlands and elsewhere, and will 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 long-term bus strategy and funding settlement, including support for councils who want to create London-style franchise services in their areas.

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