Transport for the North launch bus fares publication technology

Posted: 10 December 2020 | | No comments yet

Transport for the North’s new data system will make it easier for bus operators to publish their fares online, according to the authority.

bus on West Street, Sheffield

Sheffield's bus network could be in for a shake-up under the new plans

Transport for the North (TfN) has announced the public launch of a new ‘Create Fares Data Service’ which the authority says will help bus operators across the country more easily publish fares online and in journey planning apps.

By unlocking fares data, the ultimate aim of the initiative is to provide passengers across the North and nationwide with better access to information about how much their next bus journey will cost.

Passenger insight research commissioned by Transport for the North shows an increasing number of people are using smartphones to navigate to their destination (69 per cent in 2020, up from 64 per cent in 2019). However, research also shows bus fares have long been seen as one of the key pieces of missing digital travel information; uncertainty about how much a journey will cost is an important factor in dissuading many people from choosing to use bus according to TfN.

The Create Fares Data Service aims to resolve this by providing the technological capability for any bus operator to publish fares in a standardised data format than can be used by industry-leading companies such as Google, Citymapper, Moovit and other data-driven developers and provided back to customers via their preferred digital information channel.

The tool has been delivered in partnership with the Department for Transport and Traveline as part of Transport for the North’s Integrated and Smart Travel programme.

Transport for the North’s Integrated and Smart Travel Director, Jeremy Acklam, said: “In an era where we can use our smartphones to order a taxi, the weekly shop or a takeaway and track it right to our doors, we really should be easily able to find out how much a bus journey will cost before we jump onboard. Harnessing the power of open data, the Create Fares Data Service will help unlock this information and make it more readily available online and in travel apps so passengers can better plan their journeys and choose bus as a convenient and sustainable way to travel.

“With ongoing travel restrictions, it’s more important now than ever before that passengers – particularly key workers – have reliable and timely information available at their fingertips so they can travel safely and with confidence on public transport when necessary. Working in collaboration with the Department for Transport, local authorities, operators and the wider technology sector, we are pleased to be driving forward enhancements to the digital travel information available across bus, tram and rail in the North of England and beyond.”

The service has been developed in time to support bus operators nationwide in complying with upcoming Government legislature which requires the publication of fares, and other travel information, as standardised open data from January 2021. This legislation has been spearheaded by the Department for Transport’s Bus Open Data Programme which has developed its own Digital Service to support the open publication of this data.

Transport for the North will be handing over ownership of the Create Fares Data Service to the Department for Transport to provide it as a national solution before the end of the year.