The move is designed to deliver Boris Johnson’s promise of improved transport infrastructure across the country. Baroness Vere, a transport minister with responsibility for the bus network, announced the Bus Open Data Service project yesterday. She wants passengers to get access to “real-time” bus location data through mobile phone apps so they can plan journeys down to the minute.
Information on routes and timetables will be available from early 2020, followed by location and fares data by 2021.
Ministers hope the move will encourage more people to travel by bus rather than car to help cut pollution.
Baroness Vere, said: “Buses are the most frequently used form of public transport – to get to work, to the library, to the doctors or to see family and friends.
“By harnessing the transforming power of data and technology we could be on the threshold of a golden age for buses.
“Sharing data on routes, bus locations and fares will give passengers even more confidence to ride.”
Only half of bus users find it is easy to stay up to date with timetables and fares, according to the independent travel watchdog Transport Focus.
The Bus Open Data Service will be underpinned by new regulations which will mean bus operators are legally required to provide route and timetable data by the end of 2020 and fare, ticket and location data by 2021.
Transport Focus director David Sidebottom said: “Making it easier for passengers to find bus times and fares is good news.
“Ensuring that information is accurate and timely will be crucial to the success of the open data service.”
The Government intends to work with technology companies, app developers and information providers to ensure a range of products to help passengers get access to bus travel information.
Full data on fares and locations will be available from January 2021 under the scheme.
By then, ministers expect a range of apps to be on the market that will allow passengers to manage their journeys from start to finish from their smart phones.