Smart Transport

DfT paves the way for new powers to open up bus data in the UK

The Department for Transport (DfT) will introduce new regulations at the end of this year that will ensure bus operators openly publish data on fares and timetables.

The DfT has now posted the full Bus Open Data Service (BODS) regulations breakdown on its website and it is expected that new digital apps will be created using the open data to help passengers better plan their journeys in the future.

The new regulations will require all bus operators and certain local authorities in England outside Greater London to make their bus data available to the DfT who will in turn publish it online.

Part of the data will include details on routes, operators, stopping places, pricing, ticketing and timetables of bus services.

Any changes to services will have to be submitted to the DfT as part of the BODS.

Timetables and stop data requirements will be enforceable from December 31 this year.

Basic fares and ​location data will be enforceable from January 7, 2021, with complex fares being added from January 7, 2023.

Complex fares and tickets refers to more complicated ticket structures such as multi-operator passes.

Those operators who breach the new requirements may be faced with financial penalties or the removal of their licence.

Fines can be up to £550, and that sum could be multiplied by the number of vehicles operating under all the PSV operator licences held.

In a post on LinkedIn, Meera Nayyar, DfT head of passenger experience for buses and taxis, said: “We have made the Public Service Vehicle Open Data Regulations (the Bus Open Data Regs) to come into effect at the end of 2020.

"An important milestone and lots of stakeholders to thank.

“Increasingly governments are seeing that in a digital age, open data is a new policy lever that can be used alongside taxation, regulation and incentives.

“If you're a policy lead considering how to address market failures and structural inequalities, have you yet considered the value of open data?”

BODS is a devolved policy area but the DfT is in talks with devolved administrations to make sure data is interoperable. Scotland and Wales are also currently preparing similar BODS legalisation.

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