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UK wants to use location data to empower more bus passengers

The government has announced £4 million in funding for a platform that will enable app developers to use information from GPS trackers.

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The uncertainty of when a bus will turn up is one of the barriers to travel
The uncertainty of when a bus will turn up is one of the barriers to travel

The UK government has announced £4m funding for a platform that would provide location information about bus services, giving passengers greater certainty about when their bus will arrive.

 

The platform will enable app developers to use information from GPS trackers, which are already fitted to 97 per cent of buses. Such a service is available in some major cities but the Government wants to provide people across the country, including rural and remote areas, the ability to plan journeys more easily.

 

Barrier to bus use

 

Research shows that one of the barriers to young people using buses is not having information readily available on their phones. The drive towards improved and open data for bus services across England is the first step in cutting the barriers to introducing mobility-as-a-service, one-stop-ticketing products and applications, in a bid to increase usage.

 

“People expect to turn up to a bus stop knowing when their next service will arrive, particularly in rural areas,” said Buses Minister Nusrat Ghani. “We’re investing in systems to make it easier for people to find out where their bus is, how much it will cost and how long it will take.

 

"This will save the time people waste waiting, give more people certainty over services and help increase passenger numbers.

“We’re investing in systems to make it easier for people to find out where their bus is, how much it will cost and how long it will take"

The UK Government hopes it could help revolutionise bus travel and move the country a step closer to mobility-as-a-service and on-demand public transport systems.

 

On-demand bus travel is already available in Liverpool, run by ArrivaClick. Routes are not fixed, but are determined by where passengers want to go within a corridor. These services are driven by high quality data and computer-based algorithms.

 

The funding announced today builds on the Government’s recently published Future of mobility urban strategy, which looks at how people will use transport in the future and how new technology can make journeys better.

 

The government is also investing in ways to speed up bus journeys. As part of the first tranche of the £2.5 billion Transforming Cities Fund, Derby and Nottingham, the North East, Portsmouth and Southampton will see the deployment of bus priority traffic lights to speed up trips to the city centres.

 

The bus open data regulations are being implemented as part of the Bus Services Act, which gives local authorities additional powers to partner with bus operators and shape services in their areas to deliver improvements to passengers.

 

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