Bus Open Data Service: Keeping it Simple with Ticketer

10 September 2020

With our Industry facing such significant challenges, I’m sure everyone would agree that making it easy for customers to plan journeys, and to have greater visibility of timetables and fares, is a no-brainer. And that’s exactly what lies behind the Department for Transport’s national strategy to open up data on buses.

Of course, many operators have been making information accessible for some time, but the DfT’s aim is to bring all buses up to that standard.

However, meeting these obligations for bus operators can be tricky, with many competing offerings available to operators on how they can fulfil their requirements, leaving operators confused as to which way to turn.

That’s why we wanted to reach out and say, we’ve got you covered. It’s that simple. If you already have Ticketer electronic ticket machines, then we’re likely to already be hosting the data required to meet your Bus Open Data Service (BODS) obligations. There’s no need for you to set up a team to focus on collating data or recruit an external consultant to advise. We’ve put in all the hard work, and will continue to do so, so you don’t have to.

Think of us as your partner, who can set up the tools you need to be able to seamlessly submit data to the BODS system. And in the vast majority of cases, at no extra cost to you. We really do not want you taking on unnecessary cost, or spending valuable management time, when we will deliver DfT requirements for you as part of our Ticketer service.

Meera Nayyar, Head of Passenger Experience, Buses and Taxis, Department for Transport comments:

From 2021, all operators of local bus services will be legally required to publish timetables, fares and location data onto the new Bus Open Data Service. Technology partners such as Ticketer will offer a vital support mechanism to the smallest of operators to help them publish this data onto the service and ensure operators are able to meet their statutory requirements. We’re really excited to see the progress Ticketer are making launching their solution and to hear the positive reaction from operators of all sizes. The open publication of live location data, timetables and fares data for local bus services across England is genuinely transformative for the TransTech sector in this country and will support the delivery of a world class passenger information offer for users of bus and public transport

Why is Ticketer well placed to support?

To reassure you further, it’s important to note that we are endorsed by the DfT. We have been working with them closely throughout, both in industry groups (BODS Implementation Group, PTIC and RTIG) and through regular, direct discussions with the DfT and their partners. In a recent DfT Press Release we were proud that every operator mentioned as a successful adopter was a Ticketer customer.

We have engaged with over 50 early adopter operators in helping them through their onboarding onto the BODS system. And importantly, we’ve been involved in feedback and suggested improvements with the DfT, in order to make the process for the operators as simple, and painless, as possible.

We have also delivered functionality early in the project to assist the DfT and partners, in their own testing of all three BODS areas. Therefore, Ticketer is already well versed in the requirements from BODS and the associated processes, and importantly, is well placed to deliver operator obligations, within the timescales set by the legislation. And we’ll continue to do so, as requirements evolve.

 

 

Graham Pether, Project Manager at The Go-Ahead Group comments:

Ticketer have provided an excellent set of tools for updating and maintaining our duties and schedules, so that our driving colleagues don’t have to worry about selecting the correct journeys on the ticket machine. Meanwhile, the full service hosting the Ticketer provides ensures we have a no-fuss solution for providing our live and scheduled data through the Department for Transport’s Bus Open Data Service.

As you know, we like to keep things simple. So below, we’ve covered the three key areas you will need to focus on:

1. BODS Location Information

All Ticketer ETMs are equipped with GPS, so are location aware. They communicate in real-time with the Ticketer back office, sending location data continuously to the Ticketer Back Office.

This information can be exposed through SIRI Vehicle Monitoring (VM) as required by open data. Most operators already deliver SIRI VM from their Ticketer solution to local authorities, websites or mobile apps, and this is simply just another SIRI feed. The BODS SIRI feed has been specified by the DfT, but this is all handled by Ticketer. You do not need to worry about the specifics on how the feed is configured, you just need to direct Ticketer to set up this feed on your behalf and that’s all there is to it.

Stuart Groom, Product Owner, On-Bus Technology at Arriva comments:

Ticketer have made the Open Data process much easier to setup and maintain. By providing an automated method for updating BODS from our configuration, instead of manually updating the files has made this much simpler and saved resources when changes are a busy period for the employees involved. We also have utilised Ticketer in providing real time information to BODS. This has been made simple; from us requesting a connection with Ticketer, to all information being provided, so the connection can be created.  Since implementing these for testing purposeswe are happy with how this is working, and this shows how Ticketer can take on a development, and work to deliver a working solution.

2. BODS Timetable requirements

If you are utilising Ticketer’s Schedule Adherence feature, you will have already loaded your timetables onto your Ticketer portal. This information is used to drive the Schedule Adherence functionality of your ETMs and back office control. Due to the operational importance to the bus operator’s day to day running, functionality allowing operators and their schedulers to edit and manage schedules and timetables already exists.

To allow operators to meet the BODS Timetable requirements, Ticketer will host and make the required TransXchange timetable information available to the BODS system. You simply copy your own specific web address, provided in the Ticketer portal, and paste it into the BODS portal.

In addition, changes to operators’ timetables, made within the Ticketer portal, are automatically reflected and updated in the BODS data, so you do not need to worry about when to update any BODS repositories, or how to do so through separate channels. As BODS has specified the version and structure of this data, Ticketer will ensure that all the requirements are met, and is committed to maintaining standards as they inevitably evolve, without you needing to worry.

 

Don’t just take our word for it, Graham Smith, Commercial Manager of Lynx in King’s Lynn was happy to share his thoughts on how smooth BODS delivery has been:

The Bus Open Data Service (BODS) includes three crucial elements; route and timetable data, AVL (Automatic Vehicle Location) data and fares data and we’re delighted to have been working with Ticketer and the DfT as an early adopter of this programme. The prospect for smaller bus operators, such as ourselves, may at first appear daunting but there is no need for concern at all as Ticketer have taken a lot of potentially time consuming and onerous work out for operators. We simply have to provide a URL link for all three elements which can easily be uploaded to the DfT BODS portal. It’s been an absolute pleasure in working with the extremely competent and proactive Ticketer team.

3. BODS Fares information

The last requirement of the current legislation is to publish BODS Fares information. As the majority of an operator’s tickets and fares are hosted within their Ticketing system, Ticketer already holds much of the information needing to be published. Ticketer is again exposing the relevant fare information, in the required DfT BODS NetEX standard, again hosting the information and automatically delivering it to the BODS system to ensure operators meet the requirements.

Our friendly support team is fully versed on BODS requirements, and can help walk you through the whole process, and continue to support you as requirements evolve. We advise where you can easily get the details requested by the BODS portal to complete your registration. And once complete, the Ticketer system takes care of delivering the data required, in the format needed, all from what you already manage on the Ticketer portal. As our favourite Meerkats would say, “Simples.”

And even if you don’t currently use our ETMs, we can still help you, please just contact us and we’ll explain how (and no, it doesn’t need any ETM purchase!).

If you take nothing else from this, just know that we’ve got your back, and all you need to do is give us a buzz, or drop us a line and we’ll be happy to make this process as simple as possible for you. As we always do.

 

Some of the things we have won

Named as “One to Watch” in the European Business Awards

Listed as 3rd in the Megabuyte Emerging Stars Awards which recognise the top 25 best-performing scale-up Companies of the Year in the UK, for industry-specific software

Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year & High Growth Business of the Year

Gold Winner of the Coach and Bus Innovation Challenge 2019 for our passenger app Kazoot

Read more on our press page

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