The UK‘s local public transport data is effectively a closed dataset. The situation in the US seems similar: In spite of the benefits only a handful of agencies have released raw data freely (such as BART and TriMet on the west coast of America).
That hasn’t stopped “screen-scraping” of data or simply typing in paper timetables (from Urban Mapping to many listed here). Unfortunately, the legal basis for scraping is complex, which creates significant risks for anyone building a business. For example, earlier this year, airline Ryanair requested the removal of all their data from Skyscanner, a flight price comparison site that gathers data by scraping airlines’ websites. How many airlines would need to object to their data being scraped before a “price comparison” service becomes unusable?
User-generated mapping content is evolving, often to circumvent restrictive distribution of national mapping. Services include OpenStreetMap and the recently announced Google Map Maker.
Micro-blogging, primarily through Twitter, has started to show the potential of individual travellers to report information about their journeys: Ron Whitman‘s Commuter Feed is a good example. Tom Morris has also experimented with London Twitter feeds.
This article outlines why the “social web”/tech-entrepreneur sector may wish to stop trying to use official sources of data, and instead apply the technology it understands best: People. Read More
The United Kingdom’s local public transport network is likely to become part of Google Transit. Technically that should be far easier in the UK than in North America, where Google Transit was first developed: The UK has a decade’s bitter experience putting all the data together. In practice it is raising wider issues over data control and availability, that the public sector is somewhat reluctant to tackle.
This article describes how the UK’s public transport data is being integrated into Google. It questions why data is being made available based solely on the business model adopted. It explores the real value of this information, and presents a case for the liberalisation of data.
Readers unfamiliar with the topic area should read my earlier Introduction to UK Local Public Transport Data, which contains non-technical background information, and defines many of the terms used (such as “local”). The original research for this was done in June/July 2007, so may now be slightly out of date.
The illustration on the right is the Google part of a visual representation of web trends, based on the Tokyo metro map, by Information Architects Japan.
This article provides a basic non-technical introduction to the United Kingdom’s electronic local public transport data: The data sources primarily used to produce passenger travel information. It does not cover solely operational data, for example, financial, patronage or staff rostering.
The article is intended to provide a background for anyone wishing to understand how these data sources might be used. It was written to support my commentary on the Implications of Google Transit in the UK. The article first introduces the local public transport sector (primarily bus and rail), then explores the development of different data formats, before summarising data availability.
“Scaling the Bus Stop – A New Approach to Park and Ride”, was originally presented to the Scottish Transport Applications and Research conference (STAR), in Glasgow on 19 April 2006.
The paper explores how bus-based Park and Ride can be developed within rural and peri-urban areas. It draws on research that examined the implementation and usage of Ellon Park and Ride. Ellon Park and Ride is located almost 15 miles from the periphery of Aberdeen and served by conventional local bus services. A high proportion of users are commuters who would otherwise complete their journey by car. The scheme is relatively cost-effective, while contributing to the viability of the commercial bus network. Based on the research, a new approach to ‘Micro Park and Ride’ is developed – one that scales conventional Park and Ride down to focus on very local markets. The paper discusses how scaling can be used to access and develop different segments of the public transport market.
The paper was written by Tim Howgego while at DHC, and draws extensively on research conducted for Aberdeenshire Council/Sustaccess. The full final report from the original project is also available (PDF 1.7MB).