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Author Topic: Open Bus Data  (Read 3249 times)
Tim
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« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2017, 02:18:19 pm »

My point being that many buses are untrackable right now & there's quite a cost to the operators in doing this. Until the vast majority are trackable, isn't this a bit premature?

There's little enough profit in a lot of operators businesses that many won't be able to afford to do it.

Another way of looking at it is that the cost of installing the tracking system on the buses is the expensive bit whereas releasing the data ought to be relatively cheap.  If a bus company has gone to the expense of making there buses trackable then why not maximise the return on that investment by releasing the data?

I'm note sure that there is very much to pay for.  If the buses are already being tracked and that data is sat on a bus company server, the incremental cost of making it publically available is relatively small and of course the bus company will benefit if it encourages more passengers onto its buses. 

The "who's going to pay for it" question is an important question but one that has already been answered.  The expensive bit has already been paid for somehow.   Spending money on tracking buses but sitting on the resultant data would be like the ONS spending millions on conducting a census and then keeping all the data secret. 

Grovelling apologies for an often used quote, but "ooos gonna pay for it"  Embarrassed
OK, the operator has paid for tracking of most of it's fleet.  It would like a return on that cost by releasing it to an outside independent organisation for a cost.  If they then provide realtime tracking'ish they will want to pass that cost on and make a small profit.  So the passenger will pay for the privilege of tracking?
Tracking'ish as when vehicles develop a fault and are taken off the road/return to depot empty, someone tracking will be annoyed it was almost with them, then vanishes/goes on a return dead journey.
Fortunately, Kernow are totally paranoid about not having any dead runs wherever possible, hence why on occasions two vehicles are within a few minutes of each other; Tinners excepted, of course.  They seem to run together naturally  Sad
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stuving
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« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2017, 05:20:09 pm »

|And where can one obtain easily this ever-changing data that can change anytime, with only 6 weeks notice? There is no central location. As I said, overly premature, methinks

As the OP made clear, what's happening is three workshops to discuss what to do and how if bus open data is to work. The DfT are specifically looking for help with implementing the open data provisions in this year's Buys Act. It itself the act makes nothing happen; regulations have to be drafted for next year. If bus operators, local authorities, or anyone else is to be compelled to do anything that's how it would be.

I fail to see how that can be premature.

The workshops appear to be organised by ODI Leeds, even the London one, though it isn't on their website. It is here, on Eventbrite:
Quote
Thursday 23 November
Urban Innovation Centre, London

The Department for Transport (DfT) in collaboration with ODI Leeds is holding workshops, in three locations in England, in November and December 2017.

These workshops will give local authorities, bus operators, transport data providers, and other interested stakeholders an opportunity to discuss the open data provisions in the Bus Services Act 2017.

Who should attend a workshop?

DfT is developing a robust open data platform/policy that will deliver the best outcomes for passengers. These workshops will be of interest to:
    Local authorities
    Bus operators including small-medium sized operators
    Transport data providers and users
    Digital developers including journey planner providers
    Organisations representing bus passengers and the bus industry
    Transport academics

Why attend?


DfT is keen to hear from you about how bus open data could work in practice and for users to shape next steps of the legislative framework i.e. the Bus Services Act (2017).
Although we will do our best to allow everyone an opportunity to attend, places are limited so we advise early sign up.
We look forward to seeing you!

Agenda
13:00 - 13:30 Meet, greet, and coffee
Grab a cuppa and take a seat, get to know the other attendees.

13:30 - 14:15 Introduction and overview of BSA Act 2017
Types of information that can be required and made openly available via legislation
    Full route and timetable data for journey planning
    Live information (Real time and disruption data)
    Punctuality data
    Fares and ticket types
    Information on stopping places - National Public transport access nodes (NaPTAN)

14:15 - 15:15 Lightning Talks
Traveline - what we already know
TfN - what they're trying to achieve
DfT - update on discovery/what need know Arriva
TfL - the value added for London
ODI - the art of the possible

15:15 16:30
Break out working groups
- what works
- what needs to happen
- what shouldn't happen

16:30 - 17:00
Wrap up and discussion, final thoughts from the day, and discussion about what needs to happen next.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2017, 01:55:30 pm »

Having seen the agenda above, it isn't....the session at 1415 looks forward, although I'd have thought everyone attending would want to be in every breakout session?
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2017, 11:06:41 pm »

... I'd have thought everyone attending would want to be in every breakout session?

... and so would I.  I can't quite see how those three 'questions' can be treated separately - surely they all overlap?  Or is the intention that each 'breakout working group' considers all three aspects, and perhaps combine their findings?  It's not entirely clear.  Undecided

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« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2017, 03:37:57 pm »

Just to provide some info from an Operators point of view. Most operators now have tracking incorporated into their ticket machines and have since 2012. There is a cost associated with this that operators pay for (data transfer/SIM costs) to the supplying ticket machine/tracking company. BaNES Council undertook an exercise soon after operators had these machines to to upgrade their bus stops with RTI. The cost of installing the infrastructure was paid by the Council. Operators do not get paid for providing the information to the Council but rather contribute funding towards the ongoing maintenance and data processing costs associated with the system. Whilst there are very few RTI systems in Wiltshire any services which go into BANES, such as the X72, 272, X31, 265, can still be tracked using RTI on several apps which use the data e.g UK Buschecker.
There was talk a few years ago from Wiltshire Council of installing RTI screens at key locations across Wiltshire, Bus Stations, Railway Stations, Market Places etc but since budgets have been cut further in the last couple of years it has gone all quiet again.
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Tim
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« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2017, 04:32:19 pm »

I have to say as a Bath bus user that the RTI information in our city is worse than useless.  I don't know if this is the fault of the bus companies or the council, but the data is seldom complete or accurate, and incomplete and incorrect information is worse than no information at all.

The problem seems to have been caused by a lack of clarity as to whether the information displayed should be driven by the timetable (ie just serve as an electronic scrolling version of the paper timetable) or whether it should be driven by the bus tracking.  It seems to be driven by a mishmash of data from both sources.  This means that fantasy bus times appear and then are adjusted as the real bus starts to be tracked, except sometimes the two buses fail to merge into one and sometimes the tracking doesn't work (maybe the equipment is broken or the driver has forgotten to switch it on).  We also have an unhelpful "delayed" indication  which flashes with the expected time.  Noone seems to know whether "delayed" alternating with "5 mins" means that the bus ought to be here in 5 minutes but is delayed by an unspecified amount and will therefore take longer than 5 minutes (in which case why is "5 mins" regarded as remotely relevant information) or that it is expected in 5 minutes and that is 5 minutes after it is supposed to be there (in which case why tell us it is delayed - all I care about is that there will be a bus in 5 minutes).  I would favour displays which only started showing a bus when it had been started at the bus station and had its ticket machine programmed ready to leave.  Of course for bus stops close to the bus station that would mean that buses would show for only a few minutes before they arrive, but at least the information would be useable so far as it goes.  The presence of fantasy buses on the display mean that the system has lost all credibility.  BathNES council has lost further credibility in my eyes by installing plenty of bus shelters which look trendy but have opaque sides so that you can't see the bus approach if you are in them and bus stops which look very trendy but which are monolithic slabs rather than posts which mean the passengers loose eye contact with bus drivers behind a monolith just at the point when they are wondering if their hand signal to stop has been seen.

RTI is good in other places, but the system as used in Bath seems to capture the worst of both worlds in that it costs money or the tax and farepayer and doesn't improve bus usability.  Complaints to the Council about the waste of money illicit the reply that it was EU money as if that makes it alright.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 04:39:23 pm by Tim » Logged
grahame
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« Reply #21 on: November 22, 2017, 04:46:17 pm »

Just to provide some info from an Operators point of view. Most operators now have tracking incorporated into their ticket machines and have since 2012. There is a cost associated with this that operators pay for (data transfer/SIM costs) to the supplying ticket machine/tracking company. BaNES Council undertook an exercise soon after operators had these machines to to upgrade their bus stops with RTI. The cost of installing the infrastructure was paid by the Council. Operators do not get paid for providing the information to the Council but rather contribute funding towards the ongoing maintenance and data processing costs associated with the system. Whilst there are very few RTI systems in Wiltshire any services which go into BANES, such as the X72, 272, X31, 265, can still be tracked using RTI on several apps which use the data e.g UK Buschecker.
There was talk a few years ago from Wiltshire Council of installing RTI screens at key locations across Wiltshire, Bus Stations, Railway Stations, Market Places etc but since budgets have been cut further in the last couple of years it has gone all quiet again.

Many thanks for that input - there's an issue with these information systems in the financial and operation load placed on the operators.  And it's very much the smaller organisations that have the one-off overhead of looking after their part of the system without an enormous quantity benefit in doing so that have a disproportionate load placed on them.

Very similar thing came up today with reporting and evaluating community rail - for someone like Devon and Cornwall, or Sussex, with multiple lines the overhead can be spread over multiple lines / trains and an increased burden may not be an issue.   For TransWilts, with a single one carriage train and a part time job role only, having to fit in the fixed element common to all CRPs is much more of an issue ... an increase of staff at ACoRP means an increase of people who want to engage (it's in their job descriptions!) and can be stretching - all good stuff, but a limit as to what we can do.

In the medium to longer term, increased and better data availability should help generate more passenger numbers and help newcomers to the buses, so it's not looked at as being a cost with no return (what I am told - please don't quote that as my view - I'm not qualified to comment).  However, if the intent is to run bus services primarily for the established base of users with little market development (perhaps that extra traffic isn't going to be commercial) then I can quite see an "ooz gunna pay" question being real, and a feeling of unhappiness at the new requirement.

As a bus operator, are you going along tomorrow?    The DfT are looking for inputs, and would welcome the view of a medium sized independent.
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froome
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« Reply #22 on: November 22, 2017, 08:52:29 pm »

I have to say as a Bath bus user that the RTI information in our city is worse than useless.  I don't know if this is the fault of the bus companies or the council, but the data is seldom complete or accurate, and incomplete and incorrect information is worse than no information at all.

The problem seems to have been caused by a lack of clarity as to whether the information displayed should be driven by the timetable (ie just serve as an electronic scrolling version of the paper timetable) or whether it should be driven by the bus tracking.  It seems to be driven by a mishmash of data from both sources.  This means that fantasy bus times appear and then are adjusted as the real bus starts to be tracked, except sometimes the two buses fail to merge into one and sometimes the tracking doesn't work (maybe the equipment is broken or the driver has forgotten to switch it on).  We also have an unhelpful "delayed" indication  which flashes with the expected time.  Noone seems to know whether "delayed" alternating with "5 mins" means that the bus ought to be here in 5 minutes but is delayed by an unspecified amount and will therefore take longer than 5 minutes (in which case why is "5 mins" regarded as remotely relevant information) or that it is expected in 5 minutes and that is 5 minutes after it is supposed to be there (in which case why tell us it is delayed - all I care about is that there will be a bus in 5 minutes).  I would favour displays which only started showing a bus when it had been started at the bus station and had its ticket machine programmed ready to leave.  Of course for bus stops close to the bus station that would mean that buses would show for only a few minutes before they arrive, but at least the information would be useable so far as it goes.  The presence of fantasy buses on the display mean that the system has lost all credibility.  BathNES council has lost further credibility in my eyes by installing plenty of bus shelters which look trendy but have opaque sides so that you can't see the bus approach if you are in them and bus stops which look very trendy but which are monolithic slabs rather than posts which mean the passengers loose eye contact with bus drivers behind a monolith just at the point when they are wondering if their hand signal to stop has been seen.

RTI is good in other places, but the system as used in Bath seems to capture the worst of both worlds in that it costs money or the tax and farepayer and doesn't improve bus usability.  Complaints to the Council about the waste of money illicit the reply that it was EU money as if that makes it alright.

As a very frustrated bus user in Bath I quite agree. I was really pleased when they first appeared, as not knowing when a bus might appear makes standing at a cold bus stop not a pleasant prospect. However, I soon came to find that the information given can be (in about equal measure):
a) Roughly accurate
b) Completely inaccurate, i.e. forecasting a bus to arrive in three minutes that doesn't arrive for 30, as happened just a few days ago.
c) Totally misleading, i.e. forecasting a bus to arrive in 7 minutes so I decide to quickly walk to the shops, only to see said bus passing me by one minute later (and not knowing if that is a 'phantom' bus and that the forecasted one will appear as predicted, or whether that is the forecasted one).

As Tim says, if it can't be relied on, it is worse than not having any information at all.
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grahame
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« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2017, 07:33:41 am »


As a very frustrated bus user in Bath I quite agree. I was really pleased when they first appeared, as not knowing when a bus might appear makes standing at a cold bus stop not a pleasant prospect. However, I soon came to find that the information given can be (in about equal measure):
a) Roughly accurate
b) Completely inaccurate, i.e. forecasting a bus to arrive in three minutes that doesn't arrive for 30, as happened just a few days ago.
c) Totally misleading, i.e. forecasting a bus to arrive in 7 minutes so I decide to quickly walk to the shops, only to see said bus passing me by one minute later (and not knowing if that is a 'phantom' bus and that the forecasted one will appear as predicted, or whether that is the forecasted one).

As Tim says, if it can't be relied on, it is worse than not having any information at all.


You also have to know the final destination of your bus ... no map at all for the out of town busses and only final destination shown.  e.g. 271 at 20:09 shown to Urchfont is clearly the bus for Box, Atworth, Melksham and Devizes, isn't it?  Wink  . Few (if any) staff around to help - though plenty of passengers - into the evening, lack of buses on the left hand side ("Dorchester Street") shown on the displays, displays only at the very ends and not seen by anyone without superb vision in the middle.

The Bath Bus User Panel has had the issues with accurate forecasting excuses explained to it ... but in reality, someone needs to get a real grip on the whole information and real time bus thing, not just Bath.   I was in London with Lisa last night, using buses - "Isn't this bus information at the stop really good" she says.  Yes, and it is proves it can be done.  Of course, the Bath excuse of "buses get caught in traffic" doesn't apply in London or ... or wait ... yes it does. Certainly applied last night, but data still seemed good!
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froome
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« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2017, 10:04:16 am »

Yes destinations is another of a seemingly very long list of problems with Bath bus information. Another which irks me is that the bus station has maps showing Bath's bus network, but of course it only shows those services run by First, so there is nothing to tell you that there are actually buses serving other parts of the city which appear on the map to be 'bus deserts'.

Back on the topic of real bus time, the screens happily tick down the minutes and then say Due. Normally this seems to mean that the bus is likely to appear in the next minute, but at times it seems to mean you will be hanging around for several minutes. Obviously traffic conditions do cause buses real problems in the city, but they can't explain all the instances I've seen of this happening.
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Tim
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« Reply #25 on: November 23, 2017, 11:01:14 am »

I suspect that the problem with the information in Bath is that there is no "supervision" of the buses as there would be in London.  I get the impression that the drivers are left to turn up for their shift, programme their ticket machine and take the bus out without an "inspector" of similar supervising them.  This means that if they don't turn up, or if they arrive late (perhaps because their inbound journey is late), or the bus isn't there for them to drive, or their ticket machine is faulty or not being used correctly, then management doesn't notice and the RTI system just trolls on displaying the faulty information.

Of course proper supervision of buses requires money, but I despair at the fact that millions of pounds can be wasted on a worse than useless RTI information and swanking new bus shelters but that money is not available to make the buses reliable and affordable. 
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« Reply #26 on: November 23, 2017, 11:22:26 am »

On taking a bus out for the first run of the day, a driver only has 12 minutes to do a complete check of that vehicle and sign the defect card (a legal document which then means if VOSA pulls him up later and find a defect, it's the drivers neck on the line).
12 minutes may sound a lot, but try it! Especially in a decker.  IF everything is OK then well and good however.  If the driver finds a headlight out/ramp not working/bells not working, he then has to find an engineer.  Rather like 'where's wally'.  A big yard with busses everywhere, that engineer could be anywhere.  All takes time.  Engineer comes over & hopefully sorted in five minutes or so.  Thus later departure from yard.  If the engineer is still fiddling, comes to the conclusion the vehicle is off the road and to take another one.  Into the office (who are busy on the phones with sick staff & inter depot vehicle movements) & ask for another one please.  Allocated one, so back into the yard and start the checks over again.  Hopefully all good so leave the yard up to 30 minutes late.
On hand over generally (especially 10's/17's - A17's) only five minutes is allocated for vehicle arrive in the station; off load, drive and park up, driver change, check bus quickly, sign defect card, log on to ticket machine, put change into coin trays, roll on to stand & load up.  Of course, if you are late arrival, the change over will add to that delay.
Again if VOSA stop you and find a defect, you cannot say you've just taken over.  You've signed the card so legally you sign the vehicle is roadworthy.
There are several vehicles without tracking (or outdated tracking) and no radio's.  So some will show on RTI displays, and some won't!  I thought due meant within 2 or 3 minutes.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2017, 11:31:52 am by GBM » Logged

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