With the grace period for operators providing live vehicle location data to BODS coming to an end, Scott James, CEO and founder of Rise Digital Media, takes a look at how simple and effective digital solutions (apps) can ensure operators remain compliant of the regulations.
What is BODS?
The Department for Transport’s Bus open data service, more commonly known as BODS, is designed to provide timetable information, vehicle location and fares data for every local bus service in England.
Data collected from recent Transport Focus surveys (of thousands of bus users) has revealed that a perceived “lack of journey planning information” is a major contributor to falling bus passenger numbers across the country, especially outside of London. DfT is rightly keen to address this issue and get more people taking the bus.
Knowing the precise location of bus services, as well as up to the minute arrival and departure times, is key to arresting the decline in numbers, alleviating passenger frustration, and reducing waiting times at bus stops and stations.
BODS was therefore introduced in 2020 to make it easier for passengers to plan and take buses, allowing them, as DfT states on its website, to “plan journeys with confidence”, “spend less time waiting” and find “best value tickets”.
There are many apps and journey planning websites, including our own NextStop© and BusHub platforms, already providing high-quality bus service and timetable information, and the introduction of BODS with the addition of fares, tickets, and vehicle location data will only further improve these services and enhance the passenger experience.
All information held in BODS is available as ‘open data’ - a requirement of the Public Service Vehicle Open Data England Regulations - meaning it can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone.
What it means in practice
Simply put, operators of bus services in England are now required to make the following information freely available:
(1) Single, return and weekly tickets/passes
(2) 12-month grace period offered
(3) Complex fares and ticket data - multi-operator passes
Services in scope of BODS
If your service* is registered with the Traffic Commissioner - whether it’s a local bus service, school contract, corporate travel or similar – then it will fall into scope of BODS.
*Local service as defined by section 6 of the Road Traffic Act 1985.
If in doubt or you would like to check the status of your services, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gov.uk/government/collections/bus-open-data-service.
Requirement of operators
The legislation introducing BODS came into force on 6 August 2020 and the deadlines for operators submitting various elements of their data is outlined above.
At Rise Digital Media our primary focus is providing operators with a simple and cost-effective solution for publishing live vehicle location data direct to BODS. This can be achieved using our NextStop© Driver App* which, once activated and placed onboard a vehicle (using a compatible device), enables an in-service bus (or coach) to be tracked as soon as the driver selects and starts the journey.
The data collected by the app is automatically pushed to BODS without any further involvement or action from the driver or operator. You can read more on how this works here.
*The NextStop© Driver App is freely available to download from the Google Play store.
There is no need for a traditional ticket machine to be installed on the vehicle for the purposes of BODS, you just need a mobile device (tablet) with our NextStop© Driver App installed to it.
Getting up and running with NextStop©
Before we get you onboard with NextStop©, operators must register an online account with BODS and add Rise Digital Media as their BODS “agent”. This can be completed online at the DfT website.
The team at Rise Digital Media will then work with you to publish all relevant bus service data (timetables, routes, frequencies, stops, drivers and vehicles) to the NextStop© dashboard before setting it live to the App.
Once this has all been completed (the whole process can take as little as 24hrs) assigned drivers will be able to login to the App with their unique user ID and pin, select the trip and vehicle they are taking, before hitting start.
The NextStop© Driver App is available to download from the Google Play store to any compatible Android device or tablet. At Rise Digital Media we offer competitive 12, 24 and 36-month leasing agreements for both devices and data. Contact us on email@example.com to find out more.
Costs and financial support
Our BODS tracking and App solutions starts from just 50p per vehicle, per day. Additional setup and device leasing fees may apply. To find out more about any financial support which may be available to you for your BODS tracking service, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timetable and fares data
Although our focus is very much on making sure operators provide live vehicle location data to BODS, we can also support you with the publishing of timetable and fares data if required.