Transport for the North investing in new ‘smart’ tools for public transport


The UK’s first statutory sub-national transport body, Transport for the North (TfN) has announced funding for two new ‘smart’ tools that will transform the provision of public transport data and make journeys on the region’s network simpler and easier to plan.

TfN has awarded contracts to Trapeze Group UK to deliver an ‘Open Data Hub’, and to Ito World to develop a ‘Disruption Messaging Tool’. Both initiatives are part of Phase Two of the £150m (US$189.4m), Department for Transport (DfT) funded, Integrated and Smart Travel (IST) program. A recent TfN customer insight survey revealed that there is a clear need and opportunity to enhance the information passengers receive when travelling on public transport. Phase Two of IST, ‘Customer information, collaboration and innovation’, will do this by extending the same open source fares data and disruption information experience that rail passengers currently enjoy, to bus and tram journeys.

IST ultimately aims to deliver ‘London-style’ account-based ticketing with contactless capped payments on multi-mode, multi-operator public transport journeys across the North of England. The Open Data Hub will be a pan-Northern tool for local authorities and operators to collate and host transport data such as fares and disruption information. This information will then be made openly available to suppliers of journey planning apps and other data developers to provide to passengers. The £260,000 (US$328,200) hub is being delivered by global mobility technology systems provider Trapeze Group UK, with the platform expected to go live in December 2019.

The £500,000 (US$631,000) contract for the Disruptions Messaging Tool was secured by transport and mobility data specialist, Ito World. The tool will allow for planned and unplanned disruption messaging to be rapidly shared across social media and on-street displays, to keep public transport customers up to date with anything affecting their journeys.

“We are pleased to be able to award the contracts for both our Open Data Hub and Disruptions Messaging Tool after a competitive procurement process,” said TfN’s chief executive, Barry White. “This is a further investment in the North’s public transport network and enables us to deliver improvements to the way passengers find out about and travel across the region. Wherever you are going, journeys on public transport should be simple and easy to plan for. By providing quality, open and reliable data, these ‘smart’ innovations will help make getting from A to B an improved and more seamless experience.”

Johan Herrlin, CEO at Ito World, noted, “More and more we are looking to shared mobility services as economic and environmentally sound alternatives to private car travel. However, we need easily accessible, accurate data if we are going to successfully navigate public transport systems, whether in rural or urban locations. Access to open data sources are a crucial piece of the data puzzle.”

Tim Porter, CEO of Trapeze Group UK, commented, “The availability of accurate, consistent and reliable data is the foundation of any public transport service, and vital to deliver on our goal of increasing modal shift. This project will help deliver enhanced public transport services across the region.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.