Cities for Open Mobility: London – Open live transport data

London has pioneered simple, account based travel through Oyster, and stimulated innovation by providing live data feeds for the transport it provides. The open data approach has stimulated a great deal of third party innovation using Transport for London’s transport feeds.

This has enabled start-ups like CityMapper to create sophisticated route planners able to compare costs, times and active travel metrics with real time information. Some – like CityMapper have incorporated both TfL data and third party APIs (like Uber, Zipcar and Gett).

Whilst Uber is now including public transport information using TfL open data in its app, Citymapper has added its own transport provision (which have included a bus route and a shared taxi service) as an option within its app. In addition it’s partnered with Mastercard to incorporate more services into one (subscription based) payment system than are currently included on Oyster.

Whilst the provision of public transport in London is highly regulated with a single system providing buses, underground metro and local rail to travellers (competition is for franchises to provide the service rather than at the customer interface), this enables the innovation at the data and platform level.

There are questions about new services however, with TfL responsible for roads but not fully able to regulate private hire and ride hailing. Currently the data provision is one way – with apps and new mobility providers not providing insight to TfL.