Bus Open Data Service: are you ready for BODS?

The deadline for compliance with the timetable format for the Bus Open Data Service (BODS) in England is looming.

The national strategy makes it easy for customers to plan journeys and have greater visibility of timetables and fares, but what does that mean for operators and local transport authorities?

Aiden Proctor gives us a rundown on the intricacies of a BODS timetable file.

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What is BODS?

The Bus Open Data Service is a scheme led by the Department for Transport (DfT) that requires all bus operators in England to publish timetables, fares and live vehicle tracking in an open data format that can be read by other downstream users. The intention is to provide more data to transport users, improving accessibility but also allowing third party developers access to the data.

What is required?
In regards to timetables, operators are required to supply a TransXChange (TXC) file that is either uploaded and hosted on the DfT site or hosted elsewhere but linked to the DfT site. The DfT wrote a separate list of requirements for the data it wanted to be included in a TXC file for BODS. This is known as the PTI Profile. It is currently on version 1.1A.

Fares and live tracking data is supplied differently and not in the scope of Omnibus.

What is the difference between a file for BODS and a standard TXC file?
The PTI Profile sits within the TXC 2.4 schema – that means the BODS file is laid out and set up in the same way as a normal TXC file but some of the data fields that are optional within a standard TXC 2.4 file are mandatory in a BODS file. The PTI Profile also stipulates the way that some of the data entries must be configured – this may be different to how you would export it as a normal TXC 2.4 file.

So what does that all mean?
It means that producing a standard TXC 2.4 file will not produce a compliant BODS file. That is why Omnibus created a separate BODS Exporter within our TXC Exporter Module.

Why is it separate?
Our standard TXC Exporter is very versatile in the way it allows users to configure the data fields they export in a TXC file. BODS does not have this flexibility – it must contain certain data and in a certain format. Therefore, we created a separate export routine. The BODS Exporter offers no ability for a user to customise their output because the data format is very specific as detailed by the PTI Profile.

What is happening in the real world?
The DfT have set a deadline of 30th September for all timetable files submitted to BODS to be compliant with the PTI Profile 1.1A. This means that a standard TXC 2.4 file or an invalid BODS format file will no longer be accepted.

Our friendly team is fully versed on BODS requirements and can walk you through the whole process, and continue to support you as requirements evolve. Think of us as your partner and just know that we’ve got your back; all you need to do is get in touch and we’ll be happy to make this process as simple as possible for you.