Share-PSI 2.0 logo

Best Practice: Open Up Public Transport Data

Draft: 6 October 2015

This version
Latest version

This is one of a set of Best Practices developed by the Share-PSI 2.0 Thematic Network.

Creative Commons Licence Share-PSI Best Practice: Open Up Public Transport Data by Share-PSI 2.0 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Local transport companies generate information about the services they provide –i.e. timetables, service disruptions, stops, accessibility, even rich real-time data. Although the transport service may be run by a private company, that information is a relevant asset to be spread as Open Data. All parts will benefit: citizens will have a better user experience; the municipality will promote the use of collective transport; and the company will provide a better service without additional costs.

Management Summary


Transport companies manage information about the public service they provide. Although this information is not always exposed, most of it is non-sensitive and it may be released openly. This enables its reuse by third parties and by the government itself. The challenge is that many companies are reluctant: even when requested directly by the municipality, companies often refuse to do it.

Cities tend to foster the use of collective public transport in order to reduce traffic and the subsequent pollution and disturbance for citizens. Public transport will only be widely used if the service is effective and efficient, and users have a positive user experience. With enough information, citizens should have the opportunity to plan the journey in advance, being aware of potential disruptions of the service, and understand the options they may have.

This is not always possible because of the lack of the information that is just for consumption of the company running the service.


Municipalities should make an effort to open the information on public transport in machine-readable and easy to use formats – mainly addressed to developers who will be able to create new services on top of the information. If the local government does not have either access to, or control of, the information they should require by all possible means (even issuing a local mandate) that information be made available to the organization in charge of running the service.

This will benefit many stakeholders:

  • municipalities following 'Smart City' strategies are interested in reducing the traffic in the city, enhancing the public transport and encouraging the use of it;
  • current users of the public transport will experience a better service; newcomers will be attracted only if they see a real value in the service;
  • development companies that will be able to produce new products and services for the travellers.

Best Practice Identification

Why is this a Best Practice? What’s the impact of the Best Practice

Public transport information exists, at least, within the transport company. The information on the service usually has no legal restrictions so publication is a matter of political/strategic interests. Forcing this openness, all the parties will experience benefits.

Why is there a need for this Best Practice?

Although opening up public transport is one of the priorities for local governments, not always is possible. These local governments should do their best to achieve this openness.

What do you need for this Best Practice?

  • Political commitment in the municipality, and
  • Actions to raise the awareness among stakeholders.

Applicability by other Member States

These measures are applicable directly in all the Member States' municipalities.

Contact Info

Martin Alvarez-Espinar (CTIC).

$Id: Overview.html,v 1.4 2016/08/20 07:00:22 phila Exp $