Real-time tracking of Sydney buses makes its way into apps

Transport for NSW has given the green light to three apps to use its GPS tracking of buses to better inform passengers.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

After a vigorous process of determining which developers would best use government data, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has given three application developers the ability to use real-time GPS tracking data to inform passengers of where buses are located.

TfNSW previously held an "App Hot House" on November 3 and 4, in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) Digital Change team, to select developers that would make the best use of GPS tracking data.

"We want to work hand-in-hand with those that have skills and the capability in the commercial sector and in the technology sector to be able to develop apps that bring real-time information to customers," TfNSW Deputy Director General Tony Braxton-Smith said at the event.

The selection of developers have resulted in live tracking being available in TripView, TripGo, and Arrivo Sydney. According to PwC Management Consultant Rob Chan, five winners were selected by the judges, indicating that two more applications may soon be released.

In the next week or so, and pending approval from their respective market places, the current three apps will be updated to reflect the new data. Arrivo Sydney is already showing the new data in its Android application.

"With these apps, customers will be able to plan ahead, not just by looking at the timetable, but see where buses are on their route and how far away they are," NSW Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement.

At the moment, the new data is available for state transit services in the Sydney CBD, the eastern suburbs, the Inner West, southern suburbs, north-western suburbs, the Northern Beaches, and lower North Shore.

Together, the data covers some 8,200 stops, more than 1,900 buses, and almost 1,200 routes across the Sydney bus network.

This coverage is expected to be expanded later.

The live data comes from TfNSW's Public Transport Information Priority System program, which tracks buses as they travel along their routes.

Earlier this year, TfNSW passed a significant milestone by working with Google to integrate public transport information into Google Maps.

At the time, Berejiklian said that its next step would be to provide information in real time, and Google Australia Engineering Director Alan Noble hinted that its next step would be to add new types of information.

Google did not respond to ZDNet's request to comment on the matter.

TfNSW also announced today that the bus, train, and ferry timetable data that it had given to Google would now be released to developers so that they could create their own apps for public transport.

The data is presented in the General Transit Feed Specification format, a change from the TransXchange format that developers currently receive data in via the Transport Data Exchange.

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