17,000 UK public transport routes are now included in Google Maps’ Transit option thanks to a new partnership with data firm ITO World

Technology giant Google has rolled out significant improvements to its Google Transit function in its mapping service to include details about bus, coach, rail and ferry services across the UK.

It means that Google Maps users, through its iPhone and Android apps as well as its traditional desktop site, can now check the best time and route for millions of departures for trains, tubes, trams, buses and ferries every day. In total, 17,000 different routes across the UK are featured.

“My own journey with Google Maps started in a pub near Chester four years ago when I wanted to demonstrate the product I’d be working on to a friend: public transport in maps,” said David Tattersall, Google’s product manager for public transport. “I searched for directions to the town centre and even though the number 1 bus from Wrexham to Chester ran right past the pub, it wasn’t even listed as an option. We’ve come a long way since then.”

The improvements have been powered by a new partnership between Google and data specialists ITO World using its new data management platform, Transport DMP.

Peter Miller, the chief executive of Ipswich-based ITO World, explained: “The platform combines years of transport data knowledge and expertise with cutting-edge technological ‘know how’, allowing us to collate, aggregate and enrich data from various open sources before converting and serving it to our clients in the format they require.”

Transport DMP uses a complex set of automated algorithms to enhance and enrich open data taken from sources that include The National Public Transport Access Node database (NaPTAN), Traveline Public Transport Schedule dataset (TNDS), Transport for London and Network Rail. ITO World is committed to extending the scope of Transport DMP beyond the mainland UK as and when the relevant data becomes available. This would see Northern Ireland included in the future.

The company’s data quality tools are already used by transport data owners, including transport operators and transport authorities, to highlight errors and improve the quality of their data. In addition, ITO World also provides publicity and communication services and is developing data visualisation and insight tools to make complex data sets easier to understand and simpler to act on.

“A voracious appetite is emerging in the transport sector for data, data-driven insight and real-time business intelligence,” added Miller. “The right data can tell us everything we need to know to make better-informed decisions, but sometimes a visual representation is so much more effective in getting the message across. The feedback we’ve had is that these tools really help to pinpoint the insights they need to improve services.”

 

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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