Fare’s Fair – Why we need open fares data for public transport

Being able to understand how much your journey is going to cost is essential for encouraging mobility by public transport in our modern age. Not knowing how much a journey is going to cost before you make it, hinders forward planning and creates a barrier to use. How many people have stepped on to a bus only to find that the journey was more expensive than they first thought? Or that the fare charged yesterday was different than the fare you got charged today?

To this end transport campaigners have been vocal in their efforts to get public transport agencies and operators of public bus services to release fares data, so that people can make intelligent choices about the way that they get around. Transport Hack organised by the fantastic people at ODILeeds is one such example of this happening. Open Data Manchester was itself involved with opening up the bus fares data for all of Greater Manchester in 2010, only for TfGM to discontinue.

Yesterday we learn’t that TfGM had knocked back an FOI request for Manchester Metrolink fares data, citing issues of Commercial Interest.

We think this is wrong on a number of points.

  • Manchester Metrolink is the only tram operator in Greater Manchester – not counting the fantastic tramway at Heaton Park, which we don’t think is a competitor
  • The data is already in the public domain – therefore it wouldn’t take that much effort to aggregate it or get a picture of the fares structure
  • It is in the public interest to get as many people to understand the cost of mobility in Greater Manchester
  • Closed systems hinder the development of seamless ticketing and multi-modal travel by putting opaque commercial interestsĀ in front of public service delivery

To this end Open Data Manchester set about compiling the fares data for the Metrolink network. It did’t take that long – about a day – and we used programmatic as well as manual methods. The data is in tabular Excel form as well as a parsed text document. It is provided as is and we can’t be liable for any mistakes or inconsistencies – although we have checked it as much as we can. The data is available under a Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 licence Please let us know if you find any errors or create something interesting.

The data can be found here

Minor edits – addition of a link and additional bullet point were made at 14.00, 20.10.17