Centralised transport look-up API

In previous posts we have mentioned the need for a centralised look-up service for all transport / mobility providers. This is needed (especially in the early stages of the Open Transport standard) to enforce data consistency between those who have adopted it.

To achieve this, the Open Transport team have agreed that we need to create a further API. This will be a centralised API that can be used as a directory service for all participating operators involved.

This ‘Operator Info’ service will actually have two slightly different functions:

  1. Provide details about each registered operator, primarily the URL of their customer account Open Transport API.(Without this, there would be no record of where each interoperable account API can be found.)
  2. A list of the specific transport mode(s) that each operator is providing. This should be used to validate the data within account API calls, to ensure consistency when referring to the mode of transport – e.g. rail and not Train, TRAIN, RAIL, Railway, etc.
    Note: This API can obviously be extended in the future to include other API data validation, as required.

Article about Open Transport on Digit website

There is a great post about the Open Transport initiative from Moya of Ideal Interface on the Digit website this week.

The article leads with the line:
Open Transport is creating a standard way that transport customers can securely integrate their accounts together and share some transport data. “

It answers some very useful questions that Open Transit has been asked recently, including:

  • So what would an Open Standard do for the transport sector?
  • Why does the Transport & Mobility sector need an Open Standard?
  • So what’s next for the Open Transport initiative?

Open Transport Press Release October 2019 (full version)

Open Transport Initiative launches New Standard for Transport and Mobility Interoperability

“Open Transport aims to do for the transport sector what Open Banking has done for the Financial Services sector.”

Today, International Standards Day (14th October) sees the launch of a new standard in the transport and mobility sector. The publication of a draft Open Standard for Transport Account Interoperability by the Open Transport initiative, a team of transport and technology specialists who saw the need for transport accounts to work together.

Since early 2018 the Financial Services market across Europe has been adopting Open Banking. An approach that allows secure interoperability of personal accounts between banks, which puts the customer more in control of their finances. This new transport account standard has been created to achieve for Transport what Open Banking has achieved for Financial Services. It facilitates peer-to-peer transport account data sharing and interoperability, allowing the customer to view all their transportation, mobility and associated data in one place. No searching across various apps and websites to join-up journey, ticket and discount data. This collaborative account and data standardisation will produce the best experience for the travelling customer.

This initiative was started earlier in 2019 by Ideal Interface, a strategic and digital consultancy based in Glasgow Scotland. It has since been steadily gathering interest by mobility industry vendors, public transport authorities and operators around the UK and Europe, plus has had wider input from rail, ferry, subway, bus, parking, & taxi organisations, as well as academia. It is now ready for review and input by all transportation practitioners and observers.
“This is the right time to put the draft standard out to review. For us, this is the next step in getting the Open Transport accepted as a ratified standard. This is an enabler for true Mobility-As-A-Service (MaaS) schemes.”
Hayden Sutherland, Ideal Interface

If you are interested in reading more or taking part in the review, contact the Open Standard Initiative https://opentransport.co.uk

The disruption of transport

Every industry is seemingly being disrupted right now. It seems as if there is almost an inevitability about it, regardless of whether this disruption is commercially viable or not.

And disruptive start-ups have to start somewhere, typically by taking revenue or customers away from more established brands. Meaning that market fragmentation is an almost inevitable consequence:

  • Challenger banks entered the financial services market to take business from the High Street banks
  • Tesla look custom away from traditional car manufacturers by providing innovation, distance, style and performance from electric cars

And transportation disruption is now upon us. Uber is worth around $100Bn (yes Billions!) and eScooter companies like Bird and Lime are scooping up users and propelling them along urban tarmac near you. Meaning that there are more & more online accounts being created for each & every mobility service.

What Open Transport is therefore trying to do is create a way to put the customer back in control of their transport data.

By allowing them to use the online account of their choice and to securely link it to their other transport accounts. In this way they can have a central view of all their tickets, journeys and travel discounts, without having to log into each account separately.

So even if the transport market becomes increasingly fragmented, the data can all be integrated in the account(s) that the user wants.

Updating the Open Transport roadmap

In an earlier post, we showed our roadmap of intended functionality, broken into 3 phases. Since then we have discussed the possibility of adding a third data entity to the first phase: concessions (in addition to tickets and journeys).

Concessions, also called travelcards/railcards or entitlements provide a discount across one or mode modes of transport – mainly public transit.

This additional entity was felt to to be sufficiently important to add to the initial release of the specification as we believe that not having it would be a further barrier to the adoption of account interoperability… especially in a younger demographic, who tend to be early adopters of technology.