June 2019

A message from Transport for the North's Chief Executive
Earlier this year, Transport for the North (TfN) launched our Strategic Transport Plan (STP) and Investment Programme. These momentous documents set out the North of England’s plan to transform our region’s economy and quality of life, through strategic investment in its transport network. It’s a bold plan and looks at the big picture – with our proposed roadmap outlining how we would spend up to £70 billion by 2050, contributing towards an additional £100 billion in economic growth.

As TfN’s Chief Executive, I am often asked what this plan does for us here in 2019; what are we doing to benefit public transport passengers now?

The Integrated and Smart Travel (IST) programme is one of the early steps in the STP. It aims to transform the passenger experience for the millions of us who are using the existing transport network day in, day out. And it is already delivering.

Phase One of IST, working with rail operators, has made smartcards available for rail season ticket holders across the North – and we are seeing incredible levels of passenger take-up. Phase Two’s smart tools are also now in development, ready to revolutionise the travel information and data available to customers across all modes of transport.

After an intense few months of work, our plans for a pan-Northern account-based travel system providing contactless payments are in procurement. Making public transport easier to use is a fundamental part of TfN’s vision for the North. Whether travelling around your home town - or taking longer trip across the region for work and leisure - making it easier to travel with  multiple operators, on different modes of public transport will improve connectivity, help drive economic growth and make the North an even better place to live.

I would like to offer a personal thank you to the IST team and all its partners and stakeholders who continue to work hard to deliver a better deal for our region’s public transport passengers.

- Barry White, Transport for the North Chief Executive 
Phase One - smartcards now being used on rail across the North
Since ‘Smart on Rail’ launched for ticket-office customers at the end of last year, smartcards have rapidly become the new norm for rail season tickets holders across the North.

Working in partnership with Northern, TransPennine Express and Merseyrail, the project team have overseen the rollout of smartcards on a route-by-route basis. We are now pleased to announce that, across our region, 60% of eligible season tickets are issued onto a smartcard.

In even more fantastic news, Northern have reached the major milestone of issuing over one million journeys onto their smartcards and are the number one issuer of smart season tickets nationally!

In the coming months, TfN will be continuing to work with the train companies to expand the offer and make smart tickets available at ticket vending machines and online. We're also preparing for a major marketing campaign to help convert as many customers as possible to smart.

Phase Three - an updated plan for account-based travel

Developing the technical and commercial proposition summary for Phase Three's account-based travel system has been a major focus of recent activity for the team. This defines the work already done to design the technical requirements for TfN’s preferred account-based back office for travel (ABBOT) solution. This has allowed the system to move into procurement.

In parallel, there has been commercial activity engaging with operators and testing their commitment to the scheme, as the project moves towards negotiation with suppliers for the provision of ABBOT. IST is now in the process of setting up an Integrated Commercial Working Group (ICWG), compromising engaged 'early-adopter' operators who will help develop the negotiation strategy. It is planned for the ICWG to then develop into a Special Purpose Vehicle which will own and operate ABBOT.
Phase Two 'smart tools' - contracts signed and in development
With the signing of supplier contracts, Phase Two has moved towards delivery of the Open Data Hub and Disruptions Messaging Tool. Together, these ‘smart tools’ will help transform the provision of journey information for customers travelling on the North’s bus and tram network.

Trapeze Group UK, a global mobility technology solution provider, have been selected to provide the Open Data Hub. Transport and mobility data specialist, Ito World, have been awarded the contract for the Disruptions Messaging Tool. 

Design and testing workshops are now underway with the suppliers and TfN's LTA partners, who are the intended users of the tools. The Open Data Hub is due to go live with the disruptions data in March 2020. This open source information will then be available for data-driven businesses and providers of journey apps, such as Google and Moovit, to deliver to the public.
Fares Data Build Tool update
The Department for Transport (DfT) have now published their response to the Bus Services Act 2017: bus open data consultation. This outlines the approach to implementing the upcoming legislation which will require operators and local authorities (LTAs) to openly publish bus journey information, including fares data, via the Bus Open Data Digital Service (BODDS).

To help operators and LTAs in the North comply with this, IST is working in partnership with the Bus Open Data programme and Traveline to develop a Fares Data Build Tool. The proposed solution will collate bus fares and rules data and export it into the emerging UK NeTEx format - the DfT’s proposed technical standard for exchanging bus fares information. The tool will be delivered first in the North and have the potential to be scaled nationally.
'The fares data build tool is an essential part of the journey towards opening up fares data and ensuring passengers can find best value tickets at their fingertips. We're looking forward to supporting TfN in the development of this tool, which is a workstream of the DfT Bus Open Data Programme.' - Meera Nayyar, Department for Transport, Passenger Experience Team Leader (Buses and Taxis)
Procurement for the tool is in the final stages of bid evaluation. IST is also currently engaging with operators and LTAs who may want to help with the design and testing of the tool. Any stakeholders interested in participating in the process - or finding out more about how the tool could help them - are invited to get in touch.
Interacting with customers - Ipsos MORI panel now live
It’s important for TfN to understand how passengers interact with and what they think about public transport in the North.

As part of the Customer Insight programme, IST are now working with market research specialist Ipsos MORI to investigate and monitor passengers’ views on smart travel. This well help track that IST is delivering the customer benefits promised in the phase business cases, as well as help shape future plans and priorities for transport improvements.

This work has kicked off with a baseline survey which sought the opinions of 2000 regular public transport users across the North. Following this, Ipsos launched a live, web-based, customer panel.  The panel has a two-year activity plan, over which time IST will be able to interact with customers at regular intervals and gather their insight on a variety of smart topics.  

The results of the baseline customer survey and first round of panel activity are currently under review and will be published soon.
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