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Smartphones could help get more people to travel by bus.

The Department for Transport has launched a consultation that could lead to operators sharing live data.

It means passengers would be able to see real time information about bus routes, timetables and fares.

It’s a move that could shake-up bus travel and make it a more attractive transport option. It will also look at making companies provide audio and visual information on buses.

There is strong supporting evidence that live data, along with better, cleaner vehicles, can make bus travel more attractive.

Reading Buses has reported a 48% increase in passenger numbers since it began sharing open data and promotes itself as one of the country’s most innovative bus operators.

Transport for London has also made progress with Open Data, having made its information available to app developers.

Buses can be tracked in a live operational environment. Apps such as London Buschecker and Citymapper allow riders to plan their journeys with more accuracy and less waiting at bus stops.

The Buschecker app has since expanded, with a UK-wide option, which integrates with other operators and provides times and routes from all 300,000 of the nation’s bus stops, along with a stop alert feature that makes your smartphone vibrate as you approach your stop.

Cambridge City Council shares its real-time data with Google Transit, fed directly from the Smart Cambridge intelligent City Platform, a system developed by Cambridge University.

It allows commuters to obtain real-time updates as buses are affected by traffic and other delays. Almost all buses in the region have GPS sensors installed which gives their position. This data is then fed into the platform and processed to give an accurate prediction of arrival time.

The project is a collaboration between Google Maps and transit data specialist Ito World, which is based in the city.

Arriva is experimenting with another form of app-based technology. Its new ArrivaClick service, which it has launched in Liverpool, allows passengers to order their bus via a phone-based app.

Passengers who use the on-demand ArrivaClick service determine the route themselves by entering their chosen pick-up point and destination. The technology matches people travelling in the same direction to the right vehicle, allowing them to travel together.