Bus Route Registration

In the UK bus routes are required to be registered under the Transport Act 1985. See Local Service Registration

The registration process requires that bus operators send a copy of the registration whether New, Variation or Cancellation, to the transport authority or authorities that the bus route is to pass through.

Local transport authorities and other bus operators can find out about which routes have been registered by using VOSA's Bus Registration Search or the on-line Notices and Proceedings of the Traffic Commissioner.

Bus services should be registered with a minimum of 56 days notice. Registrations may be granted at "short notice", using Form PSV350A. The support of the local authority is usually required quoting one of the following reasons:

Different rules may apply in Scotland.

Getting data into Electronic form

Currently most data reaches the transport authority as a paper copy of the bus registration that has been submitted to the Traffic Commissioner. Local authorities enter the timetable into one of a number of electronic systems which are currently in use, including: (please notify any other products)

Data Standards

The registration process requires that bus operators give at least 56 days notice of a registration change. Preferably they will adhere to the locally agreed change dates. The transport authority should aim to have all timetables processed and available in the public facing journey planners at least 14 days before the changes take effect. See information about measuring these data standards. There are certain circumstances where registrations may be submitted at short notice.

Electronic Bus Registration

For a long time it has been considered desirable to get information in electronic form directly from bus operators' electronic scheduling systems. Since it was also an objective of VOSA to be able to receive bus registrations in electronic form there has been collaboration in the TransXchange project.

DfT and VOSA have commenced trials which export TransXchange records from the electronic scheduling systems of some major bus operators to the Traffic Commissioner and almost simultaneously will send an email to the relevant transport authorities. Each Local authories is requested to set up an email address in the form ebsr@(local authority)

It was originally proposed that there would be a Self Service system available on the web that bus operators and local authorities would have been able to use to generate TransXchange records suitable for registration. Transport authorities may have been able to supply TransXchange records to their contractors to help them to submit electronically. There is currently a consultation about the best way forward to give smaller operators access to the electronic registration system. DfT document and invitation (PDF file 1.09Mb)

TransXchange records will not include a map but a map to accompany the registration will be produced by VOSA from the bus stops served. It will be desirable that all bus stops are listed but there will be no compulsion and times will only be required to be provided at the timing points.

The email that the transport authority receives will indicate that there is a bus registration that they can download. When they download it they will be able to import it into their electronic timetable data system, provided it has been upgraded to do this.

The current registration process allows registrations of three types. If it is a NEW registration then the journeys included in it will have a start date. The data can be added to the current database. If it is a CANCELLATION or VARIATION the transport authority will need to find the equivalent journeys in the current database and apply end dates to them. Software and consistent referencing of the registrations may help the process of matching the new journeys to the old and may help limit the redating to only those journeys which have changed, rather than redate all of them. It is a recognised weakness of the registration system that a cancellation or variation does not explicitly state which journeys are terminating.

There is still some uncertainty about how much improvement to the data will still need to be done by Transport Authorities if a registration has been submitted electronically. If it does not have times at every stop then the intermediate stop times will need to be interpollated. If there is a bus stop missing it is not clear whether the Traffic Commissioner will reject the registration or, if not, how the Transport Authority will go about getting the registration corrected. If too much corrective work is needed then the Transport Authority may find that it is more efficient to hand edit the changes into the previous electronic record rather than throw it away and replace it with the new electronic registration. These are some of the issues that are being discussed and need to be addressed in an implementation plan.

The experience of Cambridgeshire in receiving electronic bus registrations.

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© Traveline 2013, Last updated: 30 July 2013