BusTimes.org – bus timetables, route maps and vehicle location in the West Midlands

The BusTimes.org website has been running for a number of years now, and has become famous for its use of various data feeds provided by local transport authorities to provide bus route maps and timetables.

In 2020, it was announced by the Department For Transport (DfT) that they would be introducing the “Bus Open Data Service” (BODS) so that bus timetable, fares and vehicle locations could be provided in an open data format, which can be utilised by app and website developers.

The Department for Transport (DfT) wants to make it easier to travel by bus wherever you are in England.

We’re making details of bus services available as open data, as required by the Public Service Vehicle Open Data England Regulations. The scope of the open data encompasses:

timetable data
fares data
vehicle location (real-time) data
historic performance (punctuality) data.

This will enable passengers to:

plan their journeys with confidence
spend less time waiting
find the best value tickets

Why are we doing this?

Buses have significant social, economic, and environmental benefits. But bus usage has been falling for several years, especially outside London. According to the Bus Passenger Survey (carried out by Transport Focus) one important reason for this is the lack of journey planning information.

DfT wants to see more people taking the bus, and wants those who do take it to have the best possible experience. We believe that knowing when the bus will arrive will reduce passenger frustration, and save passengers time.

Traveline currently provides an excellent service around some elements of bus data, but BODS will soon add extra dimensions – fares, tickets, and vehicle location.


What does this mean for bus users in the West Midlands?

Simply put, the introduction of ‘open data’ standards means that it is much easier for developers to build apps to provide bus users with timetable information and vehicle location tracking.

Bus operators such as Diamond Buses already have this functionality on their own app and website, and seasoned readers may well remember NX Buses own app (now discontinued) which was able to show the location of buses on particular routes.

BusTimes.org showing whereabouts of buses on the 4 route (Birmingham to Solihull) currently being diverted around Sparkbrook

Timetable information in open data format also makes it easier for website developers to publish timetables and for them to be updated when schedules change, rather than the current method of producing new PDF files as NX West Midlands and Coventry do.

Timetables presented in a clean easy to read table format with selectable date

The site also plots out routes on a map, useful for seeing which way any particular route goes if you are not familiar with it.

The map can also be used to find bus stops local to you, and shows departure information as well as links to the bus services that call there.

Future enhancements will include passenger capacity, ie showing roughly how many seats are available or if the bus is full.

Of course, BusTimes provides timetable information for bus services all across the UK, not just the West Midlands!

What does this mean for bus enthusiasts?

For those ‘enthusiasts’ whose interest in buses extends beyond simply catching them to get from one place to another, BusTimes allows people to see what route(s) any particular vehicle is operating on; perhaps you need to photograph a particular bus to complete your collection, or you need to ‘tick off’ a vehicle you haven’t travelled on yet.

Whatever floats your boat really, BusTimes is a useful resource now.

My conclusions

BusTimes.org is a very useful site for bus passengers, as it provides a wealth of information with regards to timetables and next departure details for individual bus stops.

While the vehicle location and details information is also very welcome, it must be noted that this is currently not ‘real-time’ information, and I believe this is simply due to the frequency of how the data feeds are updated, and is not a limitation of the website itself.

Still, I feel BusTimes is a very useful alternative to the West Midlands Network website for finding timetable and route information.

Click here to visit BusTimes.org website

Discuss this website in our Community Forum here


About WMBU

Stu is the founder of this West Midlands Bus Users website.
He is not a bus enthusiast, but as a regular passenger takes an interest in public transport related matters, having relied on buses to get around for over twenty-five years now.

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