Tom Forth Profile picture
Aug 8, 2018 11 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
A short thread from me about #opendata and transport.
1/ Ask Google Maps for public transport directions in Lille, and it'll probably tell you to walk. It might offer some out-of-date timetables for local trains. But it doesn't know about the trams, the metro, or local buses.
2/ Pop over to Rennes (consistently France's best city at #opendata) and you'll get metro and bus and train times and usually the (very simple) fare.
3/ Jump back to Lille and now use Here maps, and you'll get the full set of travel options.
4/ Back to Rennes again, you'll also get most of the stuff -- but not the trains this time.
5/ How does this compare to Great Britain? Not well. Great Britain has fantastic national data infrastructure for transport. Ask Google Maps for almost any journey (honestly, >99.9% coverage) and it'll give you accurate information.
6/ This national #opendata infrastructure is something that UK national bodies are rightly pretty proud of. Lots of origins of it; a generally open and collaborative culture, a very strong central government, and the investment required to make national privatisation work.
7/ But, as I've been saying for about 5 years now, there are some pretty big downsides too. When a big financial services consultancy releases a big report with a big number explaining how #opendata is good for the economy they don't even see the downsides. Few Britons do.
8/ Excellent transport #opendata infrastructure in Great Britain was much easier to achieve because almost everything is national. There is much less room for local innovation, investment, and accountability. If your bus or trains services are bad, you write to your MP. Madness.
9/ The UK is now about where I expected it would be. We got ahead on #opendata by bringing everything into the centre and moving faster from there. But now we're at the limit of that approach, and other countries that took a less centralised approach will overtake us.
10/ I expect that a lot of Brits will call this an "early adopters curse" or something. It makes us feel better. But that's not really what happened. We took this undemocratic and disconnected shortcut right at the start, and now we have to pay that debt back.
11/ ps. Google Maps can't give you a public transport suggestion in Toulouse, because not as good #opendata, but in contrast to all of the UK's mid-size cities -- public transport has gone up, is going up, and is at record highs.…

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More from @thomasforth

Aug 2, 2018
It is untrue for The Secretary of State for Transport to claim that the North-South divide in transport funding is a myth. It undermines public trust in UK government and the UK civil service. Shameful, even if he's found a way to mislead with the data without lying. Shameful.
Sadly it also reduces the impact of any investment the North does get. Because when it's delivered by a government that lies, no-one believes it'll happen until it happens, and people wait to invest instead of investing in anticipation. There is no more polite way to say it.
Here are four pieces I've written on how this kind of thing leads to people rightly rejecting expertise.………
Read 10 tweets
May 8, 2018
Tea is in the oven. While it cooks, I shall read the Intergenerational Commission's report. But because I am endless, I will be completing this table first.
Right, I can get started. Did a quick map.
Reading the summary -- the decline in job-to-job moves among younger generations that really stands out to me. This feels like a deep and important change. I look forward to finding out why the authors think it's happened.
Read 32 tweets
Sep 12, 2017
I'm about to go to the NEC. I have Birmingham's transport smart card. It is the best possible system within UK law. It is going to be hard.
I wrote here exactly how hard it is. I have to choose some mix of 7 "public" transport companies to go a few miles.
The journey begins. I have my swift card. This is the best system possible for a big city in the UK. TfWM are good.
Read 14 tweets

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