Decision details

Live departures – live tracking of vehicles on a map

Decision Maker: Executive Director of Transport

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


Through the Travel South Yorkshire Website, SYMCA provide live departures information to customers for bus, tram and train. This functionality is part of the same system that also delivers the Journey planning solution, providing travel planning information in one place.

In January 2023 as part of wider Enhanced Partnership requirements, a request came from the Mayor to produce a real-time app, that would also show the location of the buses on a map for the 1st anniversary of him being in post. This is planned to go live 5th June 2023. As part of planned activity, a project was already underway to improve the look and functionality of the Live Departures tool on the website. With this ongoing work and the little time that was available for development, it was recommended that this additional request was built into the existing mobile responsive website and developed as part of the progressing project. Further development would then be done to provide all this within an app by March 2024, in line with the tram retail requirements.

Placr Ltd are our current data provider and an additional feed of data is needed to provide the vehicle location on a map; this isn’t available as part of our standard dataset ‘package’. This feed of data provides the location for all current ‘real-time enabled’ vehicles in and around South Yorkshire currently totally over 3,000 vehicles and will grow as the remaining operators start to track location.

Using the existing data provider Placr Ltd, an option is available within the contracts ‘basket of goods’ for monthly subscription service, however this is only to a maximum of £500 and therefore the contract variation will be required to include the new subscription of £2,000 per month.

It is also envisaged that this additional functionality will attract an increase in users to the TSY live departures and journey planning tool. The data contract is charged on usage and therefore increased usage will in turn increase the costs to this contract for the remaining 2 years. Figures are as follows:

Data Planned Cost Additional Cost Total Cost
Buses on a map n/a £48,000 £48,000
Journey Plan requests £11,600 £11,600 £23,200
Live departures £6,000 £18,000 £24,000
Timetables £11,400(fixed cost) n/a £11,400
Disruptions £4,000 (fixed cost) n/a £4,000
Totals £33,000 £77,600 £110,600

Forecasting usage take up is difficult at this stage, current costs are from an average usage of 1,400,000 hits on live departure data per month. This is from circa 6,000 users on our site, showing that customers have on average checked or ‘refreshed’ the page around 8 times per day. The figures reflect these numbers more than trebling, in anticipation of users staying on the page longer (each 30 second refresh is another data hit) to view and track the vehicles movement. The figure has been rounded up to £80,000 to provide some flexibility as usage realistically is unknown until launch.

The additional spend brings the total contract value to £198k.


That the Public Transport Team approve the contract variation to include the required Month Subscription service for the remaining term of the contract (expires March 2025) as specified in section 3.4.

That the Public Transport Team approve the additional contract value spend of £80,000 as specified in section 3.5.

Alternative options considered:

Sourcing the data from Placr Ltd, the current data provider for the live departures and journey planning tools. The dataset is straightforward to access, with complete data with additional data collation to provide a rich set of data. This option is recommended.

Sourcing the data from VIX Technologies (The Yorkshire Real-Time System provider) was considered, however, the dataset isn’t as complete or as ‘rich’ as that provided by Placr Ltd and required a more complex set of queries to access the data. The option is not viable because of the additional complexities and lead in times involved.

Publication date: 23/05/2023

Date of decision: 23/05/2023

Accompanying Documents: