Open data as key for sustainable transport: interview with French Ministry of Transport

For EU Member States, data-sharing and data standards are essential to provide well-running multimodal travel information services. In DATA4PT, UITP and ITxPT work together with nine different Member States. What is their exact role in the project, and what do they expect from DATA4PT? We sat down with Mélanie Veissier, Data Standardisation Project Manager at the French Ministry of Transport.

Can you tell us a bit more about your participation of the French Ministry to DATA4PT?

I work for the French Ministry of Transport in the Multimodality, Innovation, Digital Direction. My main activities are data standardisation for traveller information, MaaS interfaces and ticketing interoperability.

My role in DATAAPT is to make sure that all our French initiatives are well considered at EU level, but also to be informed and contribute to all EU initiatives on data exchange and standardisation.

We’re also involved in the European project NAPCORE and in the Working Groups set up by the EC for the “Multimodal Digital Mobility Service” act (to come), allowing us to have a broad overview on all these different initiatives.

DATA4PT aims to help Member States with the deployment of data standards, to advance information services and public transport. What is your expectation of participating in the project?

France provides a National Access Point or NAP, “”, for multimodal data. Several French “profiles”, derived from CEN standards have been created and are publicly available on the NAP : e.g the NeTEx profiles for public transport (for “stops”, “network”, static schedule).

Moreover, we’re currently working on other standards such as bike infrastructures profile or MaaS interfaces. We expect DATA4PT to include such existing standards in its roadmap, or, if necessary, to create new standards for all the different mobility services and other needs (e.g. booking, ticketing, payment).

It is essential to share our practices and our progress with other countries, to capitalise and develop new good ideas. For example, the creation of a NeTEx validation tool by DATA4PT is very useful for data providers of the NAP.

In terms of open data-sharing for public transport in France, what are the biggest challenges you see today and what is needed to overcome these?

The Loi d’Orientation des Mobilités article 25 (a law called ‘LOM’) enforces public and private transport mobility providers since December 2019 to make all their static and dynamic data available on the NAP. The main challenge is to offer travellers a complete view about all services that they could use when they plan a trip.

In the current fight against global warming context, promoting public transport and active modes (cycling, walking) is also a major challenge. Open data and MaaS applications are part of the solutions to efficiently combine several transport modes or mobility services, but also offer a better user experience.

In France, many transport datasets are now accessible and reusable: e.g. transport data of 238 (out of 330) public transport authorities, covering approximately 91.2% of the French population. Still, one of our biggest challenges is to continue promoting open data and explaining that it is key to a sustainable transport model.

Data quality is also a big challenge for us: To give correct information to users, we need to have reliable sources and standard-based data. For these reasons, France is developing several tools for data producers: validation tools (NeTEx, GBFS, GTFS), available on the NAP in open source, but also conversion tools from GTFS to NeTEx for example. The work before posting the data is essential. Data quality cannot be separated from data standardisation. European and national standards coexist but we still need to work on new ones for new mobility services and on APIs for MaaS interfaces.

The next step will be to promote such technical tools among public transport authorities, to include standards in tenders and, in the end, to use them in transport systems or applications.

The climate is rapidly changing, and we have to adapt our mobility vision with it. We’re facing a lot of challenges – it’s our duty to tackle them!

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