Passenger Rail, Research & Development, Technology and IT

Transport releases Opal data

Transport for NSW has made Opal data available for the public on its Open Data website, providing a detailed look into the ways passengers use the state’s rail and public transport network.

“Opal data has long been one of our most requested and most useful datasets,” Tony Braxton-Smith from Transport for NSW said.

“Now it’s available, it means researchers and developers can access and use the data like never before to innovate and gain insights for a huge variety of benefits for customers and organisations.”

Braxton-Smith said that one of the major benefits of the data release is that businesses and governments can now plan and organise on the basis of the empirical statistical evidence that provides, for instance, at what times and how often stations and trains are being used by the public.

“Let’s say someone plans to open a business near a train station and wants to establish the best times to be ready to serve customers from this source. What was once an anecdotal, trial-and-error process can now be backed up by hard data, which could help them succeed in their business,” he said.

The Opal dataset was developed in partnership with the research network Data61, which is part of the CSIRO, and with the University of Technology Sydney and the Data Analytics Centre.

Braxton-Smith made clear that while the open data provides detailed statistics of public transport use, it will not make public any personal data.

“[The data] been de-identified and processed in a way that protects the privacy of individual customers and has multiple levels of security to prevent misuse,” he said.

A small analysis of the data made by Mathew Hounsell, a senior researcher at UTS, indicates that that there is greater decrease in light rail usage on weekends compared with trains and buses, and, also, that there appears to be little increase in its use even when trains are not running.

Those interested can view the datasets on the Transport for NSW Open Data website.