Consumer Data Research Centre

Inclusive and healthy mobility: Understanding Trends in Concessionary Travel in the West Midlands

Welcome to the webpage of the ‘Inclusive and healthy mobility’ project. On this page, you will find information and all outputs generated from our research.

Project background

Our research project ‘Inclusive and healthy mobility: Understanding Trends in Concessionary Travel in the West Midlands’ is a demonstrator project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under its Big Data Network Phase 3 programme. The purpose of this programme is to support research demonstrating the utility of new and emerging forms of data for policy. Our project partner is Transport for West Midlands (TfWM).

The project processes millions of boardings recorded on travel smartcards in the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and link them to GPS-traces of vehicles, asset registers and timetables. All datasets are anonymised.

Using these data sources, the project has three main components:

(1) Collecting evidence to understand the current, sharp decline in bus patronage by passengers travelling under the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) in the WMCA,

(2) Producing a data linkage framework that a) allows customised, spatial and temporal research on public transport patronage over several years and b) is transferable to any system operating under the Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation (ITSO) specification,

(3) Generate publicly accessible data and visualisations, part of which is an interactive travel dashboard, supported by the UCL Bartlett Innovation Fund.

The content of this page is structured according to these components.


(1) Understanding trends in concessionary travel

We analysed boarding patterns of nearly 400,000 anonymised passenger accounts registered under the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) over the period November 2010 to August 2016. You can access the results of our analysis here.

» Summary of Key Findings

» Supporting analysis of ENCTS eligible population in the WMCA


(2) Data linkage framework for ITSO fare collection systems

We developed a proof of concept to link smartcard transaction collected under ITSO specification to Automated Vehicle Locations (AVL), asset registers and timetables. The linkage permits inference of spatial and temporal journey characteristics, such as location of boarding and alighting, journey distance, duration and interchanges. In addition, we processed time tables to develop bespoke indicators of accessibility by bus at the level of Census Output Areas. Step-by-step guides to reproduce these solutions are provided here.

» Linking ITSO Transit Data 

» Estimating accessibility using OpenTripPlanner


(3) Data downloads, interactive maps and dashboard

We provide a range of outputs that can be used to explore senior residents’ bus and tram travel in the West Midlands Combined Authority.

The Interactive dashboard of concessionary travel in the WMCA. This work was supported by the UCL Bartlett Innovation Fund.

» Dashboard as website

» Dashboard for download on GitHub (runs faster but requires manual setup; setup instructions provided)


Data and interactive maps. All data are prepared at the geographical level of Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOA) as defined for the 2011 Census for England & Wales, and cover the study period 2010-2016, unless specified otherwise.

» Types of ENCTS passengers
Data / Map

» ENTCS eligible residents
Data / Map

» Travel time by bus to services and other points of interest
Data / Map

» Number of ENCTS boardings per month
Data / Map

» Monthly origin-destination flows of ENCTS passengers (2014-2016) – N.B. This data is presented using Middle Layer Super Output Areas (MSOA).
Data / Map


Research team and contact


Jens Kandt (PI), University College London,

Paul Longley (Co-I), University College London,

Chris Lane (Co-I), Transport for West Midlands,

Research Team

Alistair Leak (Research Associate), University College London,

Ffion Carney (Research Assistant), University College London,

Alfred Long (Research Assistant), University College London,

Special thanks to the team at TfWM for their input, feedback and support!

Daniel Pass, Phillip Evans, Robert Walker, Anne Schweickert