What is the reason for creating this mapping
This tool has been created to primarily assist employees and contractors at TfGM and our bus operator and AGMA partners to, amongst other things, quickly understand the detail of the local public transport network in any area of Greater Manchester (GM), plan services, understand the accessibility of sites planned for development, co-ordinate activity around temporary traffic diversions and manage the impacts of road works and severe weather on bus services.
Who is allowed to use this mapping tool?
The tool is available on a public website and, as such, is accessible to anyone. However, it should not be promoted for direct use by the general public for obtaining passenger information, primarily because it has not been built with such users in mind.
What does the tool do?
The tool displays four types of information:
• Bus service routes and bus stations and stops
• Local Link Areas and associated destinations
• Rail and Metrolink lines and stations
• Population data with socio-demographic classifications (Acorn), journey times to key centres (from Accession) and Greater Manchester Accessibility Levels (GMAL) for unit postcodes and the cells of a 100m square grid covering GM
What is GMAL?
GMAL is a measure of the accessibility of a location by all types of public transport. It is a measure that takes into account both the proximity of the bus stops, tram halts and train stations and the frequency of services using the stops/halts/stations. In addition, 2.5 is added to the score if the location lies within a Local Link Area. It shows how public transport accessibility varies across Greater Manchester. As you might expect it is often highest (most accessible) in town centres where there are many bus services, often with a rail station nearby, and lowest (least accessible) in rural areas which are likely to be served by lower frequency bus services. Eight levels are recognised in the colour coding employed by the tool:
To learn more about how GMAL is calculated click here.
Can you provide me more detail on the postcode and 100m grid information?
Four types of data are associated with unit postcodes and grid cells:
1. Socio-demographic data:
Total population broken down by:
• Wealthy achievers
• Comfortably off
• Urban prosperity
• Moderate means
• Hard pressed
This information is taken from the Acorn dataset. For information on Acorn
2. Public transport journey times in minutes to a set of key destinations:
• Manchester Airport
• Manchester Market Street
• Manchester Oxford Road
• Manchester Spinningfields
• Trafford Centre
This information is taken from runs of TfGM’s Accession Model. For information on Accession
3. GMAL scores for:
• Local Link (a postcode or grid cell in a Local Link Area has a score of 2.5)
• The sum of the above scores
4. Nearby Services contributing to the GMAL score for each postcode and grid cell:
• Bus stops, services and service scores contributing to the GMAL bus score
• Metrolink stations and service scores contributing to the GMAL Metrolink score
• Rail stations and service scores contributing to the GMAL rail score
What can I do with GMAL?
With GMAL it is easy for service planners, and others concerned with social exclusion, to identify areas where accessibility by public transport is poor. A priori, these are areas of concern if they are associated with relatively large numbers of people with low incomes. You can use the socio-demographic data (Acorn) in combination with the GMAL scores to check where this is the case for specific localised areas.
Land use planners can use GMAL to easily identify areas where the public transport accessibility is relatively high, and hence which might give rise to a higher public transport mode share of trips generated by new developments if they were permitted in that area. The creation of the grid data was developed with this application in mind since areas favoured for development are not always covered by existing postcodes.
In addition, TfGM is currently sponsoring research into the relationship between public transport accessibility and trip rates by public transport for different socio-economic groups. In the future it may be possible to apply this research to discover areas of market opportunity for improving public transport services to meet potential demand.
What are Local Link Areas?
Local Link is Demand Responsive Transport which is financially supported by TfGM to serve areas or offer links which cannot be provided by conventional public transport.
Generally speaking a Local Link Area is a defined geographical area within which an affordable taxi-like door to door service is offered. Most Local Links serve facilities outside the Local Link Area boundary. Typically these link passengers to work, hospitals or shops. In addition, Local Link Areas have defined hours and days of operation. These can be complex and difficult to summarise. Further information on the precise conditions of operation for individual Local Link Areas can be found in the leaflets available from the TfGM website. Hyperlinks are provided to these leaflets.
For the purposes of this tool a Local Link Area is considered as analogous to a bus service, the difference being that a bus service route is displayed as a line whereas a Local Link Area is displayed as a (pink) polygon. Just as a bus service has days of operation and hours of operation, i.e. hours within which it has at least one journey, so does a Local Link Area. Hence, just as it is possible to select multiple bus routes for display that meet day(s) of operation and hour(s) of operation criteria so it is possible to select multiple Local Link Areas. Alternatively, you can select individual bus service routes and individual Local Link Areas for display.
How does the tool work?
The tool has two principal modes of operation. It can be used to look at:
1. A ‘network’ of services. In this mode you can choose to look at services and Local Link Areas by day (Mon-Fri, Sat etc.) and by hour of operation (any one of 24 hours or all day). In addition, bus services can be further filtered by type (general, night etc.) by funding source (commercial or tendered) and by operator. Hence, by making appropriate selections under the Display tab in the ‘Multiple bus routes and Local Link Areas selection’ it is possible, for example, to view the network of all commercial services run by Stagecoach on Saturdays between 08:00 and 09:00 or the tendered network on weekdays between 10:00 and 11:00. The default map view shows the routes of all services which run Monday to Friday.
2. The route of an individual service or extent of a Local Link Area. In this mode you can look at the route of an individual service by selecting a service identifier under the Display tab in the ‘Bus route’ subsection of the ‘Individual selection’ section. Here services are identified by their service ‘number’, e.g. 192 or X25 and any suffix, such as the 192M. Once these have been selected the remaining selection criteria (Day of week, Direction and Variation) will default to standard values. However, you can amend these values by clicking on the corresponding drop down lists to select a different service identifier. Similarly, you can look at the extent of a Local link Area by selecting its name in the ‘Local Link Area’ subsection of the ‘Individual selection’ section.
In either mode a variety of additional information can be shown using the ‘Display options’ section. Here you can switch between the display of:
• Multiple or individual routes and Local Link Areas (note that selecting an individual route/Local Link Area in the ‘Individual selection’ section at the bottom of the Display tab automatically toggles the Multiple/Individual display option to Individual)
• Toggle the display of bus route(s) and the display and labelling of bus stations and stops
• Toggle the display of Local Link Areas and the display and labelling of their ‘other places served’
• Toggle the display of rail and Metrolink lines and the display and labelling of stations
• Toggle the display of either postcode or grid GMAL
Once you have selected the required options click the ‘Refresh display’ button.
Is there more information available than I can see on the map?
Additional information about objects displayed on the map can be obtained in one of two ways
1. Where you have selected multiple bus services, using the criteria listed in the ‘Multiple bus routes and Local Link Areas selection’ section, e.g. all Monday to Friday services with a departure in the hour 08:00-08:59 that are tendered and operated by Stagecoach, the resulting set of service IDs and associated operator, contract and frequency information can be exported to Excel by clicking on the ‘Save ID CSV’ button.
2. By clicking on the map with the information tool further information about the underlying object(s) will be shown under the Information tab. For example, if you have elected to display bus routes, bus stops, grid GMALs and Local Link Areas and you click on a bus route which is in a Local Link Area then the information tab will give additional information about:
• The service(s) which run along the road at that point
• The grid GMAL(s) around that point
• The Local Link Area(s) around that point
Furthermore, on the Information tab a series of ‘Save … CSV’ buttons will be enabled. There are six such buttons:
• Save GMAL CSV – exports GMAL scores, socio-demographic data and journey times to key destinations for the postcode(s) or grid cell(s) selected by the Information tool click
• Save Link CSV – exports service IDs and frequency information for all services which meet the current selection criteria and which use the road selected by the Information tool click
• Save Stop CSV – exports bus stop information, including all services using the stop(s) selected by the Information tool click
• Save Bus Freq CSV – exports information on the bus stops/services contributing to the GMAL score for the postcode(s) or grid cell(s) selected by the Information tool click
• Save Rail Freq CSV – exports information on the rail stations/services contributing to the GMAL score for the postcode(s) or grid cell(s) selected by the Information tool click
• Save Metro Freq CSV – exports information on the Metrolink stations/services contributing to the GMAL score for each of the grid cell(s) selected by the Information tool click
Can I get hold of the data used by the tool?
If you are an employee of TfGM, you can get access to the MapInfo files for this
data through the intranet, by going to Help & Resources > Knowledge Hubs
> Maps Hub and then either following the links to
MapInfo Workspaces > ‘Find a stop or station’ or
MapInfo Datasets > Transport Network
> Bus > Bus routes (new ‘ITN’ version).
If you are a contractor of TfGM, a public sector organisation with an Ordnance Survey
license, or a community group / voluntary sector organisation then we may be able
to provide you this data for free. To understand your requirements and explore these
types of opportunity further, please contact
How is the bus mapping data collected?
The data is derived from the bus timetable
data which TfGM hold. This is the same data that is used to populate TfGM bus timetables
at bus stops and used for the North West Journey Planner. The main difference is
that the data for this tool is collected on a ‘snapshot’ basis, and as such is not
guaranteed to reflect the current situation, only the situation as of the date displayed
in the top-left of the screen.
How often is the data updated?
Updates to the bus routes will be delivered within four weeks of the following future service change dates:
~ the April date is set to one week after Easter Sunday
+ the September date is flexible to coincide with the start of school and university terms
GMAL information is recalculated every time the bus routes are updated. The associated socio-demographic data from the Acorn dataset is updated annually in December.
How accurate is the information?
Bus timetable data is mapped to the road network by TfGM, using a process with a
high degree of quality checks involved. Therefore the accuracy is only affected
by the accuracy of the timetable data used (which is as accurate as all other information
available in this respect across Greater Manchester) and the accuracy of our mapping
process. Our own assessment of the accuracy of our mapping process would suggest
an accuracy of 99%. But if you spot anything, which you think is inaccurate from
your own local knowledge, then please don’t hesitate to contact
Are there plans for a version which could
be used by the public?
A trial version designed for use by the public is scheduled for launch in spring 2013. If you have any ideas for how this data could be used directly by members of the public, please contact email@example.com.
How do I display a network of bus services?
Click on the Display tab and make appropriate selections in the ‘Multiple routes and Local Link Areas selection’ section. Then click on the ‘Select and Display’ button in the same section. The routes, and any Local Link Areas if selected for display, meeting the criteria will be displayed in the map window.
How do I display the route of a particular
Click on the Display tab and, in the ‘Bus route’ sub section of the ‘Individual selection’ section, use the drop down lists to enter a service number and suffix. The remaining selection criteria (Day of week, Direction and Variation) will default to standard values. You can overwrite these values if required. To complete the process click the ‘Select and Display’ button. The route will be displayed in the map window. The scale will automatically adjust so that you can see the entire route.
How do I display a particular Local Link Area?
Click on the Display tab and, in the ‘Local Link Area’ subsection of the ‘Individual selection’ section, use the drop down list to select a Local Link Area. To complete the process click the ‘Select and Display’ button. The area will be displayed in the map window. The scale will automatically adjust so that you can see its full extent. Note that you can display a single route and a single Local Link Area simultaneously by selecting both before displaying them. You may have to adjust the zoom level on the map to see them both in the map window
How do I discover which bus services/Local Link Areas operate in an area I am interested in looking at?
Firstly, ensure that the ‘Display options’ section and the ‘Multiple bus routes and Local Link Areas selection’
section are correctly set to display the services which meet any non-spatial criteria, e.g. day of operation,
you may have. To view a popular location use the ‘Select your locality’ drop down list above the map window.
The list includes locations within the Greater Manchester boundary. Alternatively, click the ‘Find Street’ tab
and then enter a postcode or street name. The map will be centred on the selected area, postcode or street.
The routes displayed will be those selected under the Display tab. To discover which bus services run along
a particular road and their frequency select the button,
then click on the relevant section of road. The results will be shown under the Information tab. Note that
only those services which meet the selection criteria (and whose routes will be displayed in the map window)
are picked up with the button. If you have opted to display
bus stops and the map is sufficiently ‘zoomed out’ then clicking on a link may also select a bus stop or stops.
In this case you will see information for the selected link AND the selected stops under the Information tab.
How do I print a map of a bus route or routes?
Click on the button. The current map will appear
in a new print window and a printer dialogue will be displayed. Select the destination printer and other print options,
e.g. paper size and orientation, using this dialogue.
What is the definition of a Tendered service?
A tendered service is any service which is being financially supported by TfGM and consequently
has an associated contract, referenced by a Contract number. Note that just because a service has an associated
contract does not mean that the entire length of the route is tendered. In some cases only a short section of the route,
for example a loop through a housing estate, will be tendered and the rest of the route will be run on a commercial basis.
Unfortunately, without reference to the contract it is not possible to tell whether any part of a Tendered service is run
on a commercial basis. Contract numbers for services can be found in the csv file which can be output under the Information
How can I identify which services are schools services?
To discover which bus services run along a particular road and their frequency select
the button, then click on the relevant section of road. The results will be shown in the Information tab.
Schools services are identified by reference to the Type column which should be set to either ‘Schools’ or
‘Yellow’. The service Type is also output to the csv file generated when you click on the ‘Save Link CSV’
button on the Information tab.
How do I view the bus stations and stops?
To add bus stops to the map window click on the Display tab and in the
‘Display Options’ section click in the Stations/stops Show check box such that a tick is displayed.
If you want to label the station/stop with its identifier you should also click in the Stations/stops
Label check box. What you then see in the map window depends on the other display options
you have selected. If you are displaying more than one service, that is you are viewing the
default map or have clicked on the Select and Display button from the ‘Multiple bus routes
and Local Link Areas selection‘ section, then you will see all stations/stops, optionally labelled
with the stop identifier. The labels are subject to zoom layering and are only visible at larger
scales. Bus stations are always represented by a black TfGM logo. If you are displaying a single service, that is you have clicked on the Select and Display
button from the ‘Individual selection’ section then only those stops used by the selected
service will be displayed. Stops which are timing points are displayed as a green symbol. Other stops
are displayed as a brown symbol. Whether or not a station/stop is a timing point the stops are labelled with
their sequence number along the route plus the station/stop identifier. The labels are subject to zoom layering.
Note that the sequence numbers may have gaps because stops which are only passing places, hail and ride
stops and stops outside GM are excluded.
Is any other bus stop information available?
If you click on the button and then click on a bus stop the following data is displayed in the Information tab
• Stop identifier
• Stop location in terms of the main road and side road descriptions
• Advertising space (Y or N)
• Shelter type
• Kerb height (mm)
• SMS reference
• A list of all the services (disaggregated to service number and suffix level) which call at the stop
The same information is output to the csv file generated when you click on the ‘Save Stop CSV’ button at the bottom of the Information tab. If the map is sufficiently ‘zoomed out’ then clicking on a stop may select more than one stop and a link. In this case you will see information for the stops and the link under the Information tab.