Important information about external data sources in TfL open data

Action required for open data users using the following TfL open data:

Hello everyone,

Our open data includes or derives data from other sources. Depending on the TfL open data you use, you may need to attribute some of these sources when using our data, and comply with the licences they are released under.

Please refer to the table below to see whether the TfL open data you use incorporates other data sources:

* NOTE: from early 2024, we intend to begin using OpenStreetMap data in JourneyResults and the Journey Planner API.

Please let us know if you have any questions.


I would like to know if there is any option to prevent ODbL like attribution for OpenStreetMap (and such) for the requests made? I am especially concerned if for example timetables and routes gets mixed with data that has additional requirements. OpenStreetMap is a private entity, what was the reason not to use the official UK geodata sets, and move to a specific private vendor?

@Skinkie while OpenStreetMap is indeed a private entity (as in: a foundation, not a gov entity), it operates under an open license model which encourages wide distribution and usage of the data.
OpenStreetMap already has a large amount of details, including very detailed mapping of certain things.
Belgian Rail (NMBS) is using it for mapping their wheelchair and general accessibility of train stations for example.
French Rail also uses OSM: OSM goes indoors: Why SNCF Transilien mapped 388 train stations with OpenStreetMap

The ODbL license for OSM was chosen on purpose, so that any changes made to OSM data have to land back into OSM or be made available to OSM contributors.

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Hello and welcome to the forum. Thank you for your message.

To clarify: OpenStreetMap derived data will only be contained in Journey Planner responses (whether via the Unified API’s JourneyResults method or the standalone Journey Planner API). Within this data, it would only be present in geographic data (i.e. line strings) and walking and cycling legs. Furthermore, we do not return OpenStreetMap data directly but rather it informs our routing engine. For this reason, it is our understanding that our use of OpenStreetMap would constitute a Produced Work, and many of the conditions of the Open Database License do not apply.

If you would like to tell us which TfL open data you are using, we could let you know whether this may contain external data.

There are several reasons for us using OpenStreetMap. For instance, the data is of a very high quality, it is a lot more granular than our current dataset, and it is available free of charge. It has a lot of data on cycle routes and attributes for roads, which will allow us to provide better walking and cycling journeys. It is also constantly being updated, meaning we can benefit from the most up-to-date information, and if there is an error, we can correct it ourselves. We have previously contributed data to OpenStreetMap and intend to do more of this in the future; in this way we and other data consumers can obtain data from a single source, avoiding the problems of trying to combine multiple geographic datasets.

Given these and other factors, we do not believe another dataset exists that is comparable. As @Thibaultmol mentioned, OpenStreetMap is used by several transport authorities in the UK and abroad; this also gave us confidence that this is a tried-and-tested dataset that we can rely upon.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions.


I am aware that some of bigger countries are contributing to OpenStreetMap. To me, this does not make sense. We are talking about authoritative data used for navigation, we have seen in the past how larger search engines got punished for invalid pedestrian navigation. One may expect that the datasets used are maintained by infrastructure owners in private collections, and are therefore validated, not by the community by an infrastructure owner beyond “best effort”.

It may well by that the Dutch situation where we have key registries of extremely high quality actually give end users a choice to use governmental publish data or OpenStreetMap, or in that sense a commercial cartography provider. But especially for contributed data by a Transport Agency I would expect this that to made available under the same license terms as the transport dataset itself. I have noticed that it only affects the Journey Planner API, but I would consider this a small step where for example a timetable with routes/shapes becomes a derived work from OpenStreetMap. Which must be avoided at all costs.

I would also argue that using something similar to OpenLR would allow the publication of the results without the requirement of using OpenStreetMap for presentation purposes would make a good alternative.

Interesting. Of course in the UK, the only place that pedestrians are not allowed is motorways, and because of “an error” handing over the roods in London to Transport For London, there are now almost no motorways in Greater London!

Of course, the difference between “pedestrians are allowed” and “pedestrians suitable” is a subtle one.