It's been provided as part of the data available for the Apps4NSW competition. launched by the NSW Premier at NSWSphere.
Unlike similar initiatives in the US and UK, which have generally employed Creative Commons licenses, the NSW Transport Authority has released the data contingent to users signing on to a specific data licensing agreement (PDF), providing the government with significantly more control over how the data may be used and who by.
As an initial step it is great to see the NSW government attempting to free up public data, although the current license agreement may restrict some usage.
For example, the license requires that there be someone eligible and willing to legally sign such an agreement. This could cause developers to think twice before signing on. It could also limit participation by young programmers and school students if their parents and schools are concerned over entering into this formal binding legal agreement with the NSW government.
The license also requires that licensees show their application to the Transport Authority at least 30 days before the application goes live. This reduces the ability for licensees to develop emergency applications at short notice to address specific events - such as fires, floods or other disasters (even dust storms).
There's also a requirement to update applications when the Department updates data, which could also present issues to those mashing up data for fun or experience. It seems to be aimed at companies who choose to mashup the data.
The comments I've seen published on Twitter include:
matthewlandauer: Not impressed with the NSW transport data license http://is.gd/3w1iL especially section 6: Release to the public. #gov2au
NickHodge: @trib @chieftech @matthewlandauer someone is scared about transparency in NSW public transport, me thinks :-(
malcolmt: Sad. Epic Fail by NSW gov with public transport timetable data license. This word Open, it does not mean what you think it means.
dasfreak: First NSW Gov open data effort starting with transport data. License on the whole OK. Reporting section bit onerous http://bit.ly/ehlj2
Overall this is a step forward for government openness, and in many respects a large step - particularly from NSW Transport's position in March, where it was actively pursuing developers with threats of legal action.
However it is only one step along a very long road.