TfL trial bus timetable app

7 September 2011

Bitterwallet - new Routemaster buses

Despite great advances in technology in almost all areas of our lives, one thing that remains crashingly antiquated is our wheezing public transport system.

In particular, our buses are a farce. They stink, are filled with hideous, wretched humans and never, ever arrive when they're supposed to.

Still better than walking though.

So with that, Transport for London are using smartphone technology to help you catch one of these human battery farms on wheels. TfL is trialling a 'countdown' service, which lets you know when the next bus is supposed to arrive at your chosen stop, which means you can leg it for the bus or watch your life ebb away while you stand motionlessly sobbing at the bus-stop.

The Guardian reports that the service's existence leaked out after an internal memo was sent to all TfL staff telling them about it, at countdown.tfl.gov.uk. As well as the beta site, there's also a mobile test version, which looks to be 'developers only' at the moment.

Much like Edinburgh's MyBusTracker, this will enable you to know when your next bus is due. Basically, enter your street, postcode, route number or bus stop code and it'll tell you what you need to know.

Apparently, once the system is fully working, you'll be able to send a text with your bus stop code to receive realtime bus arrival times for that stop, according to TfL.

Now, all we need is everywhere else to sort an app out, seeing as the vast majority of Britain doesn't live in London and Edinburgh.

TOPICS:   Technology   Mobile   UK News   Travel   Gadgets

6 comments

  • Dick
    Knowing when the next bus is due is pointless. Knowing when it will actually arrive is more useful.
  • PlatinumPlatypus
    Dick, these systems do track buses in real-time. I use Edinburgh's system, and I also use West Yorkshire (Metro)'s system occasionally. Both work very well.
  • The B.
    TheReg did this yesterday, there was an interesting comment from one of the guys who developed the countdown system explaining "phantom" buses (when you see it go 4,3,2,1 minutes and then disappear without ever turning up). Apparently they didn't use GPS because the London skyline meant that they couldn't get a proper fix so they used street level transmitters but the drivers didn't like people knowing where they were so would jam crisp packets, tin can's, etc around the transponder in their cab. If the system couldn't get a fix on the bus then it would assume that it was following the timetable thus phantom buses.
  • Dick
    @Platypus - not always. I've seen phantom buses in many cities, although this tends to be on the screens at the bus stop as I don't use a smartphone. I never knew they were called that, so thanks Bob.
  • WhyAyeMrs
    There is also this. http://www.traveline.info/mobile.html I used the texty version thing in Sunderland last Boxing Day and it worked. In Sunderland. On Boxing Day. My hands were too cold to be bothered with the whole internet thing. So there
  • tour
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