This is really cool. You can now find out where the bus you’re waiting for has got to. The “Now & Next” displays for buses are now available online. So even if your bus stop doesn’t have a display, you can use your phone to find out where your errant 202 has got to.
TfL’s Countdown page: http://countdown.tfl.gov.uk/
It’s only in testing at the moment, but I used it today, and it makes such a difference. Lying on the heath in the sun, check your phone to see when the bus is due, then saunter over to the bus stop two minutes beforehand, and sure enough the bus appears by magic!
You can bookmark your favourite stops – each one has a unique URL, so for example the bus stop next to Shepherds Foods is:
Or the accesible text only version would be:
There’s also a version formatted for mobiles (thanks for the tip Methers)
So you can save separate bookmarks on your phone for your frequently used bus stops.
This is such a great system, and it’s been a long time coming. It opens up so many more possibilites for fun things to do with data & travel. Which are the best/worst performing routes? Which timetables need tweaking for accuracy? iPhone apps that beep when it’s time to run for your bus, and enhanced apps (like the brilliant London Travel Deluxe that no commuter should be without) that can now show real time updates.
Hooray for TfL, and I don’t say that very often…
(Spotted on the excellent Diamond Geezer blog).
Stunning photo of Blackheath Bus Stop in the sun by twitter user Neil Clasper
Just boarded my first ever Talkie Bus. I’d read about them, but never actually experienced them… If you fancy giving one a try, just jump on a number 89 from Lewisham to Blackheath. At every stop a voice will bark “89”, followed by the (somewhat spurious) name of the stop. I think the problem is that areas in London with tube stops are known by their station-names, because of their scarcity. But when every single bus stop is blurted out at you, most of them seem so irrelevant.
I read somewhere (if I remember, I’ll link to it) a blind person saying that they didn’t find the announcements helpful. I’d have thought that they would be, but they just seem so invasive. The other thing is the choice of voices – these are not the honeyed tones of Joanna Lumley silkily informing you that “you have email” (or should that be “sorry you’re with AOL”?). Maybe they should use the mellifluous tones of Neil Nunes (who doesn’t seem to exist at all on the internet in audio form).
But no, they have some terrible set of announcements shouting the names at you. What’s worse is that “bus stopping at next stop, please stand well clear of doors” is still going strong. Why the truncated sentence? If you’re going to insist on a recorded voice hectoring your passengers customers, you could at least speak in full sentences!
And the doors lady isn’t even the same (terrible) voice as the bus stops announcer. So there isn’t even any harmony between the two! I’m hoping they might break into an argument soon. Sometimes they talk over each other, along with the psssh psssh pink noise warning sound.
Ahh, so you’re a waffle man!
I spend a lot of time staring at these signs in Blackheath. They’re not perfect, but they’re better than wondering if your bus is even running… The strange thing is that, unlike the (incredibly useful) Train Departure Boards Live, there doesn’t seem to be any way of getting live bus info online.
Which is odd, because I saw a vandalised bus shelter the other day, and what looked like a broadband modem hanging out of it. I did a bit of googling, and it seems that the current system (shown above) is known as “Countdown“, and has been running since 1996, before GPS was widely used, and was never designed to handle the 8000 buses currently on the system.
So there is a replacement planned. It is called iBus. Of course it is. How could it be called anything else? It promises all manner of super-duper improvements, use of GPS, automatic audio announcements on the bus for each stop, SMS notifications, but nothing about live bus stop info online! I want to be able to search for the 108 towards Lewisham from outside Shepherd Foods, see that it is 8 minutes away, and hurry out of the house to greet it!
I’ve made some enquiries, asking about online info, and when the system will appear in Blackheath, but so far, no reply. I’ll keep you posted…
Alternatively, if any nice Blackheathens (?) have a window out onto Goffers Road, or Prince of Wales road, and feel like sticking a webcam out of it, we could post a link to it here! Justin.tv seems to be an extremely easy way to broadcast a live webcam with almost no effort.