Anyone who has been on a London bus lately, will have noticed the audio journey announcements telling you the next stop, the digital display of the same and the how long have I got to wait digital signage at bus stops. This is all part of Transport for London’s iBus project.[tfL web team, turn off the play=yes on the video pleeze!]. For some iBus is a bit of an annoyance (see for example the usually placid residents of ChiswickW4), but overall aim is to provide a better service to all London residents:
In a nutshell, iBus is a £117m, state-of-the-art Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) and radio system which helps us run a more reliable, consistent, bus service.
iBus works by using a GPRS system that tracks all the buses fitted with the iBus transmitter and sends that information to a central server called CentreComm – which is also the 24/7 Emergency Command and Control Centre. From here bus controllers can tune in and monitor all buses, spot speeders and laggards and make them go faster, slow down to synch the schedule. With all this in place, why can’t we access it too? We should be able to log-in and see how often the E3 bus decided to finish early (as often happens) and how often they decided to break all speed limits to finish their shift (as often happens). But more interestingly, we should be able to see the map of all the buses so we can tap into the system at a bus stop. Wouldn’t it be good if Google maps was mashed up with the iBus system and we could see what buses were on their way via a SmartPhone? I’d find that useful and could time when I went to catch the bus allowing a leisurely stroll to the bus stop and avoiding long waits in the cold. Update – I’ve been advised that there’s not one due, but when it does arrive, 3 will turn up at the same time. Update: Londonreconnections Blog has good background info on this: TfL and Approaches to Communication