back to article New London Bus API arrived at approximately ... 15.00

This afternoon, Transport for London opened up an API to share the data normally displayed in bus shelters with one and all, so expect a deluge of route-planning apps just in time for the Olympics. The API joins up existing data feeds for Boris-bike availability, vehicle traffic and waiting times for trains, and is already …


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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Out of character

    After having to wait this long, you'd expect 4 to arrive together

  2. Anonymous Coward


    "The Oyster card removes the need to scrabble for change" - outside London, bus fairs are measured in notes these days.

    1. Irongut Silver badge

      Re: Pardon?

      Not in Glasgow they're not, unless you really want to pay £10 for a £2.50 fare.

      1. Gavin McMenemy

        Re: Pardon?

        Or Edinburgh: £1.40 single, £3ish daysaver (use as much as you like day ticket).

        Of course everything is dug up at the moment, which hampers the great service we used to have somewhat...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pardon?

          Most trips in the SE and in S Wales I immediately hand over a fiver before I check to see how much extra is needed, even for a trip of a few miles.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pardon?

      And you're properly stuffed if you've run out of credit, especially at night.

      1. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: Pardon?

        That's what auto top-up is for.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Pardon?

          You don't know how good you lot have got it. Try Nottingham, they've solved the problem by just not giving change.

        2. micheal

          Re: Pardon?

          auto top up only works if you use trains too

          you cant collect it from a bus

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: bus fairs?

      Is this some sort of show where we can see buses, like a convention? or perhaps you mean "fares"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: bus fairs?

        I'm glad you Czeched that!

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pardon?

      Not in Oxford. The bus drivers get annoyed if you give them a tenner for a £2.60 fare. Better stick to a fiver or coins. That said, most of the population use the Oxford Key for their bus, works just like Oyster, and even works, if you so choose, on the buses to London, Heathrow and Gatwick.

      And Oxontime does the same as the displays in London. Even does SMS short codes. :-)

  3. Gavin McMenemy

    Hello London! Welcome to the 21st century experience we've been enjoying in Edinburgh for the last decade at least.

    GPS? Check.

    Route planning? Check.

    Accurate? Check.*

    Good Apps for major phone platforms? Check.

    Bus stops with Unique IDs and QR codes that link you to the relevant stop details (so that if you have a smartphone you can still see what's happening? Check.

    Smart Cards? Check.

    Still able to pay in cash if you must? Check.

    *Well accurate til the sodding tramworks started.

  4. Alan 6

    Got to admit public transport in the smoke is spot on.

    As a northerner I was naturally terrified when I had to pay a visit to London last year, especially as my ultimate destination was on the DLR which was suspended that weekend.

    The replacement buses and tube were the model of efficiency, so we managed to travel from Euston to Dulwich to Limehouse to City Airport without problems.

    Just wish the trains in Lancashire were half as efficient, where a single carriage train during rush hour is a regular occurance...

    1. Danny 14

      single carriage trains

      ah yes, good old bolton to manchester. Every man + dog parks at horwich parkway and commutes (free parking ftw!) so why they put piddly trains on from 7.30 ->10 is beyond me.

  5. sebacoustic

    great stuff

    I expect it can only be about, say, 20 years before Greater Manchester Public Transport Authority (whatever their rebranded name du jour is) have something similar going.

    How hard can it be, really. Oh and by the way, the "one bus journey one price" isn't that great, you could factor in the distance travelled, and allow for changing buses within one journey.

    Oh, and have a 2-line 7-segment display above each Oyster pad saying "remaining balance" and "charge for this journey" can't cost the earth either.

    1. Phlip

      Re: great stuff

      Over on the correct side of the Pennines, West Yorkshire Metro have had their 'next bus' service for a few years now - available on iOS with the NextBuses or MyBus apps.

    2. Robert E A Harvey


      I tried the sms short codes on Manchester bus stops last week. They seem to use the same code on both sides of the road, and the software supplies times for one direction only. Not bright.

      Then I noticed a 12 minute difference between the times I was texted and those on the paper timetable glued to the bus stop. The busses appeared to be reading the paper timetable.

  6. Wild Bill

    I'm confused

    Wasn't this data made public a while back? What's been fueling this awesome bus time app on my phone for the last six months then?

    1. Phil Endecott

      Re: I'm confused

      > Wasn't this data made public a while back? What's been fueling this awesome bus time app on my

      > phone for the last six months then?

      I believe that was a "beta" version of essentially the same thing.

  7. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    What about security?

    Couldn't this be used by terrorists?

    Surely unauthorised users must be blocked from the system for the "people running around event that must not be named" in a capital city in a year between 2011 and 2013

    Alternately I suppose you could mount tanks on a few roofs to deal with buses.

    1. illiad

      Re: What about security?

      paranoid people: this is about as limp as your 'gmaps is watching me' comment...

      go ahead, point gmaps to where your 'woolworths' was... - you may find it STILL open!!! ROFL

      It may be nice to get a view of ALL the buses in motion, but most mobiles dont have that kind of resources.. to say nothing about the huge amount of data killing your local transponder!!

      All you get, is where the bus stop is, and how long it may take to get there.. good news is you can see it going up, when stuck in traffic, or down when that traffic disappears!! :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about security?

      When I worked for a government agency, we tried to get a definitive list of bus stations to add to maps on an Olympics website we had been commissioned to write. I was told by TfL that I couldn't have this list for security reasons, although I had always assumed that bus stations were large, clearly marked buildings that the public were intended to be able to find.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        Re: What about security? (@Chris Wareham)

        Surely that data was already on hand? There must be something behind

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about security? (@Chris Wareham)

          That's a Department of Transport site, so I guess they have more clout than the agency I worked for. In the end we got the data we needed from Wikipedia (I kid you not).

  8. Stephen Channell
    Thumb Up

    // been live since last summer, but

    .. this might stop bus drivers pulling out of the station without letting any passengers on (pretending to be out of service) or resting just a bit longer while passengers wait in the rain.

  9. illiad

    Is this what I have been *using* for 8 months???

    has been going since November...

    over 300 more apps... :)

    1. Wyrdness

      Re: Is this what I have been *using* for 8 months???

      I've been using BusGuru for ages, which seems to have access to this data. It's certainly accurate about telling me how long I'll have to wait for a particular bus.

  10. arrbee

    "Londoners rarely seem to appreciate just how effective their bus network is"

    that would be because it was excluded from the nationwide bus privatisation for some strange reason. Edinburgh also has a public bus company although in their case it has to compete with First, as a result of which customers do indeed get a pretty good service.

    1. Gavin McMenemy

      And yet LRT doesn't really compete with First inside the City Limits.

    2. illiad

      Its a bit like waiting for the kettle to boil... :)

      No, seriously... If you are sitting there, impatient and doing nothing, its *feels* like hours.... :/

      - with this on your phone, you can see in real time, what the buses are doing! - it has returned my respect of buses back to me!!! :) :)

      BEST feature... :) I can tell if I have time for 'nother pint, without waiting out in the rain for the bus!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Its a bit like waiting for the kettle to boil... :)

        Illiad old chap, there's an app in it's own right just there!

  11. Mr Young

    I'm on the bus!

    Dress it up with fancy technology all you want but I'd guess being on a bus probably qualifies you for a trick cyclist exam essay subject?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Whereas in Shropshire, we have no need for such fancy tech

    As we have a perfectly simple service. Today's bus will either turn up, or it won't.

  13. Martin H Watson


    London buses are tracked by GPS, so shelters routinely have three-line screens ??? ROUTINELY?? They are the excception rather than standard and they are being removed. I don't have a fone-dle, I want bus stop displays.

    1. Wild Bill

      Re: ROUTINELY??

      Get a fone-dle. They are good. You only live once.

    2. illiad

      Re: ROUTINELY??

      I hear the problem with bus stops, AFAIK is they are 'managed' by 3 different companies!!


      LT want a nicer stop.

      week later: shelter removed, including all other stuff..

      week or 2 later: building negotiations finish, so a new shelter is built (electronics? nuffin to do with me...)

      week or 2 later: LT 'discover' there is no 'countdown' at that stop.. (different company!)

      week or 2 later: electronics contract negotiations finish, so a new 'countdown' system is put in..

      week or 2 later: new system is incompatible with current shelter, regs, etc...(different company!)

      week or 2 later: if you are lucky, the system may work, or is deemed too expensive...

      I have seen this happen at a major stop I use.. ancient shelter, but good rain protection, and countdown.. this was removed, getting brand new one! - so now I get wet for around three weeks, and no countdown!!

      Brand new fancy shelter, looks 'arty' but no real protection from wind and rain.. 6 months later, still no countdown... :(

  14. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    Outside of London

    So what are the chances of this happening outside of London, 0%, why? Deregulation has allowed buses to be a profit making business, in London the buses are run by private companies but they are scrutinised over their costs and profits and they don't set the fares.

    If you want cheaper and better out there, follow London. Buses aren't for making a profit.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      for making a profit

      Why on earth are Busses not for making a profit?

      Where I live we get a proud and wonderful service from a family owned bus company that has had to make a profit for a hundred years. They manage to purchase the first version of new models, run a regular service with clean reliable busses, and organise a heritage bus procession from time to time.

      I like this page:

      1. Hardcastle the ancient


        That is as mad a downvote as I can ever remember!

  15. Stretch

    JSON fail

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