Waiting for buses is a perennial problem for Londoners and unless you are lucky to have one of the electronic countdown timers at your bus stop, it’s a case of squinting your eyes and peering into the distance to see if the 141 to London Bridge is anywhere in sight.
Now, without so much as a squeak from Transport for London (TfL), those responsible for the buses in London have rolled out (albeit in a beta version) a website where you can get live updates of the timetable for every bus stop in the city.
That’s right, no more uncertain waiting for bus passengers, they can now head to countdown.tfl.gov.uk, input their bus stop and voila, a list of buses which stop there will be displayed and when they are due at the bus stop. Genius.
You can type a street, postcode or even route number into the search panel on the site and you will be then shown to a map with a variety of stops on it. Click on your stop and a list of buses and what time they are due at that stop will be displayed.
Each bus stop has a unique five-digit code and once you know that, you can just input that, to get you straight to your stop. The website even lets you save your favourite bus stops for quick access – and you can even filter the routes so the feed shows just the buses you are interested in.
To update the timetable there is a manual refresh button as the site doesn’t refresh automatically. Live timetables for all bus stops within the TfL network, no matter how obscure can be accessed on this site.
The website is currently in beta testing and thus the lack of promotion from TfL, but from our limited usage this morning, it seems to be working flawlessly.
What about when you’re not sitting at your desk or at home? There is a dedicated mobile site, to allow you to check the timetables while at your bus stop. And there’s even a text-based version for those without smartphones.
While TfL doesn’t seem to have any plans to bring out a smartphone app using this data, should they make the data available as open source, there would be many developers who would be lining up to do so.
For a lot of regular bus users this could make a huge difference to their everyday lives. No longer will they have to spend endless hours at rain-battered bus stops praying that the red blur in the distance is their bus.
Give it a try and let us know in the comments what you think of the service, but be warned that as it is still in a beta version, it may not work perfectly all the time.
Source: Diamond Geezer