Bus Information Screens

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Welshman

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I read on the WYMetro website that Halifax Bus Station's real time information screens are being upgraded.

All well and good, but isn't there some way of over-riding them when things go awry?

For example, last Saturday morning about 10am, I was amongst a group of people awaiting a Calder Valley Service [Group 590 ]. We'd all seen the pictures of the flash flooding at Mytholmroyd the night before, and were sympathising with the lot of the flood victims, and wondering what service[if any]would be provided.

In the meanwhile, the new information screens were announcing the departures - to Burnley, then to Todmorden, then to Heptonstall, etc, as thought it were a normal Saturday. The time for departure came, and the screen changed to the next one, etc. The only slight problem was no bus appeared during any of this time, and the screen was left happily amusing itself.

Eventually a bus arrived on the stand, and the driver resorted to the low- technology method of shouting "Luddenden Foot only" as he opened the doors.

Mis-information is worse than no information, and if these new screens cannot be overriden at times like this, then give me the old chalk and blackboard any day.
 
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Deerfold

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I read on the WYMetro website that Halifax Bus Station's real time information screens are being upgraded.

All well and good, but isn't there some way of over-riding them when things go awry?

For example, last Saturday morning about 10am, I was amongst a group of people awaiting a Calder Valley Service [Group 590 ]. We'd all seen the pictures of the flash flooding at Mytholmroyd the night before, and were sympathising with the lot of the flood victims, and wondering what service[if any]would be provided.

In the meanwhile, the new information screens were announcing the departures - to Burnley, then to Todmorden, then to Heptonstall, etc, as thought it were a normal Saturday. The time for departure came, and the screen changed to the next one, etc. The only slight problem was no bus appeared during any of this time, and the screen was left happily amusing itself.

Eventually a bus arrived on the stand, and the driver resorted to the low- technology method of shouting "Luddenden Foot only" as he opened the doors.

Mis-information is worse than no information, and if these new screens cannot be overriden at times like this, then give me the old chalk and blackboard any day.
I've raised that with them before but didn't get very far - when there was the bad snow a couple of years ago and no buses were running at all the signs were displaying everything as perfect. What they do is display the information they get from the bus. However if the system is not in contact with the bus if assumes it's on time and displays the schedule information - often this is a close assumption but it doesn't seem to be alterable - back then they'd have been better just turning the whole system off. The bus drivers should be able to log into an alternate destination - but may not know how to do this if they haven't been told - I know in London they can but they rely on the controller to tell them the alternate log on details.
 

Statto

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I didn't think these boards were real time info boards regardless what the Website says, as i've been waiting a few times for late running buses at WYPTE bus stations with these installed, only for the boards to show the next service, not the delayed one, from the stand.
 

Deerfold

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I didn't think these boards were real time info boards regardless what the Website says, as i've been waiting a few times for late running buses at WYPTE bus stations with these installed, only for the boards to show the next service, not the delayed one, from the stand.
As I said above - it depends on whether information is being received from the bus. Some buses are not fitted with the correct equipment so for those no information will be recieved.

The information at Keighley bus station is generally real-time for 2 of my bus routes and not for the other as Burnley and Pendle buses are not fitted with the right real-time equipment.

You can tell if the information is real-time or not - if it is, it gives the number of minutes until the next bus. If not it displays the scheduled time. A scheduled time will disappear when that timwe is reached, regardless of what happens to the bus, real-time info should only disappear when the bus turns up.
 

Statto

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As I said above - it depends on whether information is being received from the bus. Some buses are not fitted with the correct equipment so for those no information will be recieved.

The information at Keighley bus station is generally real-time for 2 of my bus routes and not for the other as Burnley and Pendle buses are not fitted with the right real-time equipment.

You can tell if the information is real-time or not - if it is, it gives the number of minutes until the next bus. If not it displays the scheduled time. A scheduled time will disappear when that timwe is reached, regardless of what happens to the bus, real-time info should only disappear when the bus turns up.
Good point, last time i was in West Yorkshire was a few years ago, but bus stations when bus station boards only displayed departure times rather than how long until the bus arrives, it's easy to spot if real time running is on the boards as it'll display due in 2 min ecc rather than [insert bus number destination]10:50.
 

Deerfold

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Unfortunately I don't think in West Yorkshire they can force the buses to be fitted and companies have the freedom to bring buses in and out of service or transfer them around the country whereas in London it's a contractual obligation to get them fitted at the first opportunity (often by the manufacturer) so they're usually fitted before they enter service.

Some companies aren't really worth fitting - such as Burnley and Pendle - as they run 2 buses/hour into Keighley but they can be run by any of their Mainline fleet.

Similarly the infrequent services on the 1 to Todmorden can be run by any of the Starship fleet.
 

Schnellzug

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Oh, I know. They've installed them round here, and while they can be useful, that usefulness is mainly as a quick reference to what's scheduled in the next hour or so, not as any reliable guide as to when buses are going to turn up. In fact, the Real time thing can be misleading, as it seems to register on the system when drivers set the destination thing when they start, but what they do is, they go round to the stand on the other side of the road, so the system seems to think that, the moment the Bus starts moving, then it starts showing the estimated arrival time, when in fact it can be another 5 minutes or so until it actually leaves. And so, you'll see that, say, a number 10 is shown as "10 minutes" when you know there's not one scheduled to leave from down town for 15 minutes, so you're not sure if this is the previous one running late, and so it causes more confusion that it's any help with. And it depends on the equipment on the buses working as well, which rarely happens much more than 50% of the time. And sometimes all the buses on one route will disappear from the system, so it'll look as if there's no number 10s running at all. or data will be entered three times in error, like then other day, when no fewer than three 211s were all expected to arrive at 1228.
 

causton

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it seems to register on the system when drivers set the destination thing when they start, but what they do is, they go round to the stand on the other side of the road,
I saw that in London when I clicked on the first stop of a service for a certain route (18, if you're wondering) and saw:

18 Euston 1 min
18 Euston 1 min
18 Euston 2 min
18 Euston 3 min
18 Euston 3 min
18 Euston 3 min

Sure enough I walked down the road and 3 buses were laying over on the opposite side of the road, with 3 at the stop, the first one preparing to depart!



In Hertfordshire we have:


*I've only seen 3 so far, one displaying times (e.g. 13:14), another displaying real-time shown in the pic (i.e. 3 mins), and one displaying PLEASE REFER TO TIMETABLE. They seem to only show Uno routes, as Uno are the only operator in the vicinity who have the new ticket machines on all their fleet, these new ticket machines have a GPS antenna attached to the roof of the bus and display details of the journey and how early/late the bus is!
 

Statto

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Oh, I know. They've installed them round here, and while they can be useful, that usefulness is mainly as a quick reference to what's scheduled in the next hour or so, not as any reliable guide as to when buses are going to turn up. In fact, the Real time thing can be misleading, as it seems to register on the system when drivers set the destination thing when they start, but what they do is, they go round to the stand on the other side of the road, so the system seems to think that, the moment the Bus starts moving, then it starts showing the estimated arrival time, when in fact it can be another 5 minutes or so until it actually leaves. And so, you'll see that, say, a number 10 is shown as "10 minutes" when you know there's not one scheduled to leave from down town for 15 minutes, so you're not sure if this is the previous one running late, and so it causes more confusion that it's any help with. And it depends on the equipment on the buses working as well, which rarely happens much more than 50% of the time. And sometimes all the buses on one route will disappear from the system, so it'll look as if there's no number 10s running at all. or data will be entered three times in error, like then other day, when no fewer than three 211s were all expected to arrive at 1228.
Most bus routes take 30 to 90 minutes so it's almost impossible to have Real Time info running for buses due, over an hour later, as you have journeys which haven't departed from the start of the route, most RTD will show

413 Seacombe 5 min
403 Seacombe 13 min
413 Seacombe 25 min
403 Seacombe 14:50
413 Seacombe 15:00
 

Deerfold

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Most bus routes take 30 to 90 minutes so it's almost impossible to have Real Time info running for buses due, over an hour later, as you have journeys which haven't departed from the start of the route, most RTD will show

413 Seacombe 5 min
403 Seacombe 13 min
413 Seacombe 25 min
403 Seacombe 14:50
413 Seacombe 15:00
The system in London tries to predict for the next trip. Unfortuanately it bases this prediction on the schedule - if the bus is going to arrive in time to set off in time the system assumes it will until it doesn't (if it's runing very late it'll work out how long it'll take the bus to get to the end of the route and add a couple of minutes for it to set off again). If lots of buses are late and bunch it'll behave as in causton's post as the buses should be held back and released at reasonable intervals.
 

radamfi

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Unfortunately I don't think in West Yorkshire they can force the buses to be fitted and companies have the freedom to bring buses in and out of service or transfer them around the country whereas in London it's a contractual obligation to get them fitted at the first opportunity (often by the manufacturer) so they're usually fitted before they enter service.

Some companies aren't really worth fitting - such as Burnley and Pendle - as they run 2 buses/hour into Keighley but they can be run by any of their Mainline fleet.

Similarly the infrequent services on the 1 to Todmorden can be run by any of the Starship fleet.
If Quality Contracts come in then it will be no big deal to get most if not all buses in WY fitted with GPS tracking. (There is a meeting tomorrow which should decide once and for all whether it will happen). Even modest sized companies in the south have it fleet wide, such as Metrobus and Brighton & Hove. Metrobus cover all routes, even rural routes which run a few times a day. If they can do it, then major companies like First WY and Arriva WY have no excuse.

In the Netherlands most if not all buses in the whole country have satellite tracking. Certainly every bus I've been on in the Netherlands in the last few years has had a computer screen in front of the driver showing where he is and how late he is (similar to TfL iBus).

There is an Android app that has real time information for all buses in a large part of the Netherlands, and presumably intends to be nationwide:

http://www.androidzoom.com/android_applications/transportation/ovinfo-beta_bqrso.html?nav=related

Real time bus information appears to be open source over there.
 

Deerfold

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Unfortunately due to the unintegrated nature of transport in this country adjoining areas have incompatible systems - so at the 81 stop in Slough bus station there is a screen but it provides no information as it is connected to the local system, not the London one - despite the 81 being the first bus in the area to have been fitted with real-time kit.
 

34D

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but isn't there some way of over-riding them when things go awry?
Yes. But it relies on the appropriate people making the updates.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Unfortunately due to the unintegrated nature of transport in this country adjoining areas have incompatible systems - so at the 81 stop in Slough bus station there is a screen but it provides no information as it is connected to the local system, not the London one - despite the 81 being the first bus in the area to have been fitted with real-time kit.
Don't forget that a lot of this is because London insists on going its own way despite systems for elsewhere being fine.
 

Deerfold

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Yes. But it relies on the appropriate people making the updates.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---


Don't forget that a lot of this is because London insists on going its own way despite systems for elsewhere being fine.
I don't think any areas that border London had real time information before London had its current 2nd generation system and certainly none before the previous system. They take part in the relevant groups which seem to be very slowly coming up with standards for interavailability of these systems.

You could perhaps argue London should make more effort on these but given the systems would benefit (say) people in Slough you'd think they might get in touch (as it was they didn't even tell London Buses the right date for the opening of the new bus station).

A lot of the off-the shelf systems could not cope with systems the size of London's - not many places have 8500 buses! Versions of the systems used in London have since been sold to other transport authorities.
 

WelshBluebird

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The buses not sending real time information is a fair point, but surely the system must support custom messages to be sent to the information screens? If so, something such as "services not running as normal due to flooding" would suffice, maybe with a phone number to ring for extra info?
 

34D

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I don't think any areas that border London had real time information before London had its current 2nd generation system and certainly none before the previous system.
If by current system you mean the gps based system used for the past couple of years (with the previous beacon-based system that had been in use since around 2005, then I do believe that other areas had been providing gps based RTI since before that.
 

Deerfold

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If by current system you mean the gps based system used for the past couple of years (with the previous beacon-based system that had been in use since around 2005, then I do believe that other areas had been providing gps based RTI since before that.
The beacon-based system was in use from the mid-90s. The GPS system (iBus) started to be installed in 2007. Although some systems were in use by 2007 I don't know of any in areas bordering London.
 

Statto

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Out of interest how much would the chips that enable satellite tracking are fitted onto the bus cost, if there expensive i can understand why not every bus is fitted with these chips, but find it odd that some companies have every route with real time info but other areas don't.

I do know the other problem is fitting the real time displays onto stops only to find the route has been diverted & no longer serving the stop.
 

Deerfold

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Out of interest how much would the chips that enable satellite tracking are fitted onto the bus cost, if there expensive i can understand why not every bus is fitted with these chips, but find it odd that some companies have every route with real time info but other areas don't.

I do know the other problem is fitting the real time displays onto stops only to find the route has been diverted & no longer serving the stop.
I think the London system works out at a couple of grand per bus (it's not as simple as a few chips - you need stuff to transmit the data back too - and you usually find you end up with half a dozen ariels for one thing or another all competing for space. The London system is pretty accurate at knowing where the bus is even when it loses GPS signal - it has a very precise odometer and gyroscopes too - that's vital as London has some big GPS holes).

For any decent system the signs will display details for whatever routes serve that stop (if the other routes are fitted...) - London has the advantage there of central planning but still sometimes has to move signs when stops change, which incurs a cost.
Then there's the cost of the central predicting system - the cost will be higher if you need a higher throughput of data so you might just choose to put flagship routes in there...and there's the cost of a phone line and data transmission costs to signs (either fixed line or mobile but most bus stop signs will have a phone number).
 

Statto

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I think the London system works out at a couple of grand per bus (it's not as simple as a few chips - you need stuff to transmit the data back too - and you usually find you end up with half a dozen ariels for one thing or another all competing for space. The London system is pretty accurate at knowing where the bus is even when it loses GPS signal - it has a very precise odometer and gyroscopes too - that's vital as London has some big GPS holes).

For any decent system the signs will display details for whatever routes serve that stop (if the other routes are fitted...) - London has the advantage there of central planning but still sometimes has to move signs when stops change, which incurs a cost.
Then there's the cost of the central predicting system - the cost will be higher if you need a higher throughput of data so you might just choose to put flagship routes in there...and there's the cost of a phone line and data transmission costs to signs (either fixed line or mobile but most bus stop signs will have a phone number).
Cheers i didn't realise the cost of installing such systems.
 

citybus

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I know the average bus company relishes coming up with policies that make their services less attractive to customers, but it begs the question- why do they consider it a priority to spend many thousands of pounds on technology that is only accurate a third of the time. Unreal time is just an easy to read timetable most of the time.
 

Deerfold

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I know the average bus company relishes coming up with policies that make their services less attractive to customers, but it begs the question- why do they consider it a priority to spend many thousands of pounds on technology that is only accurate a third of the time. Unreal time is just an easy to read timetable most of the time.
Quite often the money for real-time systems is spent by Councils or Transport Authorities who aren't allowed to spend money on running buses, reducing fares or maknig sure the buses are pleasant to travel on.
 

causton

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The buses not sending real time information is a fair point, but surely the system must support custom messages to be sent to the information screens? If so, something such as "services not running as normal due to flooding" would suffice, maybe with a phone number to ring for extra info?
This does happen in London and in Hertfordshire. The screens in Hertfordshire (blue/white) pop up "advertising" ("visit our website at intalink.org.uk", "download our app for real time info") and can be changed to messages like "Services disrupted by snow" etc etc). In London messages scroll across the bottom row e.g. "Find real-time bus information at www.tfl.gov.uk/buses", "Industrial action expected tomorrow", that last message actually appeared on the bottom row of an in-bus screen (where it normally says Bus Stopping) last time I took the W3! As it happened the strike was called off at about 9pm...
 

Deerfold

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"Industrial action expected tomorrow", that last message actually appeared on the bottom row of an in-bus screen (where it normally says Bus Stopping) last time I took the W3! As it happened the strike was called off at about 9pm...
That message appeared for a few hours before being replaced by one saying that buses were expected to run as normal tomorrow.
 
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