Can UK public buses do real-time tracking?

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by Britband, 4 Jul 2017.

  1. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Established Member

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    Google Maps?
     
  2. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    Does that do real time information for Stagecoach services, not just scheduled times?
     
  3. KGGXXXY

    KGGXXXY Member

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    Edinburgh has done real time tracking (at bus stops and online) for years, when I lived there Lothian (and subsidiaries) were the only buses that were live, however the system is operated by Edinburgh City Council and is open to other operators. http://www.mybustracker.co.uk/
     
  4. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    It has - I worked on both systems (at one point my job was working out where to put new beacons).

    The original AVL system relied on buses contacting a central system every 30 seconds - they reported the last radio beacon they passed and how many metres they'd travelled since then from an on-bus odometer.

    The main problem with this system was that we only knew exactly where the bus was as it passed a beacon - and if an unexpected diversion took the bus off route and it didn't pass any other beacons the system assumed it was passing down the normal route.

    Other problems were that the system did not know anything about a bus until it left the first stand on the route (which in some cases was the first stop) - so predictions for early stops on a route were not much use; beacons either had internal batteries (about 90%) which needed replacing approx every 5 years - or were connected to a power supply. Beacons around Heathrow tended to fail regularly as signals from radar were similar to the signals from a bus, activating them frequently.

    At the time the original system was introduced, GPS could only be used to calculate location within about 100m.

    The new system (iBus) replaced this between 2007-2009. Initially a system converted the output to be the same as the old system to then feed into the old signs (there were about 1800). New signs (Countdown II) were rolled out - there are around 2600 (initially 5000 were planned, but budget cuts halved this - a few are funded by other means than the original budget - section 106 agreements etc).

    The system also provided a new radio system and provision for On Bus Next Stop Signs aboard all buses.

    The new system uses GPS, an odometer, a turn rate sensor and a gyroscope to provide an accuracy to within 10m every 30 seconds.
     
  5. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Established Member

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    I don't know (hence the question mark) but the functionality is in the App and they are actively seeking operators who want to provide the data.

    https://maps.google.com/help/maps/mapcontent/transit/live-updates.html

     
  6. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    When it works. HCC admit they have a number of issues some years on and the data isn't in a format that's open, so you won't get live data on the many apps (or Google Maps) making it a bit of a joke.

    Their own app is awful and the websites terrible often having Google's own bus stop locations and secondary ones overlaid, that aren't even in the right position!

    There is also no way for HCC to show a bus that's cancelled and the way things are shown you don't even know what bus it is that the time is for.

    Finally their system still does some guesswork and can result in a bus showing as 9 minutes away then turning up in half that and making you miss it if you were silly enough to trust it.
     
  7. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    Some West Yorkshire TOCs have their own apps, but WY Metro have an overarching tracker that reports on most services:

    http://yournextbus.wymetro.com/?requestType=route&query=

    Either the unique bus stop number, or the service number can be used to search and once a stop is selected there is also a 'nearby stops' map that can be used. Additionally there are QR / NFC tags at bus stops that launch a mobile based site with the stop's live data. Generally speaking its not too bad, although some operators are more sketchy than others at ensuring that the GPS is active & updating the system with cancellations.

    In all honesty it could do with some work, and the operators could do more to ensure data is accurate but its good enough to get by most times. One of the best systems I've seen in recent times was on Oahu of all of the places. The mobile app was great for getting around the island, was based on Google maps with their own overlay showing stops, services calling at them an even the approximate location of each bus. Very handy for maximising the time visiting places and getting in that extra Mai Tai...!! :D
     
  8. Class 172 Fan

    Class 172 Fan Member

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    Rotala's Diamond Bus, Diamond Bus North West and Hotel Hoppa have it on their websites
     
  9. alchemy

    alchemy Member

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    Lothian has it and the tfeapp.com/live shows all buses on the network including Tours, East Coast Buses And Airport Services
    The mobile phone app will give you times at any bus stop and the vehicle fleet number of the due bus (also the next 2 0r 3)
     
  10. dgl

    dgl Member

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    Dorset have it through dorsetforyou.com/travel-Dorset .

    Works well for the bus stops in Weymouth where I have used it although the real time data is no longer there for First buses (probably due to the new ticketr machines not being on the system yet) and I'm not sure if south west coaches have it for their wyke buses.
     
  11. Andyh82

    Andyh82 Member

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    Go North East have real time on their new app, with a map that shows where all the buses are, theirs even shows the bus fleet numbers!
     
  12. Jordan Adam

    Jordan Adam Member

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    First Aberdeen has had it over 2 decades now. Stagecoach North Scotland started doing it too a few years back but with them it's more limited and only on certain buses (Generally buses 2014 or newer). In a case where a bus does not have it fitted the displays just show the same time as the timetable.

    Some of the AVL discs on the B10BLEs here actually came off Atlanteans!
     
  13. Hophead

    Hophead Member

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    Operations using Google Maps (times in green are real-time, at least on a PC):

    • TfL
    • Lothian
    • Arriva
    • Metrobus (but not all vehicles by any means)
    • Bluestar (also not all vehicles)

    Are there more? There must be.

    Brighton & Hove have a Google Map embedded on their website as well as an App. No idea why they can't make that available on the actual Google Maps.

    Metrobus also have a website map.
     
  14. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    West Yorkshire times appear on Google. Most buses are fitted with the equipment.
    I think all Transdev Yorkshire and Lancashire services do too.
     
  15. Hophead

    Hophead Member

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    I've just checked for Leeds - Arriva are there, but not First or Harrogate. We're talking real-time. Pretty much every scheduled departure throughout the UK can be found on Google.
     
  16. SCH117X

    SCH117X Member

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    Problem with RTT is when services get diverted; you still get told there will be a bus in x minutes from a stop that has not seen a bus all day. Some diversions are pretty standard so it should not be too difficult to set up diversionary data that can be activated simply so that the stops not being served gave out data to that effect.
     
  17. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    Thank you.

    I was aware of some of the original Countdown system as I worked for a company that was contacted to survey some of the bus stops proposed to have it at the time.
     
  18. JamesRowden

    JamesRowden Established Member

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    http://www.nextbuses.co.uk/
    This data is also shown in the traveline apps which use GPS to know where you are and so can easily find live departures from stops (including railway stations) nearby, and it can suggest routes by public transport to get to a destination from your present location.
     
  19. brompton rail

    brompton rail Member

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    In South Yorkshire real time bus times have been available for many years. First Bus’ app delivers their own services, but UK Bus Checker gives all operators at each bus stop, as well as rail departures if you click onto a station.

    The App will show a location map with bus stops and a list of bus stops with service numbers. Bus routes are also shown.
     
  20. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    All buses should be visible on the likes of Google Maps, which has excellent multi modal route planning. It falls apart when it has to guess things and could show services that don't exist.
     
  21. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Established Member

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    What does Google Maps guess? It's presenting data from the operators so as far as I can see it would only show services that don't exist if they supply incorrect data.
     
  22. ANDREW_D_WEBB

    ANDREW_D_WEBB Member

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    London Vehicle Finder at LVF.io now does Reading and Lothian as well.
     
  23. route101

    route101 Established Member

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    First Glasgow have it on there app but i think the only real time if the theres green icon and only shows i think within a timeframe otherwise time is in black . Last week before i left the house it said 8 minutes till bus due then jumped to 15 minutes once i got to bus stop , i dont know what happened there i live 15 mins from ther starting point .
    It would very useful if you could see your bus on google maps and if every bus was shown as real time .
     
  24. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    I know we're talking real time. I don't use First Leeds much, but see real-time on the X84 regularly and use First Halifax all the time. The 36 should be real time too. Most of my buses in Keighley work on it too. The system does seem to throw a wobbly every now and then and the realtime info doesn't get through - looks like it is now.
     
  25. takno

    takno Established Member

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    As far as I can see it pretty much guesses everything. I wouldn't trust a journey I'd planned with it for anything much
     
  26. ag51ruk

    ag51ruk Member

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    It doesn't guess, it uses the Traveline timetable data to show scheduled times, and real time info if provided by the operator. I've always found it accurate compared to the scheduled timetable.
     
  27. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Established Member

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    I wonder if takno realises scheduled times are shown in black and real-time data in green?
     
  28. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Google Maps doesn’t seem to be accurate in London at all, certainly when I’ve used it. It mixes timetabled times and realtime, and the realtime info is often wrong. I had a much longer wait the other day than Google Maps suggested. When I checked the normal app that I use (London Live) which gets its data from TfL APIs the bus was due in a longer time period and the bus showed up when London Live said it was due.

    Take the attached, not sure why it is giving a mixture of timetabled and realtime; the latter being slightly out (not as much as the other day!)
     

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  29. takno

    takno Established Member

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    I can't even get useful schedule information out of it. The integrations that operators do with it are often a bit shoddy because they've got to go to the trouble of getting the data into google's special snowflake format, whereas all the local sites just use it in the format it's in. Possibly as a result of that it's quite regularly lacking important routes or transport methods in various cities for no very good reason. It's also often not that hot for giving sensible interchange times, and all the disadvantages of its flaky walking route engine apply. It is rarely a more practical option than using the operator site or a local site for the area you are in.
     
  30. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Established Member

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    I was talking about tracking buses in real time rather than schedule data, journey planning or the quality of data for other modes.

    As ag51ruk says, Google take the schedule data from Traveline not direct from operators. How does the data quality compare between operators own sites, Traveline and Google Maps?
     

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