Coach Times..

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mralexn

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I know this is RAIL, Forums :P but, This is my question,

I know on the railway, we have Live Departure Boards, and Open Train Times, to track the progress of trains online.

I was wondering, is there anything similar to this for Coaches ?

A google search brings up pretty much nothing,
 
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Eagle

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Well live rail times are provided by trains activating track circuits around the country, and/or by rail staff manually updating it as they see the train. There's no realistic way you could implement a system like that for coaches (you can hardly bury coach-detecting circuits in the road, and other than large bus stations there are no staff to see the coach as it progresses).

A GPS-based system however, like the ones used by some buses, should be possible, but I've not heard of one (it'll be up to the coach operating companies to fit GPS tracking to their coaches).
 

mralexn

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Well live rail times are provided by trains activating track circuits around the country, and/or by rail staff manually updating it as they see the train. There's no realistic way you could implement a system like that for coaches (you can hardly bury coach-detecting circuits in the road, and other than large bus stations there are no staff to see the coach as it progresses).

A GPS-based system however, like the ones used by some buses, should be possible, but I've not heard of one (it'll be up to the coach operating companies to fit GPS tracking to their coaches).

The GPS system does seem like a good idea, Don't most trains have GPS built in, Is it GPS that activates the "automated" "the next station is.." Announcements?
 

Eagle

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Is it GPS that activates the "automated" "the next station is.." Announcements?

Usually (although some older trains do it from the train's odometer instead).

But LDBs take their information from track circuits and such, which are more reliable and don't require any equipment to be on a train.
 

mralexn

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How about more "detailed Timings" ie when a coach is due "past" a certain place, not "live" but just some guidance etc.. but then again thats looking like a Staff only kind of thing.
 

bus man

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The operators may be able to know where the coaches are and like some bus ops , have the routes set up so if it is running late or is off route then it flags it in the controll room.

It can become too much for bus operators if for example you get snow and the entire network is delayed and the computer system keeps telling you that bus x is 20 min late and hasnt moved for 15 min and then goes through the entire fleet - at this point the computer is seen flying through the nearest window
 

bluenoxid

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Surely the coach operators need to sort out a nationwide timetable book before trying to get some kind of ldb system running.
 

aformeruser

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I can't see a national coach timetable being produced, it would require private operators to work together when they don't need to.

Perhaps the biggest barrier to GPS coach tracking is the fact that there are designated National Express / Megabus etc. vehicles and other vehicles that fill in for them. Is a National Express franchise operator really going to fit GPS to their non-National Express coaches for the odd occasion where one fills in for a National Express coach?

With trains they are all tracked. There isn't much to be gained by tracking a coach being used on a school trip. If the children are going to be late home the teacher can phone the school, they don't need the GPS tracking.
 
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starrymarkb

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Surely the coach operators need to sort out a nationwide timetable book before trying to get some kind of ldb system running.

There is the National Coach Services Database. It has most operators listed and is used by Traveline and Transport Direct. Have a look at one of the better Traveline sites (ie South East) and enter a coach number or town and it will show things like National Express, Megabus, New Bharat, Berry's Superfast, Greyhound etc)
 

Ze Random One

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There are two points to make here:

1. The lack of real time information -
Because the routeing and safety margins of trains are determined by someone/something external to the train itself (i.e., the signaller) robust methods of determining and communicating the location of every train (to within the appropriate safety margin) have necessarily been developed. A nice by-product of this is the ability for the signalling system to impart this information to the customers using information screens. However, the real-time information feeds we get are merely a convenient byproduct, which is also why they work so badly in times of significant disruption (the information screens only know a subset of the information that the signallers know).

For a coach or bus, fundamentally, for routeing and safety purposes, the only person that needs to know where the bus is is the driver. Any real time system would be a significant, and fundamentally unneccessary, addition to the existing infrastructure in place to support the coaches.

Since the coach companies are operating in a substantially unregulated market, all they do, and all they can care about is their bottom line. NX, Megabus, et al. exist to make a profit, and that alone. Any other behaviour (transporting passengers) is a byproduct of their main purpose, making money. Now, there are some customer service aspects which will help them make more money, so they will do this, even if it costs them in overheads in the short term. Real time information is apparently not one of those things that they believe their customer base cares about enough to make the difference between buying that coach ticket and not buying it.

2. Timetables.

As has been said above, Coach timetables are available in all of the Traveline databases. If you want a PDF timetable, may I suggest going here: http://www.travelinesoutheast.org.uk/se/XSLT_SELTT_REQUEST?language=en
and typing in the route number or destination
 
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