Room on top – London buses to get smart maps and seat indicators

london bus parliament big benThere are plenty of people that find London’s buses tiresome and, ignoring the issues of sharing space with other travellers, the problems of not knowing when to get off for your stop when heading somewhere new and if there’s any space upstairs (on double-deckers obvs) before risking the climb must count as the top pair. These irritants may be solved soon.

Transport for London get’s a lot of stick but if, like me, you’ve lived on the outskirts of a town or in a village then having 4 buses go past your stop every hour is a luxury and having your tube delayed by 5 minutes won’t induce severe sighing.

One minor irritant is not knowing if there are any seats free on the upper deck of a bus and thus save a trek up only to have to make your way back down again whilst the bus is in motion.

seat countThe smart seating will come way of utilising the existing cameras on the upper decks, working in tandem with image recognition software, rather than outfitting the seating with clever and expensive sensors. This will count which seats have a person sitting in them and is no more invasive than current CCTV systems working on buses. The results would be shown at the bottom of the stairs and thus saving you the embarrassment of dropping your kebab on the stairs when you have to turn around and go back down.

tfl smart bus mapThe development that I most applaud though is the smart map. Sometimes (most of the time) asking your fellow bus riders, or even the driver, what the best stop to get off at for a particular place isn’t the easiest thing to do but thanks to live route information beamed to a screen in the wheelchair/pram bay will surely help out.

The screen will display where the next stop is on a moving map, as well as how long it will take to get there. Giving information on nearby landmarks it’ll also offer live travel alerts for tube lines – handy if your planned stop involved hopping on the tube.

The live maps are already in action on a few select test buses, while a few buses on the Number 12 route will get the seat counter within the next fortnight.