London Bus Pal

London Bus Pal v4.4.1

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Version 4.4.x introduces more bus information into London Bus Pal.

Firstly, I tried to keep the design of all of the functionality to ensure that it is unobtrusive to users not interested in the information, but still easily enough to access for those who are.

Changes which can be observed in the main functionality:

  • When searching for a specific bus, type-ahead is now available and the app will make suggestions when you start typing either a bus registration number or a fleet number. The type ahead information will also indicate the fleet number and operator.
  • Rather than just displaying a “no information or not running” message which is unclear, if you search for a bus and it is not in service, the app will show you this message quite clearly now.

New bus information screens:

  • Once you have found a bus, whether in service or not, you can access the information screens. For in-service buses, an information icon is now displayed in the top right-hand corner and for out of service buses, a clear button is available to show you bus information.
  • On the bus information screen, there are three tabs available:
    • Assembly: this tab gives information about the fleet number and operator. If additional information is available about the bus assembly (such as engine, number of doors, chassis etc), it will be displayed here.
    • Usage: this tab will show you which routes the bus has been used on over the last 7 days. Please note that these are estimates based on information interpreted from TfL. These numbers should be used as indicative rather than specific.
    • Photos: the photos tab will show you publicly available photos from Flickr for this bus.

This functionality is in a pilot phase at the moment and subject to change. I have some rough plans on what I want to do with this functionality in future, but the purpose of this pilot is to see what the uptake is like and then maybe expand it out a bit further.

At the time of writing this, we have the information available for over 10,000 buses. Only around 750 of those have missing assembly details and I expect to start completing this over the coming months (of course, this will be an ongoing task).

Some plans for the future which I may look at are:

  • Bus lists of interest (rare workings, new buses, old buses and so on).
  • Personal bus lists – ability to put buses into your own personal groups; this can then later be used to see where all these buses are.
  • Route information – based on the information collected at the moment, it becomes possible to see how many buses are working any route at a point in time
  • Crowd-sourcing vehicle information – all fleet number and operator data is currently managed by myself; this is not sustainable in the long-run.
  • And many other ideas (some which I just don’t want to mention right now or others which might come from my users).

The roll out of this version is underway at the moment. I am expecting the Android roll out to be complete in a couple of days and iOS might take a little bit longer due to Apple’s requirements (and a technical issue which I experienced trying to create a build).

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