Futuristic digital displays to be trialled on London 63 bus route
Digital displays that show whether buses have spare seats are to be trialled on London’s most futuristic bus route.
The improvements to route 63 are part of a wider roll-out of real-time bus information that will include more than 300 new Countdown signs across the capital by the end of the year.
Other changes include the introduction of “greyscale” information signs – which look similar to a giant Kindle e-reader – on bus-stop poles that “talk” to passengers with visual impairments.
Buses on route 63, which runs between King’s Cross and Honor Oak, already operates with zero exhaust-emission electric double deckers that have phone chargers at every seat, a “sunroof” and wood effect flooring.
Bus stops along the route are to be fitted with digital colour TV-style display screens inside the bus shelter. These will provide additional live mapping and wider travel information in addition to the traditional Countdown arrival times of the next buses.
The screens will display every stop on the bus route. A future upgrade will display the live location of each bus on the route, together with an indication of how busy it is on board.
The battery-powered “greyscale” signs will display live bus arrival times, digital timetables and route maps – replacing the paper signs concealed behind plastic that are currently in use.
Passengers will be able to push a button for an audio announcement of the time until the next bus arrives.
Transport for London is introducing the changes in a bid to encourage more passengers back to the buses.
The total number of Countdown boards in London will increase by 12 per cent, with more in every borough.
Mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged to expand the bus network in outer London alongside the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone to the Greater London boundary.
Outer London boroughs such as Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Hillingdon and Barking & Dagenham, where there are fewer Countdown boards, will be among the areas to benefit most.
Louise Cheeseman, TfL’s director of buses, said the changes would help to make the bus the “natural choice” when the Ulez expanded on August 29.
She said: “We know that customers highly value real-time information on when their next bus in coming. It helps them get where they need to be in the quickest time possible, or know they have time to nip into the shops.
“We are now looking at the next generation of technology, using the route 63 as a pilot. It is all part of our Bus Action Plan, which is aimed at increasing the number of people on buses, particularly in outer London.”
Seb Dance, the deputy mayor for transport said: “Sadiq has already announced 1.1m km of new bus routes in outer London, and these new technological improvements will make it even easier for Londoners to get around the capital, providing them with real-time information to make their journey as seamless as possible.”