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John Paschoud

Lots of bus services in London run to a scheduled service frequency ("about every 10 minutes"), and London traffic often means that delays are outside the control of TfL or the bus companies. What passengers need is accurate information about which bus is coming and when, so they can take decisions about whether to walk, take a different route to complete part of their journey, or wait. Displays on all stops are technically possible but TfL are now only planning to fit them to a small proportion of stops.

Problem History

  • 1 John Paschoud reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 11:37 14 Jul 2011
  • 2 John Paschoud wrote to Transport for London close 11:37 14 Jul 2011

    Here is the letter that John Paschoud wrote.

    This stop has no Countdown display

    This stop is used by many commuters, on two routes (122 and 185) which run only to a service frequency (not a timetable). People who are catching a bus to join a train (at Forest Hill Station) need to know whether to wait, or walk.

  • 3 [email address] responded to John Paschoud close 11:43 14 Jul 2011
    Thank you for your email. We can now confirm that this has been

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  • 4 Tom Steinberg advised John to write to Emer Coleman. close 12:26 14 Jul 2011

    Hi John,

    I know she's not exactly in charge of TfL's budgets, but Emer Coleman is a great champion of more open data inside the Mayor's office. Why don't you drop her a mail to see what she thinks is going on with the digital signs? I know I'm on your side on this one - I was just cursing the lack at a london stop yesterday.

    Good luck!

    Tom Steinberg

  • 5 Dave McKee commented close 15:56 15 Jul 2011

    Does the live data exist to make a convenient app for this?
    Obviously, it doesn't help people who haven't got a smartphone, but it might well be a cheaper alternative.

  • 6 Patrick Craston commented close 09:45 18 Jul 2011

    As far as I know TFL have not yet released live data on buses via an API.

    A project at rewired state built a proof of concept app showing what this could look like: (and for TFL's press release)

    It does say that TFL were planning something for 2011 but there doesn't seem to be any live bus feed data at

    An app that shows the user on a map where the bus that he/she is currently waiting for is would be really useful (more useful that live tube data actually since there is no mobile reception in the tube anyway!). Let's hope TFL responds to this.

  • 7 John Paschoud commented close 11:14 18 Jul 2011

    TfL are (slowly and painfully) announcing dates by which they expect to have live bus running data available and published. I have a meeting later today with the Countdown programme manager (in response to my FoI request for the programme plan documentation).

  • 8 John Paschoud added an update close 00:18 19 Jul 2011

    Simon Reed (Head of Technical Services Group) at TfL predicts installation of Countdown2 displays, and launch of SMS and web (incl mobile-web) apps for bus RTI in September 2011, with availability of a full data feed for third-party apps "4 to 5 months later".

  • 9 [email address] responded to John Paschoud close 14:04 23 Jul 2011
    Our ref: 1009185750/TL

    Date: 15.07.2011

    Dear John

    Request for a Countdown sign to be installed

    Thank you for your feedback regarding the above. I am grateful
    for the time you have taken to get in touch.

    Following the 100% roll-out of iBus across London's bus network,
    Transport for London are now turning its attention towards
    improving the current Countdown system.

    The new and improved Countdown system is the next step in London
    Buses' provision of real time bus service information to our
    passengers. Bus users will be able to access bus arrival time
    predictions for every one of the 19,000 bus stops and all 700
    routes in London via the internet and mobile phones. This
    service will be complemented by a new generation of Countdown
    signs which will provide real time information at selected bus
    stops across London.

    TfL plan to provide 2,500 new Countdown signs, commencing from
    Spring 2011, and will not be installing any further Countdown
    signs until then. The selection of stops to be fitted will be
    based upon a selection strategy in which every stop will be
    assessed against a range of criteria, for example the number of
    passengers using a stop and its proximity to population centres,
    key transport interchanges or major local services (schools,
    hospitals, etc.). All stops across the London bus network have
    been considered as part of this stop selection process. The
    location of on-street Countdown signs will be finalised
    following discussions with the London boroughs.

    However, you will be pleased to know that I have forwarded your
    suggestion to our Countdown team for future consideration.

    Thank you once again for taking the time to write. If you have
    any queries in the future please feel free to contact me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Tess Lotter
    Customer Service Advisor

    DO NOT DELETE.............................
    DO NOT DELETE.............................

    Original Text

    From: [email address]
    To: [Transport for London problem reporting email] <[email address]>
    Sent: 14.07.11 11:40:03
    Subject: Problem Report: This stop has no Countdown display

    Dear Transport for London,

    The problem report below has been sent to you via the website

    It refers to a problem at the Forest Hill Fire Station bus/tram


    From: John Paschoud, <[install Countdown displays on all possible London bus stops email]>

    Subject: This stop has no Countdown display


    This stop is used by many commuters, on two routes (122 and 185)
    which run only to a service frequency (not a timetable). People
    are catching a bus to join a train (at Forest Hill Station) need
    know whether to wait, or walk.



    Location name: Forest Hill Fire Station

    Location ATCO code: 490006920W


    Indicator: Stop N

    Bearing: W

    Easting: 535959.0

    Northing: 173283.0



    Sender: [install Countdown displays on all possible London bus stops email]

    PLEASE NOTE: Your replies to this problem report WILL BE



    [ This message was sent via - a
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  • 10 John Paschoud added an update close 10:15 24 Jul 2011

    TfL has sent the standard reply to my request - but this is already out of date and the Countdown allocation policy to which it refers has be changed (by Mayor Boris). It doesn't promise that they'll install a Countdown display at the bus stop I requested.

  • 11 Myf Nixon commented close 14:26 25 Jul 2011

    Hello John - Myf from mySociety here.

    Good luck with your continuing efforts to get countdown displays installed.
    This is just to let you know that has now quietly turned from a beta site into a public one, so you can link to the page and gather support among friends and family if you'd like to.

    Our social media buttons are now fully functional, so why not give them a go and see if you can spread the word a bit?

    We'd love to know any further thoughts you have about the site, too - we're still actively making changes based on user suggestions. Just use the 'feedback' button at the top of each page.

    Thanks again for being one of FixMyTransport's first users - hope it turns out to be a useful tool for you.

  • 12 Felicity Groombridge commented close 20:56 09 Sep 2011

    May be worth checking out the link below - Countdown information now available to PCs and smartphones on a trial pending full release later in 2011:

  • 13 John Paschoud added an update close 12:44 12 Sep 2011

    The beta online Countdown ( is brilliant! I've used it for a couple of journeys during the past week. It only solves the problem for browser-enabled phones; and I'm waiting to see how the backend resources will cope with real demand... but TfL definitely deserves some applause for this!

  • 14 Carl Partridge commented close 23:08 25 Sep 2011

    This might put an end to your woes John - your own bus countdown board in your pocket! Although you do need an iPhone...

  • 15 John Paschoud commented and marked the problem as fixed. close 08:42 26 Jan 2012

    Well, sort-of fixed, in that the information is now available at all stops, for free to anyone with a web-capable phone or tablet (and for 12p-a-look via SMS). This works pretty well considering the scale of TfL's operation. We still want them to release a query interface so that third party apps can use the live data for interesting new purposes; but I can see why they need to be careful about system capacity before doing that.

  • started 14 July 2011
  • supporters 12
Forest Hill Fire Station (Stop N) bus stop in Honor Oak Park
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