#phantombuses: How real are the Real Time Information screen announcements at bus stops?

While public transport authority Centro have said there are over 600 bus stops in Birmingham with Real Time Information (RTI) screens, information is not available on how many of them are functioning.

To find out more about the state of maintenance of these screens, recently Brum Transport tried out #phantombuses  – a crowd sourced experiment at gathering real time data on bus stops in the city.

We liveblogged our observations from these four different locations in the city:

These included:

  • Arrival times announced on the RTI screens

 

  • Mysterious disappearances of the bus numbers from the screens

 

  • Time when buses actually turned up at the stops

 

  • Faulty RTI screens at bus stops:

While some of these bus stops had the RTI screens, other bus users relied on the Network West Midlands phone app, some others had only the paper timetable at the bus stops to refer to.

The data on the number of bus stops was revealed through a freedom of information (FOI) request filed earlier by Brum Transport.

(The FOI figures here referring to ‘Birmingham’ include the city centre and the wider Birmingham area.)

Another round of #phantombuses due to traffic gridlock

A large number of commuters were left staring at bus stop Real Time Information screens and mobile phone apps as the traffic came to a grinding halt this afternoon.

About an hour later it was confirmed by the National Express twitter updates that there has been a gridlock in the city with the emergency landing of an air ambulance near the Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

 

 

Despite repeated attempts, there were no comments or confirmation available from the West Midlands Ambulance Service press office on this. Here is what commuters said on twitter:  

Most of the tweets and pictures today afternoon were sent by Lois Stanley, a commuter who has been a part of the crowd sources #phantombuses initiative for two weeks now.

LIVE from the Monday traffic after A38 closure (for @bbcwm)

I’m travelling on buses from the Grey Hound stadium in Perry Barr to the city centre to find out how the traffic has been affected on this route by the A38 tunnel closure.

Park and ride details at bus stops

Audio: Are information screens at bus stops working?

Bus

Regional transport authority Centro, responsible for bus stops in the city, spends over 100,000 pounds annually on the maintenance of the Real Time Information (RTI) screens at bus stops. This budget covers about 1500 screens in the West Midlands region covered by Centro.

But are these screens functioning? I found out what the commuters think of them and what Centro has to say about the matter.