#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.)

Network West Midlands say they already have their data open for developers

Public transport authority, Centro have said that they already have their data available to open data users.

Reacting to a guest post on Brum Transport about Network West Midlands opening up their raw dataCentro spokesman Steve Swingler said:

“We make our data available in a number of ways. Data such as the NaPTAN bus stop location information is made available through data.gov.uk.”

data

The NaPTAN data “uniquely identifies” all points of access to public transport in Great Britain.

He further added:

“Bus departure information both scheduled and real time departures is captured in the TravelineNextBuses API which is available through NextBuses.

By making our data available in this way Centro is maintaining the national standard for the provision of this type of information.”

Through an earlier guest post from Simon Whitehouse on Brum Transport, we were trying to look at the possibility of opening up transport data in the West Midlands.

This could enable developers to build more applications, websites and mobile services and get creative with data.

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.