New real-time information signs and technology to make bus travel easier in London

01 March 2023

From today (Wednesday 1 March), TfL will begin installing a wave of new bus Countdown boards across every borough in the capital. More than 300 additional signs will be in place by the end of the year, boosting the overall number of boards by 12 per cent. The signs are a simple and reliable way of helping Londoners get from A to B by bus. Knowing exactly when the next bus is coming helps to make public transport an easier and more attractive option.

The Countdown signs are well established in the capital and are valued by customers for the certainty they give, while also improving accessibility for those without smart phones. The information points will be installed in outer London boroughs such as Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Hillingdon and Barking & Dagenham as part of the Mayor's wider package of improvements to the bus network, including a million extra bus kilometres. Increased and improved bus services will help encourage more people to use public transport ahead of the ULEZ expansion in August this year.

TfL is also trialling a number of new innovative screens on the route 63 between King's Cross and Honor Oak. This trial reflects the growing demand for a wider range of real-time information, giving customers greater control over their journeys. New digital colour displays within bus shelters will give customers the same live bus arrival information that is offered on Countdown signs, alongside a variety of other live mapping and travel information including any disruptions and diversions. Customers are given up-to-the-second information on bus delays and updates on the rest of the TfL network. Before boarding the bus, passengers can also view every stop that they'll be taken to on their chosen route. In the future, these displays will be able to show the live location of all buses as they move along the route and even inform how busy it is on board.

TfL is also trialling new information displays which are attached onto the bus stop pole itself. The device is battery-powered and in greyscale, saving energy. It allows customers to view live bus arrival times, digital timetables and route maps, and the displays are mounted at a suitable height for wheelchair users. Live bus arrival information can also be activated as an audio announcement at the push of a button, improving the travelling experience for all customers, including those with visual impairments.

These pioneering developments will help to support more people using the bus more often across London, complementing the Mayor's commitment to the biggest ever expansion of the bus network in outer London, maximising the potential benefits of the ULEZ and strengthening alternatives to driving. The developments include three new routes in Sutton, new zero emission cross-river services in east London, subject to consultation, a high-frequency, limited-stop service between Grove Park and Canary Wharf and an extension to the route 129 (Lewisham-North Greenwich) to Great Eastern Quay via the Royal Docks. Further expansion is also planned in Havering, Brent Cross, Southall and Haringey.

TfL has set out its long-term vision for buses in its Bus Action Plan. The plan aims to increase the number of customers choosing to travel by bus across London and make the network zero carbon by 2030. This will involve creating a service that supports independent and spontaneous travel with improved customer information. Those using the bus will see faster journeys with bus speeds improved by 10 per cent and an additional 25km of new bus lanes. There will be improved connections with better interchanges in outer London and London residents will remain close to a stop. There are already more than 900 zero emission buses out on the city's streets, with plans for the whole fleet to be converted by 2030, subject to Government funding.  

Seb Dance, Deputy Mayor for Transport said: "As part of his decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide, the Mayor is committed to improving and expanding London's bus network to help build a better, fairer city for all Londoners.

"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."

Louise Cheeseman, TfL's Director of Buses, 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 lets them know they have time to nip into the shops. We are pleased to be able to install these new Countdown boards across the capital, as they have long proven to be popular with the millions of passengers that catch the bus each day.

"We are now looking at the next generation of technology, using the route 63 as a pilot. We are looking to transform the experience of how people get from A to B and make the network even more accessible. It is all part of our Bus Action Plan, which is aimed at increasing the number of people on buses, particularly in outer London. The million extra bus kilometres the Mayor has committed to, and our comprehensive travel information, will make the bus the natural choice when the ULEZ expands London-wide."

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Climate and Air Quality at the London Borough of Waltham Forest, said: "I am delighted to hear that TfL is continuing to invest in improving the bus network across London, making it easier and more convenient for Londoners to travel by bus.

"The addition of over 300 new bus Countdown boards by the end of the year, including in Waltham Forest, will provide greater certainty for passengers and will continue to make public transport a more attractive option, particularly in outer London.

"I applaud TfL for its commitment to improving public transport in London, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact that these initiatives will have on the lives of Londoners."

Cllr Jo Blackman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Civic Pride at Redbridge Council, said: "The introduction of countdown timers is a really positive step that will help local people plan their journeys more effectively.

"Redbridge is home to a vast network of bus routes, and improvements to bus stops, like the inclusion of more countdown timers, should make taking public transport easier than ever."

Notes to editors

The sites were identified and chosen based on data including boarding figures and proximity to other key services such as transport interchanges, while also ensuring an even balance in the distribution of signs across London