London’s passenger watchdog has called on Transport for London to “reflect passengers’ priorities” when allocating funding to the transport network after it emerged the planned number of ‘Countdown’ displays at bus stops could be cut by almost half.
TravelWatch says recent research showed the Countdown system, which displays arrival information for buses, was a high priority for passengers but however the watchdog claims spending cuts within TfL could see numbers reduced from 4,000 to 2,500 and some existing displays removed or re-sited.
TfL say that advancements in technology will allow bus arrival information to be displayed “more locally and not just at bus stops” including at GP surgeries and public buildings. However the watchdog says it is “not convinced” by claims that these developments will reduce the need for the system.
Sharon Grant, Chair, London TravelWatch, said: “While mobile or internet technology is good for passengers, it is not a satisfactory alternative to information at bus stops. It is not always possible to get a signal, and phones can be far too fiddly to use with luggage or shopping. And of course, not everyone has access to phones or computers or finds them easy to use.”
Responding to Grant’s comments a Transport for London spokesperson said: “In the early days of planning the Countdown project there was a proposal for 4000 Countdown signs, this being the only effective way to supply bus arrival predictions at that time. As the project evolved our plans had to change to embrace advances in new technology, these improvements being able to deliver information more effectively and ultimately benefitting more passengers.
“Utilising this new technology the next generation of Countdown will be introduced from mid 2011. It will provide bus arrival predictions for every one of London’s 19,000 bus stops through a number of different methods, including text messages, Internet and mobile web platforms. A new generation of approximately 2500 Countdown signs, an increase of 500 from the current number, will be installed at strategic locations where they will provide the most benefit to the greatest number of passengers.”