London Assembly members have been told that a lack of funds makes it unlikely that further Countdown displays will be installed at the capital’s bus stops.
Popular with many passengers, the displays provide real-time arrival and service information for each route serving a given stop. Roll-out of the screens has halted in recent years, with TfL encouraging passengers to instead use mobile apps and SMS updates to check arrival times.
However some bus users, including older Londoners, lack access or prefer to not use smartphones and TfL’s pushing of mobile technology clashes with the Metropolitan Police’s advice to “try and avoid standing at the bus stop with your phone out.”
— Islington MPS (@MPSIslington) 11 January 2017
At a meeting of the Assembly transport committee on Wednesday, Leon Daniels, head of TfL’s surface transport division, told AMs that while the agency would seek to maintain the current number of displays, “there is no funding for more” to be rolled out.
Mr Daniels added that he and TfL recognised some passengers lack a smartphone and said third parties such as colleges and owners of popular venues were able to provide funding for the installation of displays where they felt it would aid their customers and users.
TfL is currently trialling the use of cheaper battery operated displays which can be fitted to bus stops without the need for an electrical power supply to be installed, potentially allowing real-time data to be provided to more users without the costs associated with Countdown.
During the meeting AMs also heard that Mayor Sadiq Khan’s new Hopper bus fare, which allows passengers to switch buses for free within one hour of catching their first bus, was changing how passengers used the network.
Daniels said that instead of waiting for their preferred bus and travelling direct to their destination, Hopper meant increasing numbers of passengers were taking the first bus available knowing that they were able to change mid-route without incurring a second fare.
He added that this not only improved their journey times but also reduced demand for certain services at busier stops.