13th Jun 2018
Transport for London (TfL) has launched a new automatic passenger counting trial on its buses to help improve services.
TfL already uses various methods to monitor service usage, including Oyster and contactless payment data and manual paper surveys, but this new initiative aims to offer further insight into real-time commuter numbers.
The three-month trial, which began on 8 June, has been rolled out on seven buses across five London bus routes; 55, 47, 222, 507 and 521. During this period, TfL will use several different methods to collect data, including: cameras aimed across the bus floor to monitor passengers getting on and off; sensors over each door; real-time analysis of existing CCTV footage; analysis of changes to bus weight and air pressure; and WiFi data collection. TfL has stressed that all WiFi data collected during the trial will be depersonalised at the point of collection, and that no browsing data will be collected or any individuals identified.
The results should, in theory, help TfL to improve its services by providing customers with up-to-date travel information to help them plan their journeys.
“Technology is transforming our lives and creating huge potential to improve how we use and operate public transport,” said Simon Reed, head of surface technology and data at TfL. “This short trial is an exciting opportunity to make it easier for everyone to use buses in London.”
The move could also help passengers identify available accessible space for pushchairs and wheelchairs, something which has been welcomed by Steve Chambers, public transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport.
“It is really good to see the latest bus technology being trialled in London, with the potential to allow passengers to make informed choices about their journeys based on how busy each upcoming bus will be,” he said. “Disabled passengers who require the accessible space could have the most to gain from the deployment of enhanced passenger information following the successful conclusion of this trial.”