Who actually looks at these?

When I first arrived in London, I was exceptionally impressed with these electronic billboards at most bus stops, apparently indicating the arrival of the next bus and it’s direction.
Not really using the buses that much, I kept my thoughts to just being impressed that this can actually be done.
I was soon to realise however, that obviously these signs were put up purely for entertainment. I am yet to find one which is actually accurate.
Thinking about it some more, one’s logic tells one that there is no way they can actually know when the next bus is due down to the minute, given London traffic and all other things thrown in the path of an orderly bus timetable.
I am now rather suspicious that my initial techie thoughts about how this worked are not entirely correct: I always thought they had a little transmitter on each bus and it just sorta connected with the bus stop as the bus went on its merry way. Surely this would be the easiest way to do this…just a simple little radio transmitter.
But then again, I am now rather convinced a lot of sterling has been spent on a project I can imagine spawning many project managers and involving very complicated mathematical calculations overlayed with routemaps, lists of influencing factors and so on. I am pretty sure they even had people on buses with timers at all times of the day to work out average times per route. Then they probably just programmed it into these red boxes and thought they did a good job.
Sorry for rattling on there. Sometimes it’s just best to keep things simple.
But I still enjoy these signs. (It can be rather boring at a bus stop in London. Mostly, for a very long time.) They make me imagine all the ways this system could have worked so much better.
– Riaan

2 Comments so far

  1. livinglikeadisaster (unregistered) on July 12th, 1904 @ 4:09 am

    i love those things! even if theyre wrong!! i was always really impressed when i first discovered them too. secretly i still am.

  2. (unregistered) on July 13th, 1904 @ 3:16 am

    Well ill just like to say I thought the same about the radio thing, but I have to say theyve always been right for me, Even if it pre-empts it by say 5minutes its nice to have some reassurance that you can read a timetable.

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