Bus information on the Internet is normally provided either by the bus operator or by a (local or otherwise) government authority; sometimes by both.
Information about buses delivered by the Internet is normally in one of the following categories:
- “Trip Planner” software;
- Downloadable and printable bus timetables and/or bus maps, usually as part of an “enterprise-wide” website;
- “Departure Boards”, giving times of buses from a particular stop (sometimes as Real Time information); Google Transit includes such information;
- Interactive systems, often map-based, including some or all of the above elements, plus others such as local mapping; and/or
- Information about comprehensive fare systems (typically smartcards).
It is quite common to combine the first two items above on one website. Items 2 and 3 are relatively straightforward, and are in effect additions to the basic Trip Planner; this page concentrates on items 1 and 4 above.
For a good “enterprise wide” website, see Lothian Buses’ website.
Best Practice in Trip Planners
In the UK the national system is Transport Direct, set up by the national government at a cost of some £45m. This includes all public transport in the UK, including internal air services and ferries, both in cities and inter-urban. It also has a facility for planning road trips; the intention, however, is to encourage use of public transport. A second UK-wide system, Traveline, caters more for local journeys and is supported financially by transport operators. Traveline is essentially a collection of 12 local trip planners, although with considerable overlap.
MentzDV has links to a large number of other planners around the world on its website. A number of other suppliers offer similar systems, including Google Transit. Vix Technology (formerly ACIS) also supply a number of Journey planners worldwide.
Best Practice in Map-based Interactive Route Planners
Offerings in this respect are much more varied. The following examples have some good features and are well worth examination;
RATP, the Paris transport operator, has a series of interactive maps (in three languages) covering public transport in Paris and Île-de-France. This site is exceptional; it provides a wealth of information, including individual route maps, timetables, Real-Time bus departures, information on service disruptions and local mapping. Furthermore, the information is fairly easy to understand, and in large measure intuitive. By selecting two places on the bus map (using the shift key), all routes from each of the places are highlighted – this makes it possible to plan a route involving interchange. The same site also carries excellent static maps.
View Interactive Paris Bus Map
View Interactive Paris PT Map
Southern Vectis (bus operator), Isle of Wight (UK) interactive bus map – simple and easy, shows routes and headways by mouse-over on the map, full timetables available at a mouse-click. This area is very popular with tourists, at whom this site is largely aimed.
Den Haag (Holland) – interactive map of bus routes (Dutch only)
London bus interactive map; not so many features as the Paris version, but a lot simpler to use.
London tube interactive map showing bus connections from each station (may not work properly with some browsers).
Tompkins County (NY) map enabling user to overlay selected bus routes on a street map background.