Last year, TfL started a trial of a technology that can tell people how many seats are available on the upper deck of a bus. It ran on just the one bus on route 141 during the trial.


Now, TfL has announced that it will be expanding the trial to an entire bus route — although not the one used for the initial trial.

Bus passengers travelling on route 59, which runs between Kings Cross and Streatham Hill will also now be able to get on a bus, glance at a screen and see if there are spare seats upstairs without having to pop up for a look. It also confirms if there are two seats next to each other, so that a couple can sit on the same bench rather than being separated, or hoping that someone will take pity on their discomfort.

The system analyses information from the on board CCTV system, and TfL said that the aim is to encourage people to go upstairs when seats are available, rather than standing on the lower level and clogging up the doorways.

TfL said that route 59 has been identified as a busy route where crowding can be an issue making it an ideal test route for this trial.

Simon Reed, TfL’s Head of Technical Services Group, said: “As we expand this trial we will be able to learn more about how it will work on a large scale and what kind of impact it will have on our passenger’s experience.”

Read more about the technology here


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  1. Long Branch Mike says:

    Great idea, and I hope it’s successful.

  2. Grammar pedant says:

    and what kind of impact it will have on our passenger’s experience.

    It’s a shame they only have one passenger.

  3. LadyBracknell says:

    I rarely go upstairs these days. Going up is okay, but down is precarious for me and I think that accounts for a lot of the empty seats upstairs whilst downstairs maybe crowded.

  4. Gerry says:

    In the early 1970s, Bournemouth’s Yellow Buses had 7-segment filamentary displays showing how many seats were available upstairs. Pressure switches under the stair treads detected whether each passenger was going up or down and incremented the count accordingly.

    It was simple, and it worked well.

    40 years later, it seems that we’re trying to re-invent the wheel !

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