Location services

I’ve received a number of questions asking how best to get location services to work on our website.

There are various features in the site which can make use of your location to save time and help you find your way around;

  • Journey Planner – Has a ‘Use my location’ option when you start to enter a ‘from’ or ‘to’ point as part of planning a journey.
  • ‘Nearby’ – Starts by trying to use your location when you select Nearby from the homepage. It can then show you all forms of transport around you with live arrivals and status.
  • Find a bus stop – This offers a ‘Use my location’ option when you try to find a bus stop from the Buses landing page.

There are various other places where this is offered, for example in the Maps area.

What do I need to do to get location services working?

The website uses the location services of your phone or computer. Typically this requires you to be using a mobile phone connection or wifi. It will not normally work well (or at all) on a corporate office network.

The device needs to have location services enabled. In the case of Android devices and iPhones this can be done in the phone settings.

Once that’s done selecting ‘Nearby’ on our website should bring up a message in your browser asking if you will allow your location to be used. On iPhones this appears in the middle of the screen.

Location message on Nearby

Location message on Nearby

 

On Android devices it appears at the foot of the screen and can sometimes be obscured by the keyboard. If it is obscured then select the ‘back’ button and the keyboard should disappear leaving you to respond to the message.

‘Nearby’ and other location elements should now work. You may get asked for permission again from time to time depending on your browser.

What if it’s still not working?

On some browsers we’ve seen a problem where accessing the site over https (an encrypted connection) location services (and some other mapping elements) do not work correctly.

This can be resolved by accessing the site over http (unencrypted) – using the link http://www.tfl.gov.uk.

From time to time stored website pages and cookies can cause a problem. You can clear these through your browser settings on an Android phone, within settings choose ‘clear browsing data’. On an iPhone you need to go into the general settings of the phone and find those for Safari to ‘clear history and website data’.

Clear history and data from Safari

We really value your feedback – particularly if you have issues using location services within the website. You can leave your comments on this blog.

Live bus arrivals

You will see a change shortly as we migrate from using the older bus arrivals service at m.countdown.tfl.gov.uk to the new one.

When we launched the site we had some reliability problems with the new live arrivals service. We decided it was best to revert back to the older version until we had ironed everything out. It’s now ready to be switched on and this change will happen very shortly.

How will I get to live bus arrivals now?

There are many ways to get live bus arrivals in the website, here are the main ones;

  1. Homepage ‘Live arrivals’ button - This will take you to a page where you can enter any route or stop and get live arrivals. It gives live information for Tube, Trams and River services too.
  2. Buses landing page ‘Find a bus stop or route’ – On the buses landing page, once we’ve switched over, you’ll be able to enter a route number and choose the direction to get a list of stops. Selecting a stop gives you live arrivals.
  3. ‘Nearby’ button on homepage – Hitting the ‘Nearby’ button will look up your location (you may need to allow the browser to use your location). It will then show you all the stops and stations around you on a map and in a list. By selecting any of these you will get the arrivals and status. If the device can’t recognise your location then you can type it in.
  4. Homepage favourite stops (shown below) – On each bus stop page there is a favourites icon (a star). If you select this it will pin that bus stop to the website homepage on the device you are using. If you scroll down on the homepage you will see these favourites and can get to that stop with one click for live arrivals.
  5. Homepage recent stops – The homepage keeps a record of recently selected stops, you can then reach them with one click.
Homepage with favourite bus stops

Homepage showing favourite and recent bus stops

What happens from here?

One of the strengths of the new site is that it is a one stop shop for information, bringing together different forms of transport. This brings a constant challenge to retain the simplicity and directness of each individual tool.

We are looking at how we can make things simpler and easier for the most common user journeys such as checking a bus arrival, planning journeys and checking fares. The site is a living thing and we are constantly adding to it and making improvements.

We’re really interested to have your views on these services. Feel free to comment on this blog to let us know what you think.

Don’t forget you can also get live bus arrivals on one of the numerous smartphone apps which are powered by our open data, available from all the popular app stores.

TfL Widgets – Latest Updates


This blog looks at TfL’s widgets and Open Data for developers, including our recent improvements. Get your website looking great with our redesigned Journey Planner widget!

What is a widget ?
A “widget” is a stand-alone application that can be embedded into third party sites by any user on a page where they have rights of authorship. Widgets can be considered as a downloadable small application which look and act like traditional apps, but are implemented using web technologies and our API.

What’s new ?
In October 2014, we re-designed our journey planner widget and banner to give them the same look and feel as our new website. The new widget also has email authentication built in so that we can get in touch with you quicker in future if we intend to change the widgets.

This is our brand new design for the TfL JP widget, which is now available for download.

This is our brand new design for the TfL JP widget, which is now available for download.

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Journey Planner and Airports

In this post, I’m taking a look at how Journey Planner provides information on travelling to airports. This is very topical at the moment, with London Travel Watch (LTW) producing a report called Improving Public Transport Access to London Airports earlier this month. The report is available to download from this page.

For several years, the different airlines at Heathrow have been available as Points of Interest within Journey Planner. This means customers can enter their airline name to be routed directly to check-in, without needing to check which terminal they are flying from.  This information fully reflects the latest moves into Terminal 2.

The different airlines at Heathrow are included as Points of Interest within Journey Planner

The different airlines at Heathrow are included as Points of Interest, so you can be routed directly to check-in. 

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Journey Planner and Accessibility

Myself and the Journey Planner team all attended the Access All Areas event at ExCeL London at the start of this month, which was a free public exhibition and conference about disabled and older people’s access to transport.

The event highlighted current and future innovations aimed at making it easier for everyone to get out and about in London. It also provided an opportunity for disabled and older people and their organisations to discuss priorities for accessibility with leaders in the transport field, whilst giving our team a valuable insight into how to further develop our information and options related to accessibility.

Journey Planner Accessibility

Journey Planner will provide customised journeys based upon your accessibility requirements


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Journey Planner – Getting to Sports Grounds

With six Premier League football grounds and seven Football League sides in London, not to mention the likes of the Olympic Stadium, Wembley, Twickenham and Lord’s, it’s little surprise that one of the first innovations on Journey Planner was to add the different entrances to sports venues as points of interest.

This originated with the opening of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in 2006, but has evolved to include all other sports grounds in the London area, and was a vital contribution to the effective Travel Demand Management (TDM) approach used during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Emirates Stadium

Adding different entrances to sports grounds into Journey Planner started with The Emirates Stadium in 2006.

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Journey Planner – Data Updates

The second in this series of posts looks more broadly at Journey Planner, offering an introduction to how data is made available on the system, from the research stage through to release.

Because we aim to ensure the system is as accurate and as broad-ranging as possible, we have recently increased the frequency of our data updates, which are now up to five times a week.

Journey Planner

Bus and Underground timetables are imported from internal systems and are subject to further processing to ensure they are correctly reflected in journey solutions.

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