It’s been just over 10 weeks since we launched the new site, and it’s a good opportunity to round up how the site is doing, what improvements we’ve made and our future plans.

How’s the new site doing?

The site is as busy as ever, with continued high usage from all types of devices.

TfL website key metrics from March to June 2014

Key metrics from March to June 2014


The main observations are;

  • Journey Planner visits have increased by around 10% overall since the new site was launched
  • Mobile and tablet usage is higher than ever before with around 54% of visits overall, rising to 65% over the weekend
  • 250 million pages of content have been viewed in 50 million visits from 20 million people
  • The site successfully supported the significant load caused by the RMT Tube strike in  April – the first major ‘real life’ test for our new cloud infrastructure, which is responsible for the ‘spike’ shown on the graph above

We’ve also reached a major milestone which has enabled us to switch off our old website and the hosting on which it was based.  The new site will be around 25% cheaper to host on our new cloud infrastructure, despite supporting much richer features and higher traffic.

What improvements have we made?

Since launch we’ve released four updates to the site, roughly one every two weeks.  These have delivered;

  • ‘Nearby’ improvements to allow you to search for any place, in addition to stations, stops and piers or ‘my location’
  • Addition of timetables and ‘first and last’ services to the main navigation and to stations, stops and piers pages – see http://www.tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/timetables/
  • Better Journey Planner mapping to enable the whole journey to be seen at once, with switchable stations, stops and piers
  • Hundreds of smaller fixes and improvements, including a number of device-specific problems

Since launch we’ve had some intermittant problems with the new version of bus arrivals. While we’ve been working on that our homepage has linked off to m.countdown.tfl.gov.uk which is an older (but very effective) service we’ve been offering for a number of years.

We expect the new bus arrivals tool to be back on again shortly and, in time, to replace the older service altogether.

Our future plans

A site like this never sits still and there is continual flow of improvements and projects planned.  Some of the work planned for this year is;

  • The release of our new API for developers
  • New Oyster and contactless payments websites to work responsively across mobile, tablet and desktop
  • National Rail information integrated with the new site
  • Journey Planner – better printing and sharing, planning outside London, cycling enhancements, easier entry of locations and better accessibility planning for lifts and escalators
  • Further information about the road network and our plans for improving it
  • Greater personalisation and alerting features

As ever your feedback is really valuable to us, we appreciate your comments so please keep them coming.  If there are specific things you’d like to see on the site, or things which are really annoying you then let us know.

Posted by Phil Young

Phil is Head of Online at Transport for London, leading the team responsible for tfl.gov.uk, Open Data, social media and intranets.

23 Comments

  1. For the last couple of weeks, autofilling/recognition of seemingly the majority of stations (across all transport modes) in the basic journey planner has disappeared. Some are still there, but none of the ones I want to use! This is device-agnostic.

    Also, in my experience the new-site Journey Planner has never remembered my preferences for transport mode/walking speed etc. for future visits – it didn’t do this on the old site for at least the last couple of years. I *think* it used to remember my preferences at some point in the dim and distant past. Again, this is across various devices.

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    1. Hi there. We have had problems with the auto complete feature but it should be back layer today. We will take a look at the preference issue you mention.

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      1. Using the fairly new http://webcompat.com/ (“Bug reporting for the internet”), I’ve filed the ticket https://github.com/webcompat/web-bugs/issues/132 for issues I’ve had with autocomplete. Please may you redirect to someone who would be able to take a look? 🙂

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  2. I see you are going to remove the old Live Bus Arrivals webpage. Can I make a plea that the new bus arrivals pages on the website, and other pages which display bus stop info, include the bus stop code number? Having the code number is a very useful short cut to access info or to use on other apps. Given the database recognises the code numbers it would be a shame to bury this info on a list tucked away in the depths of the website – if it is still there! A quick search failed to uncover it.

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  3. I’m not sure if this is a problem with my particular phone or the website itself, but I can never seem to get the ‘nearby’ feature to work properly. Whenever I go to use it, it always comes back with the error message ‘We cannot find your current location. Please try again’. I’ve checked and location services are definitely switched on and enabled within the browser, so it’s slightly frustrating to say the least!

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  4. I found the NEARBY option today for the first time. It looks like it will be very useful when the bus arrivals works properly. But can you make the bus stop codes larger or bolder? The tail of the J is quite small — I cannot easily distinguish between I and J and I’m sure there are others. And is it possible to change the temporary countdown link so that it opens the selected bus stop instead of having to type it in longhand?
    Can you also consider a future link to the bus arrivals in the View Details section of journey results, alongside the “view text instructions” and “view on a map” options, where it will be particularly useful for people who are underground (so without gps), approaching their destination station and want to know whether the bus is on time. But it possibly needs to be launched in a second window (where that is available) so that the user can switch between the route and the bus arrivals screen.
    And one last (for the moment) request … in the journey planning options (bus, train etc), I would really like a Freedom Pass option so I could be sure that I am not being routed through a station where the freedom pass is not valid.

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  5. Hi Phil,
    On the Journey Planner, when appropriate please can you make it default to something sensible rather than searching for suggestions and then requiring the user to make a selection for the & fields. E.g. If I type Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road, these fields should default to the tube stations matching these names (even if it is a fuzzy match) rather than presenting a list of alternatives (Liverpool Street, City of London; City of London, Tune Liverpool Street etc.).
    If someone really does want to know bus / walking directions etc. then they can manually select these options however I’d say approximately 99% of searches are looking for how long the tube takes between these two stops.
    I understand that not all cases are a simple as the one given above, however you must have data showing what people search for and then subsequently select from the suggestions – in the first instance the top result could be used as the default selection.
    Finally, I’m surprised that this wasn’t picked up when testing the usability of the Journey Planner – if you need testers in the future I’d be happy to help.
    Thanks,
    Harry

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    1. Sorry, looks like anything between “” has been stripped out of my previous comment. I’m talking about the From & To fields in the Journey Planner. It should say:
      From: Liverpool Street
      To: Tottenham Court Road

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    2. Hi Harry, the way this works is that, as you type, the site offers a match for what you are typing. If you select from the offered list (which brings up the names of the places you mention as you type) then you will never see the screen which asks you more detail about those places. If you are not getting the auto-suggestion as you type then you may need to clear your cookies and cached web pages for that to start working again.

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      1. Clearing cookies has restored the full autocomplete behaviour I’ve been missing for a few weeks (hurrah!), but ‘save these preferences for future visits’ still doesn’t work.

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      2. Hi there, glad we’ve sorted the auto-complete. We have a fix coming shortly which won’t require you to clear cookies. I can see an issue with ‘save these preferences’ – we’ll take a look at why that’s not working as it should.

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      3. Phil, Heres an example where the search matching is not working.
        I put in Croft Road Enfield (no punctuation, just spaces) as my destination and the search gives me a series of possible matches, none of which include Croft Road.

        I then edit my search as just Croft Road (without mentioning Enfield) and the search now decides that it CAN find a Croft Road in Enfield (9th Choice).

        Surely, that should have been the FIRST choice when I did my first search, because it exactly matches all three words of my search — unlike all the other results, which matched at most one or two words from it.

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  6. Having recently looked for the results of Bus Tenders I believe you have a problem with the information held on the new website. There are considerable gaps in the list of Tranches and also the “by date” list. There are also new results for the last 6 months or so. As the provision of this information is part of the wider TfL Transparency agenda I think it would be good to investigate what may have happened to the historical data and / or the process by which data is updated and for the dataset to be restored / updated as soon as is practicable.

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    1. Hi there, thanks for bringing this to our attention. We’ll take a look.

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  7. Adrian Wright June 24, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Are there any plans to create an iPhone app instead of having to use the website via a mobile browser?

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    1. Adrian, we don’t have any plans for a travel app at the moment. I talked about this in a couple of earlier posts – https://blog.tfl.gov.uk/2014/03/12/why-a-new-website-but-no-app-part-1/ and https://blog.tfl.gov.uk/2014/03/12/why-a-new-website-but-no-app-part-2/. You can save an icon for our website on your iPhone home screen so it’s basically an app in terms of how you access it.

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  8. Another problem (posted here ’cause I can’t find a website feedback link on the site itself any more). Not sure if it’s already been raised, but why is the Planned Works Calendar (under Status Updates) Tube-only? What about other modes? How are users meant to find upcoming closure information for eg. the DLR?

    Is this another instance of internal organisational politics getting in the way of end-user helpfulness, just like Tramlink’s relegation out of sight, out of mind?

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      1. In that case, what’s the point of the Planned Works Calendar?
        With respect, that ‘time’ dropdown isn’t remotely obvious. It took me a couple of moments to work out what link you’d directed me to. Didn’t the old website have a more obvious ‘this weekend’-or-similar text link? This new dropdown may make sense to the website programmers, but I’d suggest is pretty rubbish for the casual user to intuitively find.

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  9. There seems to be an ongoing problem with the timetables for the 313 route.
    I don’t think I can upload a file here, so I’ve saved an example at artsinherts.co.uk/temporary/cockfosters.png
    That 0 minute section is actually about a 30 minute journey, so it very seriously changes the journey time. And it was doing exactly the same, in both directions, yesterday afternoon and evening so this is not just a one-off glitch.

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  10. I’m still getting nonsense “0 minute” journeys involving the 313 route.
    Today’s example is at artsinherts.co.uk/temporary/chingford-0803.png
    Curiously an identical journey planned for 10th or 17th August does not have this problem, though you would expect most of the services to have the same timetable.

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    1. Why is an issue reported by Jeremy on June 27, 2013 at 12:06 am on your beta site STILL an issue well over a year later?
      Why, when I select Harrow & Wealdstone as destination FROM A DROP-DOWN LIST of stations in the planner, am I greeted with 3 pages of choices of multiple locations found, starting with West Harrow??!
      Why?
      GARBAGE.

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  11. Seems like the Journey Planner and Nearby were both down for about an hour today. I did not notice the exact times, but I guess from about 5.30 to 6.30pm.

    I had a signal on my mobile and could reach other sites, but as soon as I tried to plan a journey or look at Nearby I got a “remote server has reset the connection” message.

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