Archived: 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.

The process of updating data has four main components.

    • Research – This involves producing a detailed list of forthcoming timetable changes for all of TfL’s forms of transport, ensuring that the change is fully understood by our team, data is available and that work is prioritised so that new information is available as far ahead of service adjustments as possible. Alongside this, we research information on bus stop adjustments and Points of Interest, making changes to our system as necessary.
    • Entry of data – Bus and Underground timetables are imported from internal systems, but require some further processing to ensure that they are correctly reflected in journey solutions, such as matching the destination shown on the front of buses. Other data requires manual entry into the back-office system we use.
    • Build – This puts all new data into a usable format for journey solutions, creating a dataset which we can test. Each new piece of data is verified for accuracy, and corrected if necessary, to minimise the likelihood of wrong data reaching customers. The confirmed dataset is shared with the Traveline and Transport Direct journey planners which cover the rest of the country.
    • Release – This is the point at which new data appears on Journey Planner and the API and features in journey solutions. Messages explaining engineering works and major service changes are also added. A weekly newsletter is produced for TfL colleagues describing forthcoming changes and new data which has been added.

We believe that new information should be made available to Journey Planner users, developers and staff as quickly as possible. This is why we’ve moved away from the fixed weekly cycle to a more flexible approach where we release new data as soon as possible.


  1. That’s all fine, but why is your closures map not working? It’s been over 4 days and it’s constantly giving misleading information (“no closures” even with 5 lines out of action) – that’s really poor show on your part. If not working, at least remove it until you can get it working again.

    1. Hi James, we’re working to restore that map, unfortunately it’s pretty complex either to remove or fix but we’ll have it sorted in the next couple of days. I agree it’s not good enough for such a core feature to be unavailable – we’re looking at why this happened so we can make sure it does not happen again. Sorry for the inconvenience, I hope you’ve been able to get the status from the service board and accompanying text ok.

      1. Just to follow up on this. The map was fixed last week, however there is still an issue where it gives a ‘data service unavailable’ error when accessed over https. It’s fine over http. We’re working to sort this out.

      2. Hi Phil
        I have a few comments on inaccurate data in the journey planner, and can’t find a way to feed this back. It particularly relates to journeys linked to my station, crofton park. E.g. If you type crofton park to Euston, it always omits the northern line from elephant and castle as a choice, which is actually the most direct and quickest. If you run those searches as separate legs it works.

  2. Hi Phil, while I appreciate it’s a complex issue to resolve you could at least change the “there are no closures” text message to something like “apologies the map is not working, please check the text”. This is a text string so should be fairly quick and easy to find and replace – and if it isn’t then you’ve built/accepted an unnecessarily complex system and you should also look at why that is so. My main issue (other than that the text is so long winded that makes it hard to decipher) is that as it is you are actually providing wrong/misleading information – it’s not just about the pretty presentation.
    Thanks for your reply.

    1. Hi James, you’ve probably seen that we’ve fixed this as of late last week. Appreciate your point of course – it’s not about how good things look but about how well they work.

  3. hi, can ask help here?
    i have been searching now for hours with no results…
    i have windows 8.1 with latest mozilla firefox, and i’m unable to see any maps of the journeys i plan, or bus routes if i search them.
    for the journeys the map certainly appears, but remains empty, with no line showing the actual route.
    bus maps remains blank grey as far i remember…
    i hope is just some sort of a setting i should change, to be able to see these…
    can anybody help me please?
    thank you in advance

  4. We are all familiar with the utterly woeful tfl website. It doesn’t recognise very obvious, famous London streets, much of the info is just wrong. It gets lots of bus items wrong. It doesn’t provide useful info for route 170.
    ~Who designed this garbage? Union member busy counting his fat undeserved pension?

    1. Hi Imogen. Can you give us some examples on this? What information is wrong, what streets are you searching for and what would you like to know about the 170? We’ll see if we can help.

  5. TFL is really difficult to contact and give feedback on about inaccurate information in the journey planner. Checking travel on a journey which used to be easy but is now woefully difficult on Sundays I have realised that the planner is giving out wrong information by showing trains on 25th January from Charing Cross to Blackheath. The Sunday service has been withdrawn from early next month. The planner is misleading and does not give obvious routes. As the train service is now so infrequent and inconvenient, my expectation on arriving on a train at King’s Cross would be to get the tube to North Greenwich and get a 108 bus but this option does not seem to be suggested but the planner does suggest some bizarre routes.

    1. Hi Andrew, the Journey Planner is consistent with National Rail Enquiries for planning journeys from Charing Cross to Blackheath on 25th January so I can only assume that service is running as advertised. If you’d like the Journey Planner to give you a route which avoids National Rail then you can do so by selecting ‘travel options and accessibility’ and deselecting the National Rail check box.

  6. Hi – Not sure where to comment this. And I have hunted around the TFL website and can’t find anywhere to feed this back. For a while now I’ve been finding that I can’t adjust the walking speed on journey planner. I go into preferences adjust it and then type in my journey and my walking speed goes back to average, however many times I adjust my preferences or try and save my preferences with Walking speed set to fast – it simply won’t change. It means that I get quite inaccurate journey times, and offers me journeys by bus or tube where I could probably walk it quickly. It’s really frustrating as journey planner has stopped being a good way to plan my travels. I have tried doing this on different computers and browsers – but no change. Have other people been experiencing this? Is there anything I can do to solve it? Thanks!

    1. I have exactly the same issue. Doesn’t seem to matter which browser software I use ( Safari on my Apple stuff, Firefox on my PC – both latest releases ) every time I plan a journey the planner defaults to “Average walker, 40mins” I’m certainly not average ( 🙂 ) and 15 minutes is my default, “Let’s think of a better way” time…

  7. Hi, in the Journey Planner the 390 bus seems not to exist when trying a journey I know it makes, for example when searching ‘Brewery Road’ (in N7) to say Oxford Circus Tube, Marble Arch Tube or Bayswater Road. It gives alternative journeys with other bus routes but not the 390. Also, if you put 390 in the search field (top right), no result for the bus route comes up, yet if I search 274, I get the route page and timetable page in the top two results.

  8. Hi Zoe
    I am having exactly the same issue. Walking speed does not update when you change it. Can anyone help?

    1. Hi there, the Journey Planner seems to be fine. If you let us know the journey origin and destination then we can check why you are not getting a journey returned.

  9. This journey planner gves incorrect journeys. For example, entering a journey from Clapham Common to the Double Tree Hilton at Ealing Common takes me to an address in Hounslow. If instead I enter only the post code for the hotel it then gives me an accurate result. Not so bad for me, a Londoner that recognises the mistake but what about visitors to London? I’ve had other instances of similar problems with this site previously so if any of these gltches could be ironed out it would be of use as currently in my opinion it’s not very good at all.

    1. Points of interest selections use Google Places before “falling back” on ones we have loaded. Google describe this location as “DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Ealing, London, United Kingdom” which returns a correct journey

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