We’re proud to introduce our Facebook Messenger TravelBot, which has the ability to provide updates on bus arrivals as well as Tube and bus status updates.

Through our two Facebook pages – the main TfL page and the London Underground page – we deal with a huge number of queries every day, and we wanted to make it even easier for customers to get our information on the Facebook platform in a way that’s fast and straightforward. With the open data in our Unified API already helping to provide live information on many services like third-party apps and Twitter alerts, we hope this will be another big step towards enabling customers to quickly and easily access the information they need via social media. 


Now on Facebook Messenger you can ask for information using everyday language. You don’t need to be a technical person and understand how it works, you can ask something as simple as “Hi, how’s the Jubilee line today?”

Our aim is to make it as easy as possible to use the bot, and if it doesn’t understand what you’ve typed it will ask you to explain. As the bot is used more and more, it will learn and we will be constantly tweaked to improve how everything works. We’re working on lots of features, and have started with a few we think will be useful when you’re out and about.

To get started, search for ‘TfL TravelBot’ on the Facebook Messenger app or http://m.me/tfltravelbot on your computer.

Here’s a descriptions of the new tools and how they work.

Bus arrivals 🚏

Check when your bus is due to arrive by sharing your location or providing the bus stop code.

To check, type something like:
‘When’s the next bus’ or ‘next bus’, then you will be asked to share where you are using your phone’s location, or you can provide the bus stop code if you know it.

Bus route status 🚌

Find out if there are disruptions on your bus route.

To check, type something like:
‘How’s the 38 bus’ or ’38 bus’.

Tube and rail status 🚦

Find out if there are disruptions on any Tube line, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail or trams.

To check, type something like:
‘Is the Central line disrupted’ or ‘central’, you will be provided with the latest status info. This also works with ‘dlr’, ‘overground’, ‘tfl rail’ or ‘trams’.

Maps 🗺

View or download our Tube map, rail and Night Tube maps.

To get the maps type something like:
‘Tube map’ or ‘rail map’ or ‘map’. You will be provided with the option to view, download or send the map.

This service is available at all times, and uses the same information that powers our website and most apps. You can use it when you want to check if there are disruptions or if there are issues check it regularly to see when things go back to normal.

These services are in addition to the existing team who take care of our Facebook pages 24/7, and they will continue to be available to help. To see details of our social media accounts, please visit our social media page.

Your Feedback

Please do ask questions about these services, as well as leaving us any feedback you have. You can leave your feedback in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

Posted by Steven Gutierrez

16 Comments

  1. brianbutterworth June 12, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    I’ve fallen at the first hurdle because it doesn’t get my location correct for a Bus Stop details. It presents only a few bus stops, not all the ones I can get to.

    Would love this to be a Google Assistant Agent too… https://console.api.ai/api-client

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    1. Steven Gutierrez June 12, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Hi Brian

      Thanks for your feedback. The TravelBot will give you bus stops nearest to you. If you have a specific bus stop in mind you can use the ‘bus stop code’. You can also provide any location even if you’re not there.

      We’re using Google’s API.AI and will consider other platforms in the future, at the moment we’re focusing on Facebook Messenger because we know many customers use the platform.

      Cheers

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      1. brianbutterworth June 12, 2017 at 6:11 pm

        Thanks for the reply.

        It might be useful if you could tell the TravelBot your postcode (“location W1A 1AA”) ? Location detection with Windows 10 isn’t accurate enough, compared to the GPS you have on a phone.

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  2. The idea is very good but the platform is wrong. Why is the bot not availible on Telegram? So i still need the twitterforward bot which has a lot of delay. I think it should be easy to adabt the bot to Telegram.

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    1. Steven Gutierrez June 14, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Hi

      Thanks for your feedback. We have rolled out the service on Facebook because we know it’s the most popular messaging platform our customers use. We’re aware of Telegram and the interesting opportunities however our investment will be on Facebook and Twitter for now. https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/multi-sector-research/cmr/cmr16

      Cheers

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  3. Stuart Wetherell June 19, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Is there a simple way if notifying faults, problems & complaints?
    Eg, display any working properly at the bus stop Stoke Newington Church Street. I don’t see where else to notify you.

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    1. Steven Gutierrez June 21, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      Hi Stuart

      Thanks for your help flagging issues.

      We have lots ways to get in touch. On social media (Twitter/Facebook) you can send us a private message and within our TravelBot you can type something like ‘speak to an agent’ or use the menu to find the option.

      In this case, I recommend submitting the issue through our website:

      https://tfl.gov.uk/help-and-contact/contact-us-about-buses

      Cheers

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  4. […] recently launched our first ever Chatbot – the “TfL Travelbot” on Facebook, which uses artificial intelligence to help answer customer queries expressed in everyday language. […]

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  5. Hi,
    I’ve had a play with this and it’s lots of fun (though still not sure how much quicker typing a message is compared to navigating the website).
    One thing that’d be a great to have is the ability to search for a bus stop by name. For example, when I’m on the tube a couple of stations from my destination, I want to know how much time I’ve got before until a bus comes. At the point I normally look this up, it’s not currently one of my closest stops, nor do I know the 5 digit code for the stop. I just want to say “When’s the next 188 or 199 bus from Canada Water?” and have as list of answers.

    Also, please add river buses. (The underlying data is basically the same as land buses, so shouldn’t be too hard 😉 )

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    1. Steven Gutierrez June 29, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Hi Luke

      Thanks for your feedback.

      I believe for some tasks (such as using bus stop codes) the experience is faster and more friendly however our website is the most comprehensive tool.

      I’m not sure what you mean by searching bus stops by ‘name’, they have a letter but due to the huge amount of bus stops knowing the letter has limited use. Did you know you can search for a place and bus stops nearby? For example: I know of bars and restaurants on the high street but of course I don’t know the bus stop code so I can search for the bar near the stop and find the bus info that way. Try it out!

      Similarly I don’t think it would work to search for area name, there are just too many stops near stations and POIs. Combining area with bus route might cut down the variables so thanks for sharing that idea.

      In terms of river buses, Thames Clippers is the operator and they provide a range of services, it may be something that we add in the future.

      Cheers

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      1. I haven’t been able to search for a place and bus stops nearby. Do you have any examples of that working? (Perhaps I’m picking places with too generic a name).

        Regarding river buses, does the bot care who the operator of a service is? I thought it got all its data from the unified API.

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      2. Steven Gutierrez July 5, 2017 at 11:37 am

        Hi Luke

        You can search for any location on Facebook’s database, most restaurants and attractions are available. The location pin can also be moved around so you can specify a location on the map visually.

        Searching a location by known POI such as restaurant

        Searching a location by dragging the location pin

        Regarding river services, some functionality has been built already, if you ask about a pier it will provide a link to our ‘stations, stops and piers’ webpage https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/stations-stops-and-piers/, next step will be serving the specific pier webpage and river boat services status is being considered.

        Cheers

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      3. Ah, I can search for locations when on my phone! Originally, I’d just looked at the desktop version and facebook messenger doesn’t give that option there (you can drag your pin around the map, but that’s it)

        Cheers,
        Luke

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  6. […] this comes in light with the recent introduction of the Transport for London Messenger Bot, Travelbot on Facebook. Their app lets you know the next bus or train departure without human to human interaction, but […]

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  7. Steven – I just tried it and the ease of use, speed and detailed info it returned made me smile. Congratulations on a great implementation.

    It’s quite unbelievable that your service takes a stop code and returns (correctly) when a bus stop is closed, with the status info – while the main TfL site shows stop info without the status message.

    Very impressed (and I didn’t expect to like an FB bot!)

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  8. […] you may already know if you’re following this blog, we recently released the TfL TravelBot on Facebook Messenger. If you haven’t read them yet, Steven and Charul’s posts will give you a bit of background. […]

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