All posts 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.

InformationNews

Demand for Digital Services During Today’s Disruption

As expected, we saw very significant demand for digital services during this morning’s disruption as torrential rain and signal failures affected a number of Tube and Rail lines. 

Website Traffic - June 23 morning peak

TfL website traffic during the June 23 morning peak, showing a significant increase on yesterday, and the same time last week

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News

Our use of social media

We recently shared some thinking about how we provide the best service to our customers via Twitter (‘TfL Social Media – Adapting to Twitter’s Changes’).

This has been taken as suggesting that we’re stepping back from providing the full range of information we currently provide our customers and that we object in some way to the changes being proposed to Twitter.  That was not our intention, so we’ve taken down the post.

We’re not going to make any immediate changes to the current range of information we put out on Twitter, which means customers will continue to get everything they are used to receiving.

We’re working with Twitter to ensure that we make best use of their platform and bring customers the messages they want to receive.

We’ve also got loads of ideas about how we use new features and approaches to give customers an even better service on this channel.

We’ll keep you updated with all of that here and really value your thoughts about how we can provide better travel information on all the channels we use.

InformationJourney PlannerNews

Journey Planner – More options now available

From today you’ll notice that we’re now providing more options by default in Journey Planner.

In addition to the fastest public transport journey, we now also calculate bus only, Santander cycles, cycling and walking journeys. Through other buttons on the journey results you can access routes for full step-free access, least walking and fewest changes.

We’ve also fixed some problems people were having with planning from certain stations like Watford Junction, which stemmed from a data issue.

updates to JP

Journey Planner now offers more default options for completing your journey, with many more improvements to follow in the near future.

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InformationNews

Changes to advertising on our website

We’ve made some changes today to advertising on tfl.gov.uk, with key pages featuring more prominent advertising in new formats.

For the past few years we have featured advertising on the site. As a public body we reinvest any income to run and improve the services we provide, including the website.

Home page advertising

From today you’ll notice an increased advertising presence on some key pages of our website

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News

TfL website – One year on

This week marked the first anniversary of the launch of our new website. The new site, which works well on mobiles, tablets and desktops, replaced our previous website dating back to 2007.

The site, used by 81% of Londoners, brings together live data about all forms of transport in London and is a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about public transport and roads.

Since launch customers have made over 250 million visits and viewed 1.2 billion pages and our most recent survey shows satisfaction at 90%, the highest ever.

We have also seen usage on mobile phones overtake desktop computers with 120 million visits on mobile and 107 million on desktops, with the remainder coming from tablets. This reflects the fact that the site is much better suited to mobiles and customers are increasingly using it on the move.

TfL, Home Page, New Website

TfL home page at launch in March 2014

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News

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.

News

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.

InformationNews

Reported issues on O2

8pm update – 13 June 2014

O2 have carried out a network update which should resolve this issue. To activate the update you may need to turn ‘flight mode’ on and off before refreshing the TfL website. After that it should work fine.

Please let us know if you still have any problems with this.

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Reported Issues with O2

We’re seeing some issues when customers try to access our site over the O2 mobile network. If you are with another provider which uses the O2 mobile network you may have this problem too – for example on Tesco Mobile, Giffgaff and Lycamobile.

What’s the problem?

For some users the site does not load properly and key features cannot be used. You can tell if you are affected because the ‘menu’ button at the top of the page does not load and the ‘Plan a journey’ box will not open up when you touch it.

TfL website with O2 loading problem

TfL website with O2 loading problem – note there’s no menu button at the top right

What should I do?

If you are being affected by this then using the link https://www.tfl.gov.uk will resolve it for now (the key bit being the ‘https’ part which switches to a secure connection).

When will it be fixed?

We are working with O2 to understand what is happening and to get it resolved as quickly as possible, whether that’s by making changes on our side or at the mobile network end of things.

Wifi usage is unaffected – the problem is only occurring when using a mobile connection.

If you are affected please let us know, we’re assessing how widespread the problem is.

News

Website content during Tube strikes

As you can imagine, it’s been very busy on the website in the past few days as people have wanted to find information about when the Tube strike would happen and what the impact would be.

Traffic volumes on the site

We’ll do a more specific post tomorrow about the traffic volumes and most popular content, but the headlines are that on Monday we received around 7 million page views in 1.6m visits from 1.3m unique users.  That’s a little more than twice our normal daily traffic.

In the evening we received around 600,000 page views between 10pm and 11pm – which proved to be the busiest hour of the day.

Website traffic volumes 28 April 2014

Website traffic volumes on Monday 28th April 2014

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