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London bus timings mobile beta site spotted

Next bus is in 5 minutes. It has 3 annoying youths on board

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Londoners will soon be able to use their phones to check when the next bus is coming, thanks to a new feed of data opened up by Transport For London and available on a mobile-optimised website. The Live Bus Departures Countdown service will be useful for passengers lingering, fretful and uninformed, at the 17,000 London bus stops without road-side countdown tickers.

Live Bus Departures is still in a beta testing phase but was spotted this weekend by a Twitter user. TFL promises an official launch this autumn. There is a SMS-based version of the site for those with older phones.

To get local bus times, type in a street, postcode or route number and pick a stop from the map that pops up. Each bus stop has a five digit PIN number that you can save to get quick access to the information from your most used stops.

Some Londoners have been seriously enthused by the development – blogger Diamond Geezer said: "This website could make a genuine difference to my quality of life." We hope so.

Transport for London says:

"TfL has commenced user testing of the new ‘Countdown’ system which will provide real time bus arrival information for all 19,000 bus stops across London via the web and SMS.

“The existing roadside sign service is currently limited to 2,000 bus stops and this new service covering all buses and all stops will launch fully in the Autumn of this year.”

Transport for London has been keen to release transport information - check out their TFL data page where they offer up information feeds to outside developers. Feeds available include live CCTV footage of key roads and routes – images updated every two minutes, and information about Tube train locations updated every 30 seconds.

The existing real-time data feeds on the TFL site are managed by Microsoft's Windows Azure, its cloud computing platform which allows for pay-as-you-use-it hosting and fast data syndication. ®

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