London buses and mapping

Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 17:17:04

I have been exploring the use of London buses a little more recently and so naturally started looking at routes and timetables to see how accessible different parts of London are; for instance, did you know that the number 188 runs from St Pancras to the O2 Arena? No, neither did I. OK, its not going to replace the tube as it takes well over an hour, but even so, some routes have surprisingly good connectivity. However Beck-style route maps become a horrible tangled heap of spaghetti once you have more than a few routes and you need no better example than London buses - here are all things maps and the map of central London shows that they don’t even try to represent it because it’s so horrible. What you need to do is break the route down in to “where am I” locations and then provide routes from there, such as this example from St Pancras. However an interactive map is the most obvious solution and TfL do provide one using the Google Maps API. It took me a while to figure out how it worked (OK, I’m not quick!), but it’s actually rather pleasant to use (you NEED to maximise the map)!! Like the PDF maps, you type in “where I am” and it then presents your location with a legend showing ALL the buses that pass close to you. If you click on the bus route in the legend it then shows it on the map. Fantastic….you can now peruse routes from your location. Two things are missing here though:

1. It would be nice to see all those routes live on the map and then click on single routes to highlight them. I appreciate this could get spaghetti like in certain areas but interactivity would help this.

2. Please provide approximate transport times for each route - at the moment you don’t have a clue how long it takes (and again I appreciate rush hour will be much slow - maybe a fastest/slowest time range?) and need to go to the detailed Journey Planner and make sure you only select buses and then enter your start and end point. A big faff!

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