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TfL has announced it will run a three month trial of automatic counting of bus passenger numbers, beginning tomorrow (Friday 9 June).
The trial will use a few different techniques to see which one is most effective in tracking where, when and how passengers are using buses.
TfL already uses methods including Oyster and Contactless payment data and manual paper surveys to monitor service usage, but this new trial aims to offer a further insight into real-time passenger numbers.
It will take place on seven buses, on routes 55, 47, 222, 507 and 521.
What will the trial involve?
TfL will use several methods to collect data about passenger numbers. They include:
- Cameras aimed at the floor on bus doors to count footfall as people get on and off
- Sensors over the doors of buses
- Analysis of the cameras already installed on buses
- Information in changes to the weight of the bus as it moves along its route
- Depersonalised Wi-Fi connection data
Why does TfL need to count passengers?
TfL wants to get a better insight into how passengers use buses, for planning purposes. As well as helping to plan for future route alterations, the data will help TfL develop the network to cope with unplanned disruption and alterations, and provide more accurate real-time journey information, including whether the accessible space on a bus is available.
Simon Reed, Head of Surface Technology and Data at TfL, said:
We use a range of methods, such as ticketing data and manual paper surveys, to understand how customers travel across London, but we cannot measure in real time the number of people on a given bus. We hope this trial will show us the best way to identify real-time bus usage, which in turn could help us plan our network better, run it more effectively and greatly enhance live customer information.
Is the data secure?
Some people may be concerned about the use of their Wi-Fi data during this survey. However, TfL has stressed that:
All WiFi data collected during the trial will be automatically depersonalised at the point of collection. No browsing data will be collected and no individuals will be identified.
Buses involved in the trial which use the cameras, door sensors or Wi-Fi tracking mentioned above will display posters to make passengers aware.