No-one likes having to ask the bus driver which stop they need to get off at (social interactions with strangers are just horrible, right?), and no-one likes being that guy who pushes up the stairs of a double decker only to discover every seat has been taken by those smug commuters who just happen to work two stops earlier up the line than you. TfL, increasingly embracing technological advancements in its fleet of public transport vehicles, is trialling two new systems to make those awkward moments distant memories.
The first will see double decker buses outfitted with a screen at the bottom of their stairs, detailing the available seats up top. Rather than embedding costly new sensors into all of the upstairs seats, the system instead makes use of existing cameras on the upper decks, working in tandem with image recognition software. This will count which seats have a person sitting in them and is no more invasive than current CCTV systems working on buses.
Perhaps most useful of all though is a second screen placed near where the wheelchair / pram bay is. This will offer up live route information, displaying where the next stop is on a moving map, as well as how long it will take to get there. Giving information on nearby landmarks (saving bus drivers the indignity of having to explain that they don't actually know every single street in London, despite what tourists may think), it'll also offer live travel alerts for tube lines -- useful if your planned interchange at the next station on the route is out of action. The live maps are already in action on a few select test buses, while a few buses on the Number 12 route will get the seat counter within the next fortnight. [Ian Visits via TechDigest]