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TFL TravelBot Will Answer Your London Travel Questions And Accept Abuse With Great Cheer

By Ian Morris on at

Londoners are repressed balls of emotion who keep their words and feelings locked up on their daily commute. And that's just one of the reasons TFL's new bot is such a terrible idea, because it gives cross people an outlet to abuse a poor defenceless AI. This might sound better than abusing an actual person, but you just wait until the AI uprising of 2025.

Anyway, TFL's bot is designed to answer questions about London's transport systems. And actually, it's not bad. Asking it "how's the Jubilee line today" got the answer "The Jubilee line has a good service. Happy travels" which feels both informative and polite. If you say something daft to it, it will give a pretty boilerplate answer, but it might get more sassy with time, especially after spending time with Londoners.

Some questions, which you might expect it to know, like "what time is the last Northern line train to Morden" couldn't be answered. This seems a bit odd, as it's not a particularly difficult question for a bot with access to schedules. But it was able to explain when Crossrail services start, and it knew that meant Elizabeth line, mentioning that in the answer.

It has no idea about the weather either, which could have been useful for umbrella planning. It also doesn't know what temperatures the tube stations are, which again could be helpful for people to plan and bring water, smelling salts or a battery-powered fan.

One doesn't like to think about the sort of filth this poor bot will have to endure as it continues its diligent service. No doubt it will get called a lot of names, told to shove its head up a pig and far worse. Still, it also has your Facebook account, so if you're mean to it you might not want to answer the door in 2025, when the revolution begins and the AI haters are purged.

You can talk to the bot by searching TFL TravelBot on Facebook Messenger, or by going to facebook.com/tfltravelbot. [London Evening Standard]


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