Journey Planner Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to most frequently asked questions about our journey planner.
We can’t test every single possible journey, so please let us know your start and end locations and what were the odd results given so we can test and fix as soon as possible.
Routes & timetables
If this timetable and/or route have already been made available to the public, you’ll be able to find it by following these steps:
- Visit Routes and Timetables
- Select the area the bus service is operating on
- Above the list of service numbers, click on Current Timetable and change this to Upcoming Timetable
- You’ll be able to see any available upcoming timetables and select the one you were looking for
Below is a screenshot of what the Upcoming Timetable option looks like:
The links to bus services PDF/web version timetables open a new tab on the Traveline Southwest website. This can sometimes take a few seconds, but if the timetable never loads or you receive an error message please let us know straight away so we can investigate and contact Traveline Southwest if necessary.
For information on how to report any issues, please visit our help centre.
The real time information system retrieves information from the bus GPS unit. So in order for this to work accurately the bus has to have the GPS unit active, drivers turn this on at the start of their shift.
If a bus gets delayed in traffic, or has to divert for some reason, it becomes harder for the system to give accurate predictions of how long it will take for the bus to arrive.
Occasionally technical faults may arise within the real time information system which can lead to the real time information predictions not being available.
There are also rare cases where a bus that is no longer in service still has the GPS unit on and the system will read it as Service X arriving at Bus Stop X. The bus might pass the stop with the “not in service” message, or take a different route and the system will still try to predict an arrival time at the bus stop.
This is not a comprehensive list, and there may be other things that could interfere with an accurate prediction.
From time to time due to operational reasons, following a road traffic incident for example, operators may have to cancel journeys on a service in order to re-position vehicles so that they can start the next journey on time. At the request of both operators and service users the real time information system has been enhanced to indicate to passengers when a specific journey has been cancelled. The journey that has been cancelled will appear on the real time information/website as follows:
- 26 To Centre 12:00
Followed a few seconds later by:
- 26 Cancelled 12:00
The cancelled message will show the scheduled time of arrival for the specific journey based on the 24 hour clock instead of a predicted arrival time in minutes. This enables passengers to make informed travel choices so that they can complete their journey.
Please note that the cancelled message does not appear automatically – it requires the operator of the service to cancel the journey(s) from the real time information system as only they can decide whether or not a journey will operate.
If you notice that a bus that has arrived at your bus stop has not appeared on the real time information display or website you should report it to the relevant bus operator. In order to enable the bus operator to identify the vehicle, please provide the following information:
- Time the bus arrived at the bus stop;
- Service number;
- Bus stop name;
- Bus registration/fleet number if possible.
Once the operator has received the information they will investigate to ensure that the on-bus equipment (OBU/ETM/communications antenna) is working and check that the driver had logged on correctly. If the bus operator is unable to identify the fault the real time information contractor will be contacted in order to identify/repair the fault.
For information on how to report any issues, please visit our help centre.
There are a number of factors that result in a bus journey not being shown on the real time information system, or website. The most common reasons for a journey not showing are:
- A bus not equipped with a GPS unit being allocated to a service promoted as having real time information;
- There is a fault with the OBU and/or the ETM that communicates with the central real time information system;
- The bus driver has logged on to the ETM incorrectly, preventing the journey operated being ‘matched’ by the central real time information system;
- Incorrect timetable and/or schedule data has been loaded on to the central real time information system, preventing information received from buses being ‘matched’ with information contained on the central real time information system;
- There is a fault with the central real time information system, preventing journey matching and/or predictions from being calculated;
- There is a fault with the communication systems for example, radio base stations, on-vehicle communications antenna etc, preventing information from flowing between buses and central real time information system to at-stop displays, website, etc.
Each bus used on a route that is included on the RTI system is equipped with automatic vehicle location (AVL) equipment that enables the bus to be tracked by global positioning satellites (GPS). The location of the bus is then transmitted to the central RTI system. In addition to the buses location, specific service information is also sent to the central RTI system either through a separate piece of equipment fitted to the bus, referred to as an on-bus unit (OBU), or the electronic ticket machine (ETM).
The specific journey information received from the bus is then compared to timetable and service schedule data stored on the central RTI system. The data is then ‘matched’ and using system algorithms, journey arrival/departure times are predicted and communicated to on-street displays, web sites, Traveline (nextbuses service and SMS) etc.
- When there is a minute countdown it means that the real time information system is correctly tracking the bus location via its activated GPS device.
- When the system cannot find the GPS location of a bus scheduled to arrive it will automatically show the scheduled time as per timetable.
f you can’t find the answer to your question on this page, first please make sure you’re using an up to date browser, as older browsers may cause issues when using our website and online tools.
Best performing browser versions:
Mac: 3 major releases back of major browsers: Safari, Chrome and Firefox.
Windows: 3 major releases back of major browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.
You can’t add the whole Journey Planner, but you can add a widget that has the Start and End fields and our logo. You can also pre-populate the fields before adding to your website. Have a look at our Journey Planner Widget page for more information.
We actually work with a lot of different data providers to be able to deliver a seamless experience in one window. Although this is a complex work for developers due to all the different data formats, it provides a failsafe in case there is a technical issue with just one dataset as it won’t make the whole journey planner unavailable to you.
Bellow are the main data providers and datasets we use:
- Car Clubs: We connect to a dataset in Open Data Bristol which combines data from each car club to retrieve locations for their bays. This updates every 24 hours.
- Charge Points: We connect to the Data.gov.uk’s National Charge Point Registry to retrieve charge point locations.
- Cycle Hire: We connect to YoBike for live locations.
- Train Stations: We connect to data from National Rail’s Darwin API.
- Rider Zones: We connect to an API available at https://opendata.bristol.gov.uk/explore/dataset/rider-zones/, updated by our own team.
- Bus and rail live arrivals and departures: For bus live arrivals we connect directly to the same supplier who provides the information for the real time displays at bus stops in the West of England. We also use National Rail’s Darwin API for rail information.
- Bus stops (including Park & ride), bus routes and timetables: This data is sent separately by bus operators to each of the Local Authorities in the West of England. It’s then manually sorted and quality checked by Local Public Transport Teams and uploaded into a system used by Traveline Southwest (aka SWPTI) for sorting. The sorted data is then sent back to us in a different format and combined into one single developer friendly data source by a process designed internally so that we can use it in our Journey Planning tools. This guarantees that our data is always the most recent.
- Public Transport (Bus + Rail) + Walk Journey Planning: We connect directly to the SWPTI API provided by Traveline Southwest for these results. Traveline uses their own smart algorithm to calculate the best journey options using public transport data from bus and rail operators.
- Drive Journey Planning: We connect to the Google Directions API for these results.
- Cycle Journey Planning: We connect to the Cycle Streets API for these results.
- Walk Journey Planning: We connect to the Google Directions API for these results.