Transport for London (TfL) expanded the open Transport for London API last week to include real-time data on bus information. Bus information that is usually posted in bus shelters is now available via the API. TfL already uses the data feeds that will be available via the API for its internal SMS service and TfL website. Londoners have already benefited from available data via text message updates regarding bus schedules. Now, developers outside TfL gain access to the same data TfL texts to Londoners on a daily basis.
Developers have long used TfL’s API as to integrate Tube (i.e. the London subway system) information into their applications (Google Maps, the Chocolate Factory). Accordingly, expect a host of developers to integrate with the bus API; especially as travel applications prepare for the 2012 Olympics.
London buses are tracked via GPS to capture the input data. Developers then gain access to the data via a JSON/HTTP feed. Accordingly, the integration possibilities span from mobile applications to standard web apps.
Two main types of data feeds will be available. The live bus arrival instant is targeted at mobile users as it provides a “snapshot of the data” across all TfL stops. The live bus arrival stream delivers a continuous supply of bus data across TfL stops: “From a single request the response will continue to be updated over time.” For access to the API, please see TfL’s Developer’s Area.