sydney: it’s 10 pm, do you know where your buses are?

This won't amaze readers in places like San Francisco or Boston, which have had for years. But it's an important step for Australia.  Realtime locations of Sydney's buses, via a new app by Flink Labs of Melbourne.

Syd buses realtime

Not sure what the colours mean.  They need to be colour-coded for inbound vs outbound, which otherwise can't be distinguished. 

Thanks to Chris Loader, who blogs about Australian public transport at Charting Transport, for the tip.

9 Responses to sydney: it’s 10 pm, do you know where your buses are?

  1. Richard Tsukamasa Green February 9, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    I’m glad this happened so quickly, I was expecting years, not months

  2. nmra February 9, 2011 at 6:16 am #

    FWIW, Boston has had nextbus for less than a year.
    February 9 article (ok, exactly one year) that was a trial of 6 routes. The full system only rolled out this past summer.

  3. Nicholas Barnard February 9, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    I find that real time information makes buses significantly more ridable, and makes me more productive while riding them. Seattle of course had to reinvent the wheel, so we have OneBusAway here, with the exception of one line (which happens to be a street car) on NextBus..

  4. JJJ February 9, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Yes, replace Boston with DC, theyve had it for awhile, Boston has not.

  5. Zoltán February 9, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    See also West Yorkshire:
    West Yorkshire’s system is really fantastic. I can sit in my living room and wait for the stop at the end of my street to predict a 19 bus in 2 minutes, then get out of the house and walk to the stop. It’s a luxury in good weather, and in really bad weather might change my decision of whether to travel at all.
    It also helps to extend spontaneity to less frequent routes and evening trips (when frequent routes aren’t quite so frequent) to an extent, as you can be think “maybe I’ll take this bus to that place”, and then find if there’s one coming. Of course, that only reinforces the need for frequency, as on a less frequent route, there’s a good chance you’d look it up and decide you definitely don’t want to bother.

  6. Ben Hosken February 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    Thanks for posting about our project Jarrett. This app is driven off a pilot set of data from the RTA and we’ve love to expand the functionality offered as well as moving it to an iPhone/android app. Hopefully the RTA see the interest in it and look to extend the service.
    Ben Hosken
    Flink Labs

  7. Leigh February 9, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Looks pretty good. And the timing of this after the “Online movie-maps” (
    A couple of quick suggestions that I think would help boost the usability of this:
    When you click on a bus or enter a specific route number, this could activate a new layer that shows that particular route plotted on the road network.
    This would help new (or infrequent) users understand where that bus can take them.
    Whilst on busier routes, this routing is able to be estimated between each bus, on less frequent routes, the bus’ position relative to the route extents is unclear.
    I was also interested in Jarrett’s comment about distinguishing between inbound and outbound services – however defining this may not be so easy with non-CBD oriented routes. Perhaps using information about the previous position and current position could determine the marker shape, eg. an arrow showing the direction in which the bus is moving. This wouldn’t always be totally accurate, but a set of 4 or 8 compass-point markers could deliver a decent degree of accuracy.
    Still, very impressive stuff. Also ties in well with frequency mapping (ie. closer spacing of buses indicates higher frequencies). Will definitely be watching this space.

  8. Ben Hosken February 10, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    fyi – We’ve added in a change which shows the direction of the bus using a new icon. Hope it helps.

  9. Alexis May 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    And this service is no more. 🙁 According to the developers:
    “This project was designed and developed using data from the RTA and Data.NSW as part of the Apps4nsw programme. Unfortunately the RTA removed public access to the data within hours of the programme ending.”
    Sydney can’t have good things.