Edinburgh City Council has updated its Bustracker utility for planning trips by bus. Bustracker has been upgraded with some new features including details of journey times, more information on bus routes including street names and postcodes, and information on bus diversions including rerouted bus stops.
The Bustracker website was first launched in 2008 and a year later Edinburgh was the first place in Scotland to offer real time, mobile phone-friendly bus information to passengers on the move with the launch of a Bustracker app.
Apps such as MyBusEdinburgh and Edinburgh Bus Tracker make use of the Lothian Buses data set, Google maps and GPS location services that come as standard with new phones, tablets, and mobile devices to show you nearest available buses.
The Bustracker web site has information for all Lothian Buses services and all the stops they use in Edinburgh, East Lothian and Midlothian, not just those with electronic Bustracker signs at stops.
On the site you can view full bus routes on Google Maps, see what buses use stops near you and also find real time bus times for individual buses up to an hour ahead.
It would be nice if the bustracker web site distinguished more clearly between bus tours (e.g. CS1 and ET1) for tourists and public transport. Simply making the icons different colours would suffice. I also noticed after downloading the tour bus pamphlets they give times for the Summer timetable. The leaflets say that the winter timetable starts on 29 October (yesterday).
Bustracker is useful for checking full bus routes through the city and for its real time information. Say you are going to the Hub to pick up Edinburgh Festival or Hogmanay tickets, or possibly you are visiting Edinburgh Castle. You can see that the nearest - non-tour-bus stop is the "Victoria Street" bus stop or number 36242342, outside the National Library of Scotland on George IV Bridge.
Buses 23, 27, 41, 42, and 67 all stop here. If you are leaving in the next hour, you can see upcoming buses at your nearest stop on one of those routes and see if there are any delays.
Other route planning tools
Mobile apps using Bustracker (see above) take a lot of the strain of planning your journey by bus by automatically locating where you are by GPS and allowing you to save specific bus routes.
If planning further ahead, Google Maps allows you to get directions from two different points in Edinburgh and plan the best route by bus, by car, walking or cycling. Lothian Buses also uses a version of the Google journey planner on its website.
However, the cycling feature of Google Maps could probably be improved to deal with the idiosyncracies of Edinburgh's road and cyclepath network. Edinburgh CycleStreets journey planner is a popular resource with Edinburgh cyclists, with its options to choose quieter routes and with highly detailed information, such as user notes and photos, about routes.
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