Bus PID improvements

A small but useful upgrade

This seems quite handy: a few PTV buses in the Ventura fleet have a Passenger Information Display (PID) on the back which, when the bus is waiting at a terminus to depart, shows how many minutes until it leaves.

Bus waiting for departure, with display showing 'Departs in 4 min'

When it’s departure time, it changes to “Departs now!”

I can’t say I’ve noticed the same information on the front.

This is of value because a passenger approaching from the rear of the bus can see if they need to rush.

While en route, it appears the route number and destination is displayed.

So far I haven’t seen a similar display on Melbourne’s trams, though I did see them while in Brussels in 2017.

Brussels tram terminus, with tram showing minutes to departure

I hope other bus operators are also moving towards this type of useful display. Presumably it’s linked up to the (relatively new) bus tracking equipment on-board.

A steady improvement in passenger information is welcome. Another thing I saw on that trip in 2017 was internal displays on every single London bus we caught, including important information about other modes.

London bus alert for Underground

Melbourne’s Smartbus fleet has similar displays to indicate the next stop, along with automatic announcements – and some other route buses also have this type of display, but it beats me why it isn’t standard on all new buses.

Of course, adding more information displays to buses doesn’t fix the problems of poor frequencies and confusing network structure.

But the route number on the back does help you find your bus – and the countdown timer might just help you avoid missing it and having a long wait for the next one.

It only seems to be on a few buses so far, but let’s hope there are more improvements to come.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

11 replies on “Bus PID improvements”

This will be a good thing, but the issue is how they will be retrofitted to buses that has a small display at the back that only displays the route number and nothing else?

And another thing, I have seen on several Transit Systems buses a display that shows the next 5 stops, but not on many sadly. This is something that other operators need to do as there will be people who may be unfamiliar with the area getting these buses and they need to know where to get off. I don’t think it is that expensive to do, and the technology is available.

I didn’t pay a lot of attention but we saw this used by Brisbane buses last year, including the front destination. When the bus shows “Departing now”, you certainly quicken your pace to the bus door.

The EV buses in Brisbane have this PID, there is a side display as well with mins to departure time

This is only on buses with the new Comsat desto controller, and only then if the driver has set automatic signs on. If desto is set to manual signs you don’t get the departure time. Also it’s only at the start of a trip. They really should do it at timing points as well

About time, only twenty years late just like the timetables. Some of the Invicta buses used to have small LCD monitors masquerading as PIDs back in the early 2000s but all they ever showed was the weather, news and some local business ads. A step up from the 1990s “Train Ads” signs but not by much.

Now, can we start seeing working PIDs on Kinetic buses that aren’t on SmartBus routes? Just about every late-model Kinetic bus has SmartBus PIDs installed so it’s not like it’s due to a lack of vehicles (if it’s a Volgren Optimus or a Gemilang it most likely has PIDs, it’s only the ex-Ventura fleet which don’t have them). SmartBus PIDs used to work on normal routes back in the early Transdev era but it was turned off in the last few years so now they endlessly spam “Please remember to validate your MYKI” (I think this replaced the generic “Welcome” message the original SmartBuses used to have when the system was offline). Unless it has been deleted since, the former Transdev network used to have every single stop programmed into the PIDs, the only thing it didn’t have were the corresponding voice announcements so most of the time you’d just get “The next stop is…” with no street name unless it was in the database (by virtue of having an identical name to an existing SmartBus stop).

Also, life extension refurbishment, but still no PIDs on Z3 trams? Speaking of trams, the E class PIDs are terrible. They scroll way too fast and the route number is on the wrong side. Can we rip them out and use the vastly superior A/B/C class ones? Likewise with D class, although they are at least readable when they’re not broken (the green destos are hopeless at night though, and for some reason, some of the trams tend to leak in the rain which then gets into PIDs and shorts them out).

Unrelated but I wish there’s a solution to internal displays on trains changing at Flinders Street. I know the drivers are usually busy with changing trains so don’t have the next roster on to show what the train is changing to but it’s a bit chaotic with passengers having to peek their head out to see if they can stay on the train or change to another train.

I have seen it in the “newer” buses for around a year now, it does display it on the front and side, it interchanges with the destination on them. Also on the inside is a monitor that displays how long til departure and what stops are upcoming and how far they are.

I saw this departure countdown displayed on buses in central Cranbourne late last year. Not sure who the operator is down there.

Okay, I hope to see these in the western suburbs soon, Here in Delahey, we have CDC Melbourne (operating 418 along Taylors Road, 425 along Copperfield Drive and 461 along Hume Drive) and Transit Systems (operating 420 along Kings Road).

And Alan, you are thinking of Cranbourne Transit, although Ventura operates a few buses at Cranbourne Station as well.

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