Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.
Earlier today, we brought you Commuter, a fairly all-encompassing London-centric iOS app that centralizes all the key data conduits for those looking to traverse from A to B.
Whilst we lamented the lack of bus information within the app, it’s not exactly the end of the world, as there are other options. For example, we’ve previously covered BusIt London, the mobile-friendly Web app and Bus Guru which gives you live bus times and optimum routes. But who needs dedicated mobile travel apps when there’s Twitter?
When’s My Bus is an automated Twitter bot that tells you what time London buses are arriving at close to you, tapping Transport for London’s (TfL) real-time data and your current location.
So, if you have GPS-enabled phone (who doesn’t these days?), you’ll have to include your current location in your Tweet – to do so, Twitter has produced a set of guidelines for iOS and Android devices, and it’s really straight forward. Then, all you need to do is tweet your desired bus number to @whensmybus, alongside your bus number.
You’ll receive a tweet back almost instantly telling you the latest bus times for up to two of the next scheduled buses from each of the stops nearest to you. An example of which looks roughly like this:
@haloolah 10 Latymer Court to Hammersmith 0814 0819 0825; Latymer Court to King’s Cross 0813 0832 0838
— When’s My Bus? (@whensmybus) April 16, 2012
If you prefer to be coy about your exact location, or if you don’t have a mobile phone with GPS (I mean, really…) then you can still use the service by entering ‘from [placename]’ instead, for example you could enter: @whensmybus 28 from Wandsworth Bridge Road.
If you’re really in to privacy, you can also send a Direct Message. First, you must follow the account and it will automatically follow you back. The only downside to this is that you can’t add your GPS location to a Direct Message.
There are other similar initiatives out there that put Twitter to use, such as TrackThis, which lets you track packages sent by UPS, Fedex, USPS, DHL and other carriers.
As for this When’s My Bus, well, if you’re looking for directions or if you don’t know what bus you should be getting in the first place, this probably won’t be for you. But if you want a simple answer to a simple question, then this is one Twitter bot you should check out.
H/T: Jaime Novoa
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