Getting Woolwich Ferry Status and Operating Times as a Data Feed

I have posted previously around this topic here: Roadside Variable Message Signs Missing

In summary the operating status and times of the Woolwich Ferry are posted on variable message signs outside each ferry terminal. We have confirmed they aren’t on the existing VMS feed and as the signs are fixed they may not be appropriate for that.

I have contacted TfL and they have confirmed the below regarding the signs:

"The variable message sign on the roundabout is locally controlled by the management team at Woolwich Ferry. The sign is used to display the operating hours and any service delays. Regular messages include:

  • One Vessel Service 0700 – 1900
  • Ferry closed
  • One hour delay
  • Two hour delay

The management team logs onto a web page to update the messages. There is
no data feed."

My question is would there be any way to get that turned into a data feed? The Woolwich Ferry is fully run by TfL now but I’m not sure how we could get the data or who to contact.

Yes, it’s TfL,

Due to a 200-year-old law, the Woolwich Ferry - which links Woolwich and North Woolwich - is the only commuter service TfL is legally obliged to run.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-54383989

Sorry I meant it is fully run by TfL, rather than contracted out to Briggs Marine. Switchover happened in December last year: https://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/18920961.woolwich-ferry-prepares-tfl-takeover-closure/

Hi @justdan96

I know that we’ve never had access to the feed that powers those signs.

I believe that the Network Management Control Centre (NMCC) in Surface Transport is meant to deploy disruption messages when informed by the Woolwich Ferry that service is disrupted. I’ll try to get some clarity on that.

For planned engineering works, my colleagues in the Journey Planner team enter messaging for that (as was the case recently).

You can see this status reflected here:

https://api.tfl.gov.uk/Line/woolwich-ferry/Status

Thanks,
James

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Do you think there is any chance of ever getting access to that feed? It wasn’t clear if it is some sort of TfL owned solution or a 3rd party one for managing the sign text but it would be great to get access to it in some form.

@justdan96

I’m going to say that the answer is probably going to be

it sounds like the control of the sign is handled locally and isn’t an exposed as anything that can be captured by a feed. I’m would guess that the sign is just driven by a small self-contained CPU package and can’t be managed … or hacked … from outside the physical connection.

It seems a bit old-fashioned (ie, 1980s) but I guess there wasn’t any money left over from buying the new ferries,

Just to add I don’t think the status updates are actually accurate, today is shown as “good service” but as the roadside sign shows it is actually down to a 1 boat service.