[EDIT 19 Oct 2023: Issue now resolved.
As the result of some enhanced error management (we recently introduced) - the Countdown service has been working very smoothly for the past few days. We are now closing this issue]
Please post comments below if you have any feedback or questions.
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR ‘BUS’ OPEN DATA USERS:
We are currently experiencing an intermittent performance drop issue with our Countdown API and Unified API data feeds.
IMPACT: this is likely to intermittently affect 3rd party apps and digital products (alongside our TfL digital products) that are using disruption and other realtime bus data.
We have addressed issues that were occurring most mornings around 7:30-7:45am, and are actively analysing the issues around these drop outs in performance outside these times
We still have a lot of data to analyse around these incidents so please bear with us.
This a high priority issue, we will continue to monitor over the weekend and will provide an update as soon as we have some news.
Thank you for your patience.
How would these problems manifest themselves for the user out and about?
Yhis morning I found myself wanting to know which bus route was coming when at Osidge Library, served by the 125, 184 and 382. On Bus Times London, the 125 consistently returned results, the 382 consistently said “see timetable” and the 184 oscillated between the two.
What was apparent however was that when the 184 was showing results they bore no relation to what was actually happening. First off, a bus was due in 2 minutes. It never showed. Then (after a “see timetable” period) a bus was due in 5 minutes - but one turned up immediately.
At first sight the 125 looked more reliable. Bus due, it told me. Then (before the bus turned up) 11 minutes - but the due bus turned up a couple of minutes later. OK, not too bad but when my bus was at Southgate ASDA, London Vehicle Finder still showed it as due at Osidge Library 5 minutes earlier, even though other buses had had their next stop updated. It then caught up with itself.
After a bit of shopping, I boarded another 125. Bus Times London was telling me that the next bus would have been in 27 minutes but given the issues earlier I had very little faith in this.
The point here is that the information which was being presented appeared to be unreliable. Unreliable information can be worse than no information, particularly if there is no flag on the app to warn passengers.
Is what I observed consistent with the problem headlined in that thread? It also occurs to me that it seems more consistent with issues with the inputs from buses than the outputs to the apps.
Hi, these problems do not affect the dot-matrix displays at bus stops, but do affect live bus times almost everywhere else, including the TfL website, TfL Go and third-party applications.
I cannot comment on how this would affect users of third-party apps because it would depend on what they would do with the data. But users of the TfL website and TfL Go might at times see missing predictions (i.e. a bus is missing from the list of upcoming buses) or outdated predictions (the times still count down, but are not factoring in the latest information, e.g. bus delays due to traffic).
I’m not sure whether what you observed is related to the recent issues or due to other factors (e.g. a bus was not logged into the system). The recent issues are not to do with inputs from buses, but rather the Countdown API.
The inconsistency suggests it is not unlogged in buses for much of what I saw (though it could explain the 27 minute gap reported). It is consistent with what you describe in your second paragraph.
Neither Bus Tomes London nor London Vehicle Finder seem to display a caveat about the current quality of the data. I suppose that is not surprising given that they can have no idea whether the problem will be sorted within hours, days or weeks.
Issue now resolved - see edits in main post