Missing bus from countdown system

One of my users was on a specific bus - YX68UOY running on route H17 about an hour ago. This bus isn’t tracking anywhere on the countdown system even though it is running.

It’s not uncommon for the kit on a bus not to work properly. From the passenger’s point of view a bus that is missing from Countdown is better than a bus that is out of service purely because it cannot communicate with the system. (Indeed, if an unexpected bus appears this passenger is pleased rather than hacked off with it not being on the app!) It is also quite common for new buses not to report initially, I think.

The more worrying failures are when a whole route barely reports. I think this is sometimes due to the loaded schedule differing from the one actually operated for a few days but it seems to happen sometimes even when there is no schedule change.

I understand, but how can I report this so that the right people can investigate? The bus still isn’t appearing on countdown.

Believe me, I deal with daily complaints about buses that just show up without showing up - in this instance at least I had specifics.

I suppose it depends how confident we are that it is (a) already known about and (b) will be fixed quickly. If we are there is no point complaining as nothing on earth will make the bus report until the fix is done. The cynic in me says that if there is no disincentive to just letting it carry on for weeks then that is exactly what will happen sometimes. (On one of my local routes, the 299, a couple of buses have been showing just the route number on a bit of card for months, which is particularly unhelpful if the bus is turning short - same argument on disincentives).

What would be useful is some insight into how this is managed by TfL and how, if at all, users could assist in that process. While too few buses ought to be a red flag, unless it is extreme like the 174 it may genuinely be that they are unable to put out the full allocation, in which case it is a symptom of a worse problem, from the passenger point of view.

A quick fix might be transfer working kit to a different bus, in which case we might see a New Routemaster apparently operating on some pokey minibus route! But that misidentification would only affect bus enthusiasts, not yer average passenger.

I think you are deviating from the topic, I didn’t mean to discuss the possibilities or probabilities of what’s wrong a d how it could be fixed. There is a specific bus which is running and it isn’t reporting on countdown - can this information be passed to the right people or can I be pointed to where I can report it.

Hello, the best way to report these kinds of issues is through our online form:

In the “What’s your enquiry about?” drop-down, please select “Information, publicity and countdown”.

If possible, it would also be useful to include information about whether the On Board Next Stop Sign (the dot-matrix screens on the buses that show the name of the next stop) and/or the audio announcements were working.

Presumably we should do the same if the on-bus info isn’t working, even if we have not checked countdown, as the root cause may well be the same.

People do deviate on forums! My point is (i) will reporting actually make any difference to the speed at which it is fixed (if indeed it does get fixed). I’d like to think “yes” but it’s by no means given. I don’t think that is irrelevant.

My second point was that while sorting out identified non-reporters is worthwhile it is probably scratching at the surface as when looking at an app from your desk you can just infer that there are probably non-reporters on a route. Most of them are simply not going to be identifiable.

Yes, if the On Board Next Stop Sign or audio announcements are not working, please report it via our online form with a description of the fault, the location of the sign (upper or lower deck, if applicable), the bus registration or bonnet number as well as the date, time and location that you noticed the issue.

Countdown uses data from the same Automatic Vehicle Location system that provides the on-board information, so there is often a common root cause.

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Thank you so much, this is exactly what I needed.

Of course, but as the creator of this thread, I wanted to achieve something - to report a specific bus as having an issue. I just wanted to make sure that my actual request doesn’t get drowned out by a discussion on whether reporting will actually make a difference.

And reporting can only make things better, it cannot make things worse, so I don’t think it’s even worthwhile to wonder whether it’s worth it or not. I’m not making things worse by reporting it, so that’s the best I can do. How TfL and the bus operators choose to deal with it, is not in my control and I’m not sure discussion potential remedies is more helpful than just reporting when we see things which are not right.

This is why I semi-jokingly suggested in a reply to another thread that TfL should host a webpage that listed each route, it’s expected PVR at that time of day and the number of vehicles currently being reported on (obviously they stop reporting while on stand with the engine turned off), it would make it a lot easier for all parties to spot problems.
Here’s a snippet of my Excel spreadsheet with data from a few minutes ago filtered for any route with 0 buses reported (using the bus route sequences file to obtain route numbers which is why I keep pestering for it to be updated)…
The 146 and 174 should clearly have vehicles being reported, the 399 is probably acceptable as it’s a one bus service interworked with the 389, so I suspect the bus is currently on that route. Hopefully someone in TfL Buses has something similar…