Improved bus stop names

3 May 2017 by Jonathan Raper

You may not be aware that every bus stop in the UK has a name. Certainly bus passengers will tend to happily travel without knowing the name their bus stop, however bus stop names are a useful bit of data, typically forming part of transport application search result displays or timetable displays.

We made an improvement to the “name” field we provide for bus stops. This field will now provide a more useful (compact but not ambiguous) name because it will sometimes give a stand/bay number/letter in brackets on the end.

For example the stop outside our office gets the name
"name":"St. Annes Church (Stop T)".

“Stop T” is an “indicator” value. It will sometimes be added to the name in order to make it more unique and recognisable. We add it when an indicator value is supplied, but only if the format of that value seems appropriate. We’ll explain what I mean by that in a future blog post, but mostly we’re doing this so you don’t have to worry about it! The “name” field is our best attempt at joining together and filtering source data fields to give you a useful bit of text to display to users.

The changes

We’ve made minor changes to the “name” fields which we hope will make it more useful, but we’ve also added some new fields giving you access to raw values for the components of the name, in case you wish to compose your display text differently. These changes can be seen across several different bus data API endpoints. We’re now generally returning the following fields for a bus stop:

  • name – New and improved, sometimes including the indicator in brackets
  • stop_name – A more raw ‘name’ value without indicator, taken from source data
  • indicator – The indicator value, warts & all
  • bearing – Compass bearing, for rough direction a bus is heading when it stops at this stop

Although available before, these fields are now consistently present in the lists returned by bus/stops/near, and bus/stops/bbox, in the fields towards the top of a stop live, and stop timetable request, and in the list of calling stops of a bus route request.

As mentioned above, we will have another blog post with a bit more detail about the quirks we’ve found (and tidied up for you), particularly within the ‘indicator’ field of the source data. We also have some additional new fields in relation to bus departures data to report on in a blog post coming soon.