March 30, 2004
In-flight Entertainment

Sometime ago I mentioned that my London Bus Route 79 has some brand new buses. They come equipped with large flat-screen TVs on both the upper and lower decks. For a few weeks they were only screening commercials for local companies - but now they provide a very useful and informing alternative to staring out of the window or reading a book or newspaper. This is what I watched on the way to work this morning:

Come on - admit it - the renaissance has begun - and buses are now the most superior form of transport in London.

TV screen on the bus
(Also you can see another Route79 bus coming in the opposite direction.)

Posted by jag at March 30, 2004 11:38 PM

Wow! TVs inside the buss.. thats awesome!!

Posted by: Chakra on March 31, 2004 10:31 AM

Isn’t it like watching a movie on a plane? I’ve never done that but I don’t imagine it compares favourably to sitting on your sofa. Shouldn’t you be looking out at all the lovely surroundings? I suppose that depends on the bus route… I think news would be a good idea. Otherwise I’d rather look out of the window. The latest showbiz gossip? Updates on Eastenders? They’re turning us into a nation of idiots! I waste too much time in front of the idiot box as it is. Now, wi-fi enabled buses would be a different story…

Posted by: Stu on March 31, 2004 11:49 AM

Stu - Wi-fi enabled buses - isnt that too much of an asking. Besides what is the perpetual need to get connected. You are anyway online at office (I think ) and at home (I hope), so cant life be a little offline for a little while?.
But having Televisions on buses, is an idea to promote more people to go using Public Transport. In my city, some of the buses are fitted with a FM reciever, or a cassette player, and sometimes nice melodies come by in the bus in rush hour crowds.

Posted by: sat on March 31, 2004 12:17 PM

How does the sound work on the bus? Is there any?

Posted by: Marcus on March 31, 2004 04:10 PM

Cor! You know how to make those of us who had to move out into the sticks jealous, don’t you?!

Posted by: Pewari on March 31, 2004 04:47 PM

Thank God I’m in the sticks and don’t have to put up with a TV on the bus. I really don’t want a telly blasting in my ear ‘ole first thing in the morning.

If it’s a sound-free set up then I suppose it’s acceptable.

Posted by: Not Responding on March 31, 2004 07:02 PM

Chakra: sure is!

Stu: I do agree - watching TV on a bus is nothing like watching on the sofa at home. I also agree that staring out the window is more fun. Especially when what’s playing is showbiz gossip and Eastenders - both of which I haven’t got the slightest bit of interest in! And couldn’t agree more with you re WiFi. If only …

Sat: Internet has become so much a part of the fabric of society - and as the lines between “work” and “play” have become so much blurred - the concept of WiFi on the bus is actually (to the likes of people like myself and Stu) very compelling. There is so much that we do by email and web today (for work and for pleasure) that requires is to be connected - being in the bus and being connected is becoming more and more essential. Travelling is becoming the only “time” during which we are “time rich”. See an interesting report on this topic at:

Marcus: no sound - just silent video - with subititles. So - not quite like aeroplane in-flight entertainment. Yet …

Pewari: Apologies - I don’t mean to do so - honest!

NotOnMyWatch: As I said above - it’s sound-free - so it’s not so intrusive. I tend to switch between staring out of window, glancing at the news and listening to my MP3 player all the time.

Posted by: Jag on March 31, 2004 07:58 PM

I suppose next they could try and vary the programmes and combine it with some sort of sound system like on Sat’s buses so that people who fancy could plug in and get sound while the rest get a silent picture.
Then again I wonder if sod’s law would come into play with a great programme starting when you are 2 stops away from work and nothing worth watching when traffic is slow and the journey long.
I really like the screens. Do you think they will roll them out on the 281 ?

Posted by: stroppycow on March 31, 2004 08:55 PM

If internet has become a “part and parcel” of everyday existence - just like the air you and I breathe, think of time 10 years ago, and at that time, many people did manage to live offline (even now, I suppose).
Just remembered, there are some video coaches on long distance routes (that go to other cities in India), where they screen some movie, with sound :) Unfortunately, the quality would be bad or the movie would be old and the bus jerkings never ensure a favorable sitting position, and most people would rather sleep than sit through the movie

Posted by: sat on April 1, 2004 04:00 AM

Ok. Just a thought - Is there a correlation between the increase in london transport fares this year and the introduction of the high tech buses (maybe only route 79 for now). I also understand the congestion charge maybe extended to south kensington and westminster. This time next year - wifi in buses will be sorted. (might take longer to get them on the tube)

Posted by: Remi on April 1, 2004 07:10 AM

Sat - I think having <wireless net access on public [ ] transport would suit everyone. People could download newspaper articles, music, video, check their mail, and even work. (Or do nothing!) One day when we have ubiquitous computing net access will really be like part of the air we breathe. And as Jag points out, commuting time for many people is too valuable to waste it staring into space.

Posted by: Stu on April 1, 2004 07:11 AM

The closest thing we have for a Wi-fi on the public transport is surprisingly, a Wi-fi zone at our Central station -
(though I do nay not know the extent of its popularity). This was done by a company called Dishnet DSL - a quite famous DSL provider here, albeit costly.

Posted by: sat on April 1, 2004 12:35 PM

Strop: roll them out: that’s a very engineering term! You an “engineer” by any chance? You never know - the 281 might get them soon - the deal that TfL has with the bus companies is for almost every route to have buses that are no more than 3 years old I think. I have certainly seen other routes (other than 79) which have got these “TV-screen” buses.

Remi: Quite possibly - but I’m not complaining - as if you use Oyster - then the fares are the same as last year. I think it’s got more to do with company profits paying for better services instead of lining people’s pockets. Also - the congestion charge money is very strictly controlled in terms of what it is spent on. And only a portion goes towards buses. I think the majority goes towards the tube - but I could be wrong.

Stu: couldn’t agree more - I really look forward to the day when high-speed net access is available from where-ever you are!

Sat: WiFi hotspots are all over the place in London. Starbucks, hotels, airports, and even pubs. Yes - it’s expensive here too - but that’s what the market will bear at th moment. Over time it will only get cheaper.

Posted by: Jag on April 1, 2004 07:49 PM

London Transport has already equipped 2000 buses with WI-FI. For their own purposes. The countdown timers you see around london are controlled by the use of Wi-Fi.
From London 2600…

“More questions rather than answers regarding London Bus Countdown bus stop information displays- 2000 out of 6500 buses have peer to peer WiFi WEP encrypted units e.g. SSID j29hCAMBERWELL7m2f, which update the dot matrix displays indirectly (passive black boxes ?) “

Posted by: Peckham on April 25, 2004 04:24 PM
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