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It may not be an actual problem, but it’s definitely annoying to climb up the stairs of a double-decker bus only to slink back down because there are no free seats. So be glad London is working to make sure you never unnecessarily exert yourself again.
A new technology from Transport for London (TfL), the city’s mass transit organization, will use preexisting closed-circuit television (CCTV) setups in the double-decker buses to monitor how many people are upstairs. The data will show up on a display downstairs so passengers can know whether or not they should climb to the top.
Rather than embedding expensive sensors, this system adds a software component to the CCTV systems already built in: it takes a a high-res image and scans it to determine the number of bodies occupying the seats. Since the technology will work on preexisting video setups, it’s not as privacy-invasive as you might think. At least, it’s not any more invasive than what London’s already doing.
We doubt anyone is really worried about people climbing stairs unnecessarily (barring any falls, at least it’s good exercise). The new service is part of a larger TfL effort to make moving through London more efficient. Along with these seat monitors and pedestrian trackers, double-decker buses are now being outfitted with monitors that track the bus paths and show nearby landmarks with live updates about station closures. The idea is to save passengers from bothering drivers for information about the city’s complex layout. At the very least, it sounds helpful for Google Maps-dependent travelers who don’t want to pay for data roaming.
The live maps are already active on several London buses, and the seat counters will first appear on Number 12 route buses in the next couple weeks. They may not make finding a seat on a bus may not get any easier, but at least they’ll stop you getting your hopes up.
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