Gulf war satellites track the No 73 bus

A space age solution is at hand for passengers on London buses who complain that they 'wait half an hour then three come at once.

American satellites used for tracking attack aircraft and monitoring Allied forces during the Gulf War are monitoring the progress of No 73 buses along their Victoria to Stoke Newington route in a trial to eliminate bunching.

Leaside Buses are testing a Global Positioning System (GPS) which relies on US military satellites orbiting the earth at a height of 12,500 miles.

They beam down a high frequency signal to a receiver fitted on to the bus.

A computer pinpoints the location of the vehicle by calculating longitude and latitude co-ordinates and that information is then transmitted directly to the bus control room where staff can track it on an electric screen. The whole procedure takes about a second.

The system, which would cost pounds 350,000 to pounds 400,000 for a fleet of 160 buses, is already used by emergency service vehicles and other public transport systems around Britain, but Leaside is the first London bus company to carry out trials.

According to Bob Pennyfather, Leasides' operation planning manager, the No 73 tests have yielded 'extremely successful results' and the subsidiary is awaiting a decision on bus privatisation and further trials before it commits itself to the satellite link.

'The tests showed we were able to track our buses very accurately, to between 30 and 100 metres,' Mr Pennyfather said.

'If we do decide to have the system it will help us co-ordinate our buses when we are faced with terrorist attacks, burst water mains and all the other problems that are a part of life in London.' Keith Weightman, the customer services manager, said something had to be done to prevent buses turning up in convoys.

'By the time we have found out that there's a problem holding up the traffic and causing the buses to bunch, it's too late. They have passed the point of no return.

'With this system we can ask them to transfer their passengers to the bus behind or in front and then re-route the empty buses to avoid the congestion.'

Buses on the No 73 route could go out of service, driven through back streets to skirt a hold-up and rejoin the route further on, or switch direction and go back to a terminus.

'Given the increasing number of roadworks and marches in London these days, something has to be done to help the buses get through,' he added.

At present controllers radio drivers to ask where they are and how bad traffic is, but that is considered time-No 73 drivers know little about the satellites, however, and are not convinced the link will ease their jobs.

Grabbing a break between shifts at Victoria station, - he was unwilling to disclose his surname - said it would put more pressure on drivers who are already battling against traffic jams.

'It's a way for them to spy on us, keep checks on where we are. It shows a lack of trust.

'We bunch up all the but it all depends on the traffic. This last winter was so bad that at one point I remember a line of about ten of us down near King's Cross sitting there for hours.

'But at the moment we are much more worried about privatisation than about some bloody satellite in space.'

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    MBDA UK Ltd: Mission Planning and Control Solutions Systems Engineer

    Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? A pro-act...

    MBDA UK Ltd: System Design Capability

    Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? The small...

    Recruitment Genius: Time Served Fabricator / Welders - Immediate Start

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fabricator welder required for ...

    Recruitment Genius: Inbound Customer Service Advisors

    £14564 - £15311 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound Customer Service Adviso...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific