bus stop graphic

Bus Stops

Why bus stops are important

Bus stops are the point of transition where an enquiry starts to become a journey. It is where an itinerary previously obtained from traveline is about to spring to life. We hope!

All the information at the bus stop needs to give confidence, through being well presented and up to date. It is important that the location and name of the stop has been accurately provided to traveline.

What goes on the flag?

Unless special dispensation has been sought, a bus stop flag should conform to the Traffic Signs and Signals regulations which include requirements for a standard design to be used for a bus stop flag. Additional information can be located below this and may include the traveline logo.


Failure to adhere to these regulatations could lead to difficulties in enforcing bus stop clearways. However there is quite a lot of flexibility in the regulations and they could be interpretted as being met provided:

Below the "traffic sign" part of the bus stop flag, other information can be added. This adds to the costs of the sign and increases maintenance liabilities, especially if the information changes. On the other hand bus stop flags are an opportunity to promote public transport. What other activity is able to advertise itself in 360,000 prominent locations in communities throughout the UK at the point where people are likely to congregate? And we should not underestimate the ability of well presented bus stop flags, consistently applied along the main road into a town, to change perceptions of public transport, and even improve the first impressions of visitors to the town.

The most common additional items of information on bus stop flags are:

Stable Stop Specific Most liable to change
Local authority branding Name of stop Operator name
Enquiry telephone number Fares stage or zone Route branding
Enquiry website Txt code Route numbers
Towards (next place)

Putting the route numbers on every bus stop flag is a lot of work. Some authorities only do this where a lot of people use the stops and may find it difficult to consult the timetable display, or where bus routes only stop at one of several bus stops in a line. It is usual for the operator name to appear alongside the route number.

The name of the bus stop is useful confirmation to people arriving at the stop that they have found the right one. The name on the flag can help passengers on the bus know where they are. The sample bus stop flag layouts shown on this page have the location name in a format used at interchanges in Derbyshire, where C is a stand or stop letter code.

Bus stop name

If these fields are drawn from the NaPTAN database the objective is that they should match the names used on the traveline itineraries, on real time displays and be printed on tickets. Black lettering on Yellow has been selected to provide maximum visibility to passengers on the bus.

The "towards (next place)" information can be very useful to passengers and helps promote the destinations available. However the appropriate entries are unlikely to be readily available in NaPTAN and have to be carefully selected to take account of different bus routes. The messages also have to be consistent from one stop to the next so as to be relevant to passengers travelling on the buses.

If full information about the TXT system is included in the roadside display there is little value in having the TXT code on the flag. However if only some stops have timetable displays it may be more straightforward to print the TXT code on all the flags. If bus stop flags or vinyls are being printed with the bus stop name then usually the TXT code can be printed from the NaPTAN database at the same time at little or no extra cost.

Go to Design Guidelines and downloadable graphics which include versions of the traveline logo which are suitable for display on bus stop flags.

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Lancs bus stop graphic

Timetable display cases

Download the ATCO Good Practice Guidelines for Public Transport Information .

These guidelines provide useful information about:

The cost of keeping roadside information up to date are considerable and is causing some authorities to reduce the number of displays they can maintain. The display on the right is an example from Lancashire of the information they are displaying at some stops instead of departure times. Click on the display to download a full size version.

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Bus stop location references

Information about the location and naming of bus stops is maintained on a national basis using
NaPTAN and National Gazetteer records.

Some local authorities link this information to the bus stop inventory systems which record much more information about the bus stop including the type of pole, flag, display, kerb, paving, shelter, litter bin, seats, electronic information etc, and dates when maintenance or information updates occured.

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Where to put new bus stops?

Guidance is available in the DfT document, Inclusive Mobility, particularly
Chapter 6.

Can people waiting for the bus see it coming then have a clear path to the doors when the bus arrives? Narrow gaps, litter bins, information boards, and real time equipment can all get in the way if not placed carefully.

Clutter at the bus stop in Nottingham Click to enlarge Clutter at the bus stop in Edinburgh Click to enlarge

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What makes a bus stop accessible?

London TravelWatch has campaigned to ensure that bus stops are accessible, which means ensuring

DfT is collecting data to support accessible journey planning. Accessible Journey Planning is now available in Transport Direct and enables journeys to be planned that have step free routes and/or offer staff assistance.

Where a journey is coded in the timetable data to be operated by a wheelchair accessible vehicle, then by default all bus stops that the journey serves are considered to be accessible. However a Transport Authority can override this by notifying DfT of any stops that are inaccessible.

When someone specifies that they need a step free journey, if the stops immediately adjacent to their origin or destination are not accesssible then they will be offered the closest accessible points from which they can proceed to plan their travel. They will need to arrange their own transport or a taxi to get to the point selected.

The functionality to deliver the accessible journey planner is now built into the MDV systems and will soon also be available in the Trapeze and JourneyPlan systems that provide information to Transport Direct. Traveline regions will be able to utilise this functionality in their own regional journey planners if they wish.

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© Traveline 2013, Last updated: 23 July 2013