A Customer’s Guide to Real Time

Real Time tracking is fitted to all Nottingham City Transport buses and helps you know when your bus is due to arrive.

A satellite system tracks buses as they are driving along their route and then predicts the time it will arrive at each stop. This information is then sent to the electronic displays at bus stops, our app and our website.

With our app and website, you can save your favourite stops, which gives you quick and easy access to the times of buses at the stop or stops you use the most.

All of our buses are also fitted with electronic next stop displays inside the bus and nearly every bus now has next stop audio announcements. These show you the destination of your bus and the name of the next stop to help you know exactly where to get off.

Working in partnership

There are 1020 bus stop displays across our network, with another 400 to be fitted.

Real Time Display and Bus Stop

These displays are funded, installed and maintained by Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council. These councils also fund and maintain other infrastructure at stops, such as shelters and timetable cases. This provides more information at stops as well as somewhere comfortable and sheltered to wait.

Several busy road junctions in the Nottinghamshire County Council area now talk to our Real Time system. If a late bus arrives at one of these junctions, the traffic lights change to green and the bus gets priority, helping to get the bus back to time.

Real Time helps us help you! 

Control Room

Behind the scenes, Real Time plays an important part in ensuring our buses run efficiently:

On a daily basis, our 24/7 Control Room is monitoring buses and making adjustments to service to keep the impact of any incidents or issues to a minimum.  Every bus has radio contact with the Control Room who can quickly respond to any problems.

Our Route Planners use the historic tracking data when reviewing routes and timetables. This ensures we give the drivers enough time to run their routes and importantly ensures your bus runs to time!


What’s the difference between Scheduled and Real Time? 

Sometimes, a display may be showing a scheduled time (e.g. 10:32 below). This happens when the signal on the bus is not transmitting or being received. When a bus is shown as a scheduled time, the bus will only appear on the display until that time.

Real Time Waiting at Bus Stop

It will then change to the next bus, even if the bus hasn’t passed the stop because the system does not know when the bus will arrive.

Where a bus is being tracked, the time will count down, in minutes, until the bus arrives (e.g. 5 mins).

How is the prediction calculated?

The prediction is calculated based on the location of the bus as it passes stops on the route. Each stop acts as a trigger point to predict arrivals at subsequent stops on the route.

Prediction Going Up or Not Changing?

In most cases, the arrival time of the bus will count down each minute until the bus arrives at the stop.

Sometimes, the time may go up, a bus may ‘disappear’ or appear to be stuck on the same arrival time. This happens because the bus has been held up on route as it makes its way to your stop. Once the bus passes a stop, the system recalculates the arrival time for stops still to be served.

How do the scrolling information messages work on the bus stop displays?

When there are incidents, road closures or diversions, a message will appear on the bus stop displays. These messages are not automatically generated and are programmed for us by Nottingham City Council. Our Control Room keeps in close contact with the City Council at all times to ensure these messages are shown as quickly as possible.