TfL starts using AI: meet the ‘TravelBot’

Group says its new chatbot perfectly complements its already highly popular Journey Planner tool, and will also ‘learn’ as it works with commuters and travellers to the capital

Posted 14 June 2017 by


Transport for London (TfL) has launched the next generation in customer service technology with its first ever ‘TravelBot’.

The new social media tool, powered by artificial intelligence, can “chat” with customers using Messenger and instantly tell them when their bus is due to arrive, provide service updates and Tube maps.

The ‘bot can also link direct to a customer service agent, making customer service queries easier than ever.

TfL already deals with a huge number of queries every day through its two Facebook pages, it says, and the new technology is there to make it even easier for customers to get information on the Messenger platform in a way that’s fast and straightforward.

Features of the new service include:

  • Bus arrivals customers can check when their bus is due to arrive by simply sharing their location or providing the bus stop code available at every bus stop. This will be particularly beneficial for customers at bus stops that don’t display ‘countdown’ information
  • Bus route status customers can ask for bus service updates, including information on bus route diversions
  • Service updates customers can ask for the latest service updates for the Tube, TfL Rail, London Overground, DLR and London Trams
  • Maps the TravelBot can provide Tube, Night Tube and rail maps
  • Message an agent the TravelBot can refer customers to a customer service agent.

Even better, as people use the service, it will “learn” and become even more precise, says TfL, and the group says it will explore the possibility of further features in the future, including providing journey planning information and status alerts.

The move is the latest, TfL claims, in its mission to keep providing new channels for customer information, and making its data more widely available.

The body claims it’s been a leader in the open data movement, with more than 600 apps now powered by the data from its APIs.

To play with the the TfL TravelBot, search for ‘TfL TravelBot’ on Facebook, or go here.

The issues raised by AI, chatbots and other advanced technologies for the UK public sector will be discussed at September’s London Think AI for Public Sector 2017 conference – please go here to find out more.