TfL will never make the ultimate travel app - but there is a very good reason

Apple Pay in the UK
Apple Pay in the UK

Transport for London doesn't currently have its own app on Android, iOS or any other platform - and techradar has learnt there are no plans to create one in the future.

The lack of a TfL dedicated app has frustrated and lead to a high usage of alternative apps such as Citymapper.

Transport for London has made all its information such as bus stop locations, timetables and even GPS movements open to the public since 2003 and believes developers having easy access to this data to create their own apps is the way forward rather than making a dedicated app.

Competition is good

Shashi Verma, director of customer experience at TfL, told techradar, "There are over 360 apps using TfL data - Citymapper is probably the most commonly used app that uses our data.

"The impact of all of this [using the data] is that rather than spending huge amounts of money in developing apps ourselves, we can spend a small amount of money in publishing all the data. If you look at all the data published so far it's probably cost less than £1 million."

The information included in third-party apps comes directly from APIs that TfL has made itself, so each app has the same real-time data.

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"If you look at the bus system for example, there are GPS devices on every bus that transfer information to a central computer and then we do a predictive analysis on how long it'll take that bus to arrive along the road and publish that.

"The information you see in these apps is the same information you see on the bus stop as well. It's all being done in real time and it updates every second."

Citymapper and other transport apps don't do any further analysis of the data - it's all official information coming directly from London's transport system.

"There have been no complaints about the accuracy of the data. What happens here is the app developers are picking up our feed - they're not doing any further analysis on that."

But there is another

There is an opening for a dedicated TfL app, though, that the company may decide to make in the future.

"The one thing we have reserved for ourselves is a payment app for Oyster, contactless, payment and banking information."

Five million people currently hold accounts with TfL and this would act as a simpler version of the online interface.

"We're not talking about new functionality but it would offer the same information as the web.

"The one thing the app could do is send you alerts - when something happens in your account we may be able to send you an alert in a more efficient way than sending an email."

So don't expect to be able to use your phone as your TfL season pass anytime soon - that doesn't seem to be something the company is interested in and payment wise you're going to be restricted to Apple Pay or Android Pay when it launches.

James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.