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TfL Gives Automated Travel Advice New Facebook Messenger Chatbot

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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TravelBot hopes to make travelling in London easier using TfL’s famed datasets and AI assistance

Transport for London (TfL)’s new chatbot will let passengers ask about the status of individual lines, transit times and ask questions on Facebook Messenger.

Chatbots are pitched as a way of helping customer service teams respond to common queries and as anyone who is a regular observer of TfL’s online presences will know, it gets a lot. Passengers can already ask individual tube lines questions about service via Direct Messenger on Twitter.

With ‘TravelBot’, TfL hopes that Facebook Messenger can save customers (and its staff) time simply by asking questions in normal everyday language such as “How is the Victoria Line today?”

TfL Chatbot

TfL chatbot

Users can also ask for bus arrivals using a bus stop code, ask for the status of a particular bus route, tram, tube line, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and London Overground service.

“We wanted to make it even easier for customers to get our information on the Facebook platform in a way that’s fast and straightforward,” said TfL. “With the open data in our Unified API already helping to provide live information on many services like third-party apps and Twitter alerts, we hope this will be another big step towards enabling customers to quickly and easily access the information they need via social media.”

The service is complementary to the existing TfL Facebook page and uses the same datasets.

TfL has long been considered a good example of how open data can be used to improve public services as its API is available to third party developers. In 2016 it agreed to share street data with Google-owned Waze in exchange for real time crowdsourced traffic information.

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