See also: Timetable
File:1844 LIRR schedule.jpg

A public transport timetable is a listing of the times that public transport services arrive and depart specified locations. Timetables are published in various forms from comprehensive books covering an entire system or continent to small cards that list the departure times from a single location.

General Edit

In the U.S., timetables for bus lines and some transit operations are called schedules instead.

In some large cities, such as London and New York, some rapid transit and urban bus services that run to a timetable are so frequent that consulting the timetable is unnecessary. In some cases public transport operators do not even publish public timetables for the times of day that their services are very frequent, or they may simply state 'services run every 3-5 minutes' (or words to that effect)

The first railway timetable compilation was published in 1839 by George Bradshaw.

In many modern public transport systems, timetables and rostering are designed by computer, with the operators specifying operating span, minimum frequencies, route length/time and other such factors. Design of the schedule may also aim to keep times memorable for customers, through the use of "clockface" timetabling—services departing at regular intervals, at the same times every hour.

Varieties Edit

File:Bus timetable.JPG

Tables with services in columns Edit

Many timetables comprise tables with services shown in columns of a table, and stations or stops on the rows of the table.

There will generally be tables for each direction, and often separate (pairs of) tables for weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Generally the times for each station or stop will be the departure time, except for the last stop of the service which will be the arrival time. At some stops if the service stops for some time, both arrival and departure times might be shown on consecutive rows.

As well as the times, the columns might include other information, often at the top of the columns, such as day(s) of operation, availability of on-board facilities such as refreshments, and a service number.

Tables with services in rows Edit

Timetables with services arranged in rows of tables and stops or stations in columns are less common but otherwise similar to timetables with services in columns.

Times listed for a given stop Edit

Some timetables, particularly posted on railway stations and bus stops, list times that services depart that location, sometimes along with other information such as destinations and stopping conditions.

As with other forms, there may be separate lists for different days of the week.

Dynamic displays Edit

Dynamic displays in stations may be at a central place and list the next few departures for each line, or all departures for the next hour. Displays on platforms just show the next departure (or perhaps the next few) from that platform.

Journey planners Edit

Internet-based programs allow one to enter departure and destination locations, as well as date, and departure or arrival time. These journey planners then give suitable departure times, with details for the whole journey. These may comprise more than one service or mode.

Formats Edit

Timetables are published as books, booklets, folded or plain cards or paper, posters, on-line in HTML, pdf, and other formats, printed, hand-written on posters or blackboards, back-lit displays, and SMS messages [1].

Thomas Cook Publishing has published timetable books showing the schedules of major European railway services since 1873 (appearing monthly since 1883) and also produces a similar bi-monthly volume covering public transport services in the rest of the world. [2]


  1. For an example of an SMS timetable, see Connex Melbourne's SMS timetable service
  2. According to the Thomas Cook web-site (retrieved 6 March 2007)

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