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A web app for real time ACTION Bus arrivals in Canberra, Australia
JavaScript HTML CSS Python Processing
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When will the next bus come? mockup - A web app for real time bus ACTION bus arrivals in Canberra, Australia.

Try it on your smartphone!


While the software for planning trips is well established (such as Google Maps) I found it was still a chore to find when the next bus would arrive. The LED screens at major bus stations are helpful but they may only show 5 buses at a time - which may not include the one you are looking for. I created for the sole purpose of finding when the next bus on a route will depart from a given stop.

The use case

  1. Open the web app from the home screen of your smartphone
  2. Type the first few letters of the bus stop you are at and select from the menu
  3. If there is more than one route departing select the desired bus route
  4. See how many minutes and seconds until the bus arrives in real time

Technical details

To run an instance of the web app you will need to apply for an ACTION NXTBUS API key. You will receive the key in an email along with some documentation. To keep your key private the app receives the key as the environment variable NXTBUS_API_KEY (described in the Running App section)

This web app uses:

  • Python Tornado as a non-blocking web server
  • Processing to visualise the information, translated into JavaScript and shown on an HTML5 Canvas
  • Heroku for hosting
  • npm for managing Gulp dependencies and installing bower (package.json)
  • Bower for managing front end dependencies (bower.json)
  • Gulp used to compile SCSS, lint JavaScript and minify (gulpfile.js)

Development prerequisites

On Mac OSX, first install Homebrew: ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

Install Node


brew update

brew install -g node


sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install nodejs

Install Pip (Python package manager)

As per


sudo python

Installing dependencies

  1. Clone repository git clone cd

  2. Install Node dependencies npm install

  3. Install Bower dependencies bower install (you must do this after installing Node dependencies as that will install Bower)

  4. Python dependencies sudo pip install -r requirements.txt

Running app


Where APIKEY is your key:


You can add this line to your ~/.bashrc file to skip this step in future.

Lint JavaScript and build SCSS files


Start server

python --host=HOST

Where HOST is IP address or domain. For testing on local machine, use localhost, for testing on local network (including smartphones) use local IP address (ifconfig)

About project

I developed this web app through year 12 as part of my media studies, and later released it as open source under the GPL license. If you have any comments or suggestions please don't hesitate to contact me at

See more of my work at

License, a web app to answer the question of "When will the next bus come?" Copyright (C) 2016 Jake Coppinger

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see

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