This page lists some frequently (or potentially) asked questions about the LTSV website. If there is a question you would like to see added, just let me know.
What are service vehicles?
Since Victorian times, London has had an extensive network of public transport services, including buses, trams, trolleybuses, and both surface and underground trains. From 1933 until the mid-1980s the majority of these were provided by an organisation called London Transport, and despite numerous changes since then this name is still used colloquially for the bus and tube services. The operation of the network involved a large number of vehicles, both to carry passengers and to support the operations. The latter fleet is the subject of this web site, and such vehicles are commonly referred to as service vehicles.
The service vehicle fleet has included a variety of types, with standard lorries, vans and cars being the most common. More specialised vehicles include tankers, tow trucks and mobile generators while in the past there have also been ambulances, fire engines, cranes, gully emptiers, overhead wire tower wagons and lubricators, tree pruners, mobile canteens and tractors. Other miscellaneous items covered include trailers, demountable bodies and sweepers.
Which companies are covered?
The companies covered by this website fall into one of four categories:
1. The central fleet comprises vehicles in the London-wide operations of London Transport (LT), Transport for London (TfL), London Buses (LBSL) and London Underground (LUL). Vehicle used by London Trams (in Croydon) are also now part of the central fleet.
2. London Country Bus Services (LCBS) ran bus services in the area surrounding Greater London from 1970 (when it was created out of the former Country area of LT) until it was split into four regional companies in 1986.
3. Bus companies that run LT/TfL tendered services within London are covered, as are other bus operators running in the Home Counties (including the descendants of LCBS).
4. Certain other related companies are covered, such as the main bus recovery and engineering firms and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) operator. Other companies may feature in photos but not in the vehicle database, including transport operators from further outside London and abroad.
Service vehicles used in support of 'National Rail' operations are not covered, although details of these can now be found on another LTSV website at LTSV-RRV
Why create this website?
For many years you could buy books listing the bus and train fleets of London Transport. These usually included a list of service vehicles at the back, so there was fairly wide knowledge of the fleet. From the mid-1980s the SV lists were no longer included in the books and information became hard to find, only LOTS (the London Omnibus Traction Society) publishing occasional details. When I needed to gain some practical web design skills in 2002, I felt that the subject of service vehicles was suitable as it had not yet been covered on the internet. The site was originally intended to be quite modest, but over time, huge quantities of data and photographs have been received.
How does this website work? What software was used?
This website uses a MySQL database for the data and PHP for the pages. Apart from installing these, the only software used was Notepad++ (for coding the pages) and Paint Shop Pro X2 (for preparing the photos and graphics). Google Chrome was the browser used during development, with pages also being tested in Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge.
How accurate / up-to-date is the information on this website?
It has to be said that part of the appeal of service vehicles (to me at least!) is that the information is not easily obtainable. Very few of the companies involved are willing to provide details of their vehicles, and the site is mainly reliant on observations reported by members. As such, the accuracy and comprehensiveness can never be 100%, but the more people get involved, the better it will become. Rather perversely, we know more about the service vehicle fleet of the 1940s/1950s/1960s than the current fleet, since back then London Transport kept detailed records (which have now been conserved at the LT Museum).
I've seen a vehicle that is not listed. What should I do?
Firstly, please don't keep it to yourself! Send me a message (e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the Contact Us page on this website) and I will make sure that the vehicle gets added to the database.
Can I upload my own photos?
LTSV is very reliant on contributors for the photos shown on the site, and I would be glad to hear from anyone interested in sharing their photos. However, for security reasons, users cannot directly upload their photos. Instead, just e-mail the photo/s (along with details of date, location etc) to email@example.com. Note that not all received photos are used.
Why do some people report multiple sightings of the same vehicle?
People interested in service vehicles tend to be 'spotters', and in many cases they consider that once a vehicle has been seen once, it can be ignored. However, I would encourage users to report any sighting of a service vehicle, even if it has been seen before. The reason for this is that the vehicle allocation information shown on this website is based entirely on reported sightings. For example, a sighting of an LUL van passing through Barkingside would tend to suggest it was allocated to Hainault. It the same vehicle was then seen at Grange Hill, this would increase the certainty.
Why do some of the pages take a long time to load?
The database that runs this website is quite large, with (for example) over 100,000 sightings listed. Because of this, some pages can take a while to load, particularly where they have to perform 'aggregate' functions (such as counting the number of sightings for each vehicle). The pages have been optimised as much as possible but if you find any are particularly slow, please get in touch.
Is there a mobile version or an app?
In short, no. Given that much of the data on this website is presented in (often large) tables, it was considered that it would only really work on a PC or laptop. Having said that, I do access the site using my mobile phone and it works reasonably well. LTSV is not on Social Media, because I am not very sociable!