Now that 2012 is here, the Cultural Olympiad is properly underway. As part of this artistic extravaganza there are twelve regional projects to be enjoyed, and London's is the very wonderful Bus-Tops. If you remember, that's the plan to install slanted screens on the top of various bus shelters around the capital for the entertainment of top deck passengers as they pass by. Even better, these'll be interactive, so you can send in images or ideas or text and these might get broadcast to a transient audience. The project's launch date was January 1st, so I've been out to enjoy the fresh spectacle on London's streets. Except, oh, the entire Bus-Tops website appears to be unobtainable. It's been packed with information for months, but for the last few days everything's vanished behind an unexpected password ("Authorization Required - This server could not verify that you are authorized to access the document requested."). Now that's not going to help. When there are 17500 bus stops in town, and only 30 are due to have Bus-Tops on top, finding the special shelters is going to be difficult. There's a prototypenear Homerton Hospital, you'll recall, but I went to view that yesterday and it appeared to be switched off.
Ah well, I'm sure the launch will be properly documented elsewhere. There's a Twitter account... last tweet 20th December. There's a Facebook page, where even non FB-ers like me can read what's going on and discover what's coming next. And, no, there's nothing about the launch anywhere, nor which lucky locations (one in each London borough) have been selected. If you've seen any out and about, do please let me know! Except, ah, there is a link to a post entitled "Kingsland Road Installation Troubleshooting", with photos, which suggests downtown Dalston is the place to go. So I went there yesterday too. And there it is, a proper fully-functioning Bus-Top, at the northbound stop for Dalston Junction on the Kingsland Road. Good choice, because five separate double decker routes (67, 76, 149, 242, 243) pass this way so the installation has every possibility of being well viewed. Too many pulled up on my fly-by visit, so I never got to sit overlooking the artwork proper. But I could read what the animated red writing said: "14 DAYS UNTIL WE LIVE". Which, according to these photos, is exactly what it said two weeks ago. Something's stalled there, I fear. So my hunch is that there are some teething problems across the entire project, both technically and online, and that a delayed Bus-Tops will launch spectacularly sometime later this week/month/year. Watch the skies.