Friday, 22 October 2010

Journey Planners : Jolly Pathetic

Or: it's not just Sheffield that gets it wrong!

Consider a simple journey from Ryde (Isle of Wight) to Havenstreet, the HQ of the Island's steam railway.   When is the last bus of the day?   The timetable says 1755 with the arrival time ominously in red.   This means the journey goes beyond Haylands on request.  

What does traveline's website say?  NO SUCH JOURNEY!

What does traveline's call centre say?  Fbb tried it (at vast expense) whilst typing this blog.  The answer, "1640 from Ryde; there's nothing after that."

xephos (www.internet.xephos.com) gets it right by actually telling me that the 1755 departure is by request to Havenstreet.

Mayhap you wish to go from Shanklin to Alverstone, a pretty little village ideally suited for walks on the Island's downs.    The outward timetable is disappointing with two morning journeys only going to Newchurch.

But if you are wise to the ways of bus operators and their timetable mysteries, you might look at buses in the opposite direction; and you would see....

...that these buses come back to Shanklin via Alverstone, so those elusive morning journeys are perfectly possible.

How does Traveline's website deal with this comprehension conundrum.

Firstly it tells me that the bus (e.g. the 1100 from Shanklin) is going to Langbridge Langbridge!  26 years of Island life reveals no such place.  It is, in fact, Langbridge Farm situated about 400m beyond Newchurch church; the first safe place for the bus to turn.   The bus shows "Newchurch" on its blind, not "Langbridge Langbridge"!

Then it tells me to get off at Winford, cross the road and wait for the next bus going back to Shanklin; which is, of course, the bus I have just alighted from!   Helpfully I am told that the stop is called Forest Road East, and that it is situated on, guess where, Forest Road!  That interchange would be really jolly if it was pouring with rain - and huge fun when, dripping from the deluge, you realised that you could have stayed in the comparative warmth and comfort of a Wightbus!

Needless to say, xephos gets it right!

A piccy of Newchurch, showing distinctive weatherboarded church and popular Pointer Inn. [Useless Fact No 1037 : The Pointer Inn was Jimmy Tarbuck's favourite Island pub!].   Langbridge Langbridge is off to the left at the bottom of the hill by the church.

You and I spend something like £75 million in a year in taxes and hidden bus company costs to pay for Traveline and Transport Defunct journey planners; plus significant sums if we ring the call centre. For that heap of our cash, shouldn't the system tell us what we want to know?

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