Monday, 20 June 2011

Connections Reflections

You Cannot Be Serious!
Well, Wimbledon starts today ...
There are TWO Appledores in Devon.  One is on the North Devon Coast and looks like this:-
The other is on the A38 in Mid Devon and, generally looks like this:-
There are a few cottages dotted around and once there was The Lamb Inn, an historic roadhouse which admirably served the needs of saddle weary travellers who trotted purposefully along the road to Exeter.  The road became the A38 and the (former) Lamb Inn now looks like this:-
Now, in the unlikely event that fbb's BMW had broken down here, he might wish to catch a bus into Exeter. He might have no choice but to pull his (t)rusty Blackberry out of his pocket and insult consult Traveline. Here is offer number one for a journey after 0700 ...
Hey ho! Walk for 18 minutes to Ayshford and catch the 1C to Exeter. Not much fun? Offer number two ...
Leave 4 minutes later, walk 18 minutes to Ayshford, catch a number 92 to Willand, whence change onto the same service 1C to Exeter, a typically dafter dollop of dubiousness from Traveline south west. There's even a little map to help you ...
... the green line shows the lovely walk along the busy trunk A38, with no footpath and howling juggernauts throwing you into the hedge as they thunder past. Jolly fun!
Actually the map is a nonsense because it appears to show that the bus from Ayshford (red line) goes back to the non-existent Lamb Inn, turns round and travels through Ayshford again. It doesn't. And the Lamb Inn is in the wrong place; that's not where it isn't (?).

What Traveline does not know, but fbb does, is that there is a THROUGH BUS from Appledore to Exeter. And there's more!  There are FIVE though buses Monday thru' Saturday from Appledore to Exeter and FOUR on Sundays. 

Here's the first of the day, about right for fbb's theoretical journey:-
0726 from Applefore, no changes and arriving in Exeter a mere 56 minutes later.  How can this be?  How can the tasty traveline technology miss this journey.  fbb will reveal the ridiculous reason. Above the above thick black line is a journey by First's service 92 from Taunton to Cullompton, of course via Appledore. Below the line is a summary of times for First's service 192 from Cullompton to Exeter.  And note "V".

"Guaranteed Connections at Cullompton with service 192 to Exeter; passengers may remain on the bus and through fares are available."

Connections, Cobblers!  It's a through service; it has been for years and, doubtless, will remain so while ever it makes pots of money for nice Mr Fearnley. But, Traveline thinks it is two distinct and separate services with different route numbers. And a 2 minute contrived Collumpton onnection is perceived as too "tight" to be reliable, so it is ignored.

Bus managers might offer several plausible "excuses" for this nonsense:
EEC driver's hours regulations,
Electronic tachograph usage regulations,
Route too long for drivers to remember the way,
Drivers' underpants (potential chafing) union agreement.
Of course, another explanation might be that the 92 is Somerset data and the 192 is Devon data; and it wouldn't do at all for the two counties to talk to one another, would it?

But, whatever the reason, EITHER, any law which allows a company to avoid its provisions by such a nonsense is an ass. OR, any law which prevents a company from running a long-established through service, without telling schoolboy-standard lies, is equally an ass.

Furthermore, IF Traveline data inputters were people who knew what a bus is, and where it goes, and why; then they would make sure it was shown as a through service, wouldn't they?  If fbb can work it out from his comfy armchair, trained Traveline technocrats ought to be able to cope.

And here's one that is explained properly, but still unnecessarily, from Wilts and Dorset:-

fbb has just finished reading the East Devon Sunmmer timetable; it's a good edition, plenty of plot movement but lacking in rounded characterisation. It reveals the stunning nonsense that the prestigious "CoastlinX53" is now advertised a FIVE separate sections with "guaranteed connections".
Even the buses tell lies; an X53 from Exeter now shows "Seaton with connection for Poole" on its destination display. See previous blog "Good Value by Bus" for comment on this route, (read again); Hyper-, Mega-, Astounding stupidity. At least, in this case, the journey planner has been told the truth. 

But imagine the effect of the printed version, or the bus itself, on a potential long-distance passenger; tight connections (zero minutes at Wool)? No fear, far too risky. Get the car out!

Very silly all round!

Next blog : due Tuesday June 21st  


  1. You'll be pleased to hear that traveline Scotland now has software which recognises sub-5 minute connections e.g

    Leave11:01 Inverness Rail Station

    Arrive12:43 Strathcarron Rail Station

    Leave12:43 Strathcarron Rail Station
    View on map

    Arrive12:43 Strathcarron, Railway Station, at
    View on map

    Leave12:45 Strathcarron, Railway Station, at
    View on map
    Service Number702ProviderDMK MotorsRouteStrathcarron - Torridon
    Arrive12:55 Lochcarron, Post Office, o/s

  2. Sound OK - BUT does Traveline make it clear how reliable this connection is. How long, for example, will the bus wait for a late running train (not unknown on Scotland's single track lines!)?
    It is a real problem but needs quantifying if the journey is to be considered by an "outsider".

  3. And there lies the crux of the connections problem. Reassurance to a potential passenger. A 'guaranteed' connection is what is really needed; this would mean that noone is stranded, whatever happens. As you have pointed out, the new 'Guaranteed' connections due to routes having been split ... the X53 5-parter is ludicrous ... are farcical. Keep up the entertaining and informative work fbb!