Friday, 16 September 2011

Blupdates Issue 6

A Potpourri of Petty but Pertinent Points

"Web Sites, Used or Confused [4]" (read again)

After nearly two weeks, the Southern Vectis web site is still NOT showing service 36, NOT even a mention. But the timetables DO include the new 35 which doesn't admit to serving Gatcombe, although it does. Or so we are told. As for service 6, the site shows FIVE journeys in one place ...
... and TEN journeys in another.
It must take real skill to make such a mess.

Dear Mr Morgan-Huws,
fbb will build you a lovely, simple web site AND keep it up-to-date for much less that you are paying Best Impressions to do neither. Of course, it won't have lots of twiddly bits and slow-to-render graphical stuff. BUT it will tell the public what they need to know and it will ALWAYS BE RIGHT.

fbb won't, as they say, hold his breath!

"Can You do Any Better" (read  again)

Someone, possibly a relative of David Brown Director General, Sir, e-mailed in a "gurt paddy" to ask what was wrong with this bit of a recent Sheffield timetable. He said, "It looks perfectly clear to me."  So it does, fine friend, unless you happen to know where the buses run.
The key line is "Leopold Street" used by only three evening buses run by T M Travel, apparently. Oh, yes they do! But so do all the other buses in this direction. EVERY service 123 bus calls at Leopold Street. As is all too common in confuser driven data, this line has been included because it's what T M Travel say they do; but without a thought for what happens during the rest of the day.

And Traveline thinks the 123 service still terminates at Endcliffe Student Village, ignoring the recent extension in its index of services. This sort of thing, countermanding the actual timetable which is "correct" by South Yorkshire's very low standards, is typical of thoughtless technology.
It does this because of appallingly bad data management by people who seem to have removed their brain and substituted a cabbage.

"Worst Bus Station" (read again

On 27th March 2010 in his 7th blog, ever, fbb highlighted the poor bus station facilities at Winchester, which they still are. But he can now go one better.
This magnificent pile of tat, boarded up and bereft of any facilities (well, bereft of anything at all) is the main building, no - the ONLY building, that graces the untold luxury of Ilfracombe bus station. First buses have bays to the right; no shelter, mostly no timetables.

Is THIS the most utterly depressing bus station ever? For accommodation expenses and a few pots of paint, fbb will happily emigrate to Devon, even out of season, and brighten things up a bit. The picture above, however, is well out of date. So maybe in the interim a bright and commodious new state-of-the-art facility has been built, perhaps as good a Slough (?).  Hmmmm?

"Sheffield Subsistology" (read again)

Semitic Subsistology Standards?  Subsistology (an fbb-coined word for the study of bus stops) often reveals poor standards in GB. But this internet based picture of a stop in Jerusalem beats anything fbb has ever seen in GB. Unless someone know differently?
This dinosaur of the bus stop (below) was still in place recently at a near-lethal junction in Sidford, Devon. Alas, according to local Sidfordian gossip, it is now no longer in use. Shame!
A poor low-resolution extract from Google Street View, but you get the idea. Here it is almost attached to the wall of the Rising Sun to the right of the garage doors.
But, is fbb (and local gossip) wrong? Mayhap the oldest bus stop in Devon IS still in use; this from Transport Defunct:-
Perhaps a blog reader will tell all our slaveringly excited readers the truth. Stop or non-stop?

It is appropriate here to include a photo of No 1 son, who is something terribly important at Oxford University, and off to vital and ground-breaking meetings with Uncle Sam across the pond, in a suicidal state trying to plan his journey to the airport by public transport.
Herewith a visual aid from one of No. 1 son's lectures ...
... impressive, eh? The best bit, of course, is the distintively delectable steak and kidney pie; essential, of course, for "resident, individual, visitor and evented" activity; which must at all times be "visible, social and lurking yet private". Sounds a bit like a description of the modern bus industry. Or would "mixed up" summarise it? [the bus industry, not the lad's lecture which will, as ever, be excellent; if you can understand it; if not, enjoy the pie]

"Euston We Have a Problem [5]" (read again)

No 3 son sends photos of recent developments, notably lifts and new access between the main councourse,
the Underground ticket hall and taxi rank area, seen from the escalators down from the concourse.
Plus a new Sainsburys ...
... where he can buy yummy stuff before catching his train back to Watford. There are also rather menacing red monsters from an episode of Doctor Who waiting to devour unsuspecting potential ticket purchasers.

Well, it's one way of reducing overcrowding. 

Next blog : Saturday September 17th  


  1. Mr White
    I remember your website well, so no thanks. How perfect you are - do you remember you published a timetable booklet with a blurred picture on the front cover, or the one where instead of the photo of the Chairman of the Council's Transport Committee, there was a square with the word 'picture of Paul Fuller' in it. Bless!
    Mr Morgan Huws

  2. I think you've got me mixed up with somebody else. But I would love to publish the items you refer to. They would make a good blog. I am sure you can get them to me via email. I will enjoy publishing them. Thanks, they sound great. I certainly have no recollection of publishing ANY timetables - perhaps it was a dream! (Mine or Yours). Who is this Mr White you are trying to contact?

  3. One thing I have learned during the last 20 years working in IT is that extreme care needs to be exercised in the use of consultants. The owners and managers of a business know (or should know) it better than anybody else, so that any consultant called in to advise on, or carry out, a particular task will inevitably need to spend some time learning about the relevant aspects of the business. In other words, they will have to be paid while they assimilate information that the business already has 'in house'.

    The alternative approach is for the business itself to acquire the relevant knowledge - for example, by sending employees on training courses, or even extended forms of study.

    Therefore the tasks for which consultants are employed should only be those where it is not cost effective for the business to acquire the necessary knowledge for itself. Inevitably these will be non-core activities. For example, a bus operator may need to have a new garage designed and built, but once it it has been completed, they probably won't need another for ten or twenty years, or more. (This obviously depends on the size and area of the operations). In that case, a bus operator is not an architectural business, nor is it in the building trade - therefore it makes sense to employ third parties, or consultants by any other name.

    However, the timetables of the buses that a bus operator runs, and the publicity of those timetables, is most definitely a core activity for the business. It is a central part of their business, and there is an ongoing requirement for the appropriate knowledge within the business to produce and distribute that information. Therefore, I would suggest that it is not appropriate for a bus operator to 'outsource' the production of its timetable information, and the website, as one of the public 'faces' of the business, should also be maintained in-house.

    I'm not sure if Southern Vectis maintain their own website - there is no sign of any reference to the involvement of any third party on the site itself. Maybe Best Impressions designed the site, which is perhaps reasonable, as the actual setup is a task that may not be repeated for a few years - but the maintenance of the site needs to be in the hands of people with close working knowledge of the business. The inconsistencies with the timetable information on the site suggest that this is not the case, and that, perhaps, too much has been 'outsourced' to remote consultants who lack the necessary knowledge about the workings of the business.

  4. The route 6 timetables might finally be correct, but the route 6 page ( ) still says it's only every 2-3 hours...!

    I also note that many of the routes taken over don't have their own web page (like all the other services do), instead the link from the list of bus routes just goes directly to a pdf of the timetable. Alongside the fact that none of the new routes have been added to the route maps, it doesn't exactly fill you with confidence about SV's support of the routes they've taken on.

    Is that comment from "Mr Morgan Huws" actually from Marc do you think, or just an imposter?

  5. Oh, and also, while Ilfracombe might win in terms of total lack of facilities and information (and yes I've been there), I still believe that Chatham Pentagon bus station is the worst. It might have facilities, and some people claim it's not that bad because it's undercover, but: The dinginess, complete lack of natural light around the back, fumes unable to escape, buses unable to pass, difficulty in seeing bus destination displays, difficulty of leaving if you don't want the shopping centre, and general nasty feel with the concrete, is horrendous. Would put a very bad impression on a new bus passenger!