Friday 2 November 2012

From Monk to Martyr

No 3 son lives at Watford (Herts) and occasionally works in central London. In this case his duties took him to the iconic Oxo Tower on the south bank of the Thames.
The building was originally constructed as a power station for the Post Office towards the end of the 19th century. It was subsequently acquired by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, manufacturers of Oxo beef stock cubes, for conversion into a cold store.

The building was largely rebuilt to an Art Deco design by company architect Albert Moore between 1928 and 1929. Liebig wanted to include a tower featuring illuminated signs advertising the name of their product. But the council refused permission so the tower was built with four sets of three vertically-aligned windows, each of which "coincidentally" happened to be in the shapes of a circle, a cross and a circle.

The building is now the inevitable block of flats with a posh-nosh restaurant on the top floor.
No 3 son needed to get from offices at Oxo to Hospital in St Albans for a chat with a podiatrist about his funny feet. fbb was, as usual, consulted for journey planning. So it was Thameslink from Blackfriars (that's the monk!) ...
... to the home of our first Christian Martyr ...
... City Station to be precise; whence bus S2 to the hospital.
All very straightforward. [Actually fbb boobed and advised the lad to walk to London Bridge, forgetting the new south bank entrance to Blackfriars. Yet another bad house point for the chubby one.] Thanks to the wonders of electronic mail, this "letter", with comments and illustrations added by fbb, duly arrived.

Dear fat bus bloke,

What about respect for your elders and betters?
Platform "D" furthest from camera.

Please find attached a photo of the insane timetable I was presented with at Stand D of St Albans City Train/Bus Station.
A computer generated list of all the buses that use Platform D; all mixed up and colour coded to be "helpful" to the customer! There were "maps" as well.
Anyways, the insane technicolor monstrosity is meant to be understandable by whom?, took me 2 minutes to understand it, probably not great for colour-blind people or people susceptible to epilepsy.

The traditional timetables are obviously easier to read and understand and so much clearer, I wasn't even sure the bus even left that stop anymore as it was so tiny to read and the stop flag didn't advertise which routes left from it. Some poor fella was totally bamboozled after I'd put my magnifying glass away and stopped dominating the "poster"
plenty of "helpful" notes to clarify journey opportunities.

Hertfordshire County Council, disguised as "Intalink", no longer produces timetable books, but, using your handy laptop with dongle and a printer in your satchel you can download the actual timetable. fbb prefers the colour version provided by Uno, the operator of the S2 to the hospital.
click on the image to enlarge

Other than maybe setting off from Blackfriars everything was optimal, £11 ish return on the train and £2.20 return for the bus at the other end; although the driver had to look up the concept of a return on his touch screen ticket printer.

On my return to London, I left Blackfriars Station via the new exit, something I would liken to the aesthetic qualities of a walk-in freezer, or recently hosed down morgue; very similar to that of the Overground station at Shoreditch High Street.

From inside Blackfriars looking out

Certainly the original Backfriars had some character but lacked an entrance on the south bank!
But thanks, No 3 son, for your input. Glad to see that you are following your old man's lead in recognising the limitations of the stuff that confuser programs spew out. GIGO indeed.

 Next Bus Blog : Saturday 3rd November 

1 comment:

  1. There are benefits to stop-specific timetables at the stops themselves (but I hasten to add they are of less value online if they are available INSTEAD of full timetables) but the format of such a stop-specific list depends on the location of the stop. If every bus route goes the same way (e.g. from an inner suburb towards the City Centre) it's better to group all the routes together but conversely if the stop is shortly before route bifurcation to a variety of destinations it's better to list each route separately. I was trying to make this argument when I worked for a local authority public transport section. It seems authorities choose one or the other. I would have thought that it is possible to use either - a system could be set up to allocate each stop as a 'group all services together' or a 'list each service separately' stop.

    Additionally the more complex a route (sub-bifurcations, circulars, truncation of some journeys etc.) the more complicated a stop-specific timetable becomes. Even in London the odd route has a couple of complications which become difficult to indicate. In these cases full timetables (and of course people who are taught to use them at school!) are better!