Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Worries Whilst Waiting at Watford [6]


Our IT people have just upgraded their Omnitimes software and added the Omnistop module ...
... which will be ideal for places where more than one route serves a stand or stop. That means that all departures, irrespective of destination can be grouped together in one multicoloured display. It will look tidy, take up less space at the stop and be easy to update using a few key presses. Our publicity officers have expressed the view that such a display is not customer-friendly. But, according to a survey done in 1934 in Central London, 93.6% of passengers don't want to know when their bus comes. They are happy to wait as "there's another one behind." But we are paying lip service to our commitment to the public.
As long as they don't want a train, of course. Anyway, it is all on line.

This change will be widely publicised (at busy stops only) with an easy to read poster.
Note the helpful use of colour on this sample. The 601, 602, 603 (withdrawn) and 621 (withdrawn) are all blue. The 300 and 301 are both, erm, blue. The 304 is also blue; and to help with spotting the right service, the 52 is coloured blue. The 330 is red.

A practical example of this carefully designed system is shown for stand 1 at the Junction bus station.
Grouping departures together makes very good sense if the routes are going to the same place. Having a "summary" for common sections of route can be useful as well, provided that the different extremities are also listed on separate panels. A closer look reveals, yet again, a lack of forethought in colouring.
8, 10, 320, 321, 324 all apppear to be the same mid blue with the 622 noticeably darker. Only our old friend the confusing W30 warrants a clearly separate colour. It is true that ALL these buses go to Watford Centre, a good 5 minutes walk away but thereafter this is how they run:-

 8  Northwood (i.e. Southbound)

 10  Holywell (local)

 320  Rickmansworth (i.e. Westbound)

 321  Watford High Street ONLY

 324  Maple Cross (i.e Westbound)

 352  Watford Clarendon Road ONLY 

 622   Watford Clarendon Road ONLY  

 W30  Business Parks (local)

High Street is the centre of the pulsating retail community that is Watford ...
... whereas Clarendon Road is on the fringes of the centre ...
... and the "wrong" side of the ludicrously busy inner ring road which is, in effect, a huge roundabout with the town centre marooned in the middle.
Abandon hope all ye who try to cross over there!

There is an argument in favour of showing 320 and 324 in one list as they both run direct to Rickmansworth. But the rest are very different creatures indeed and need separate panels if the bus-riding public is to be helped (!)

And we haven't even begun to tackle the horrors of the plethora of notes. In the hour between 0745 and 0845, there are roughly two dozen journeys shown of which 16 have some sort of corrective note.

But there are no timetables.

And please, Herts transport gurus, don't tell fbb that there is no room on the stands for such detail. There is oodles and oodles of room to put up a nice big frame with timetables in, accompanied by a summary of all departures to the town centre.

C is for Confidence

fbb is often called upon to advise friends on optimal journeys by public transport. What such folk lack is confidence and access to a live, authoritative source of advice; which is why, riskily, they come to the chubby one. A computer only provides the information chosen by its programers and, in this case, the technical wizards are WRONG. They are supplying information in a form which does NOT give confidence to an occasional user. What fbb would really, really love to do is to take the Intalink people to somewhere "foreign"; Rotherham? ...
... Truro Station ...
... deliver them blindfold to an unstaffed but busy bus stop and see how they cope. How confident would they be?

 Next bus blog : Thursday 13th November 

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