Thursday, 22 January 2015

Daring Doings in Doncaster's Dunscroft [3]

Talking of Printing Your Own
Printing your own timetables is nowhere near as easy as collecting a set of leaflets; or, even better, collecting a timetable booklet; or, best of all for "locals", having one drop through your letter box. First bus devotes a whole section to a "How To ..." guide:-

A guide to viewing and printing timetables

1. Click on the 'timetables' link to the left on this page. All of the timetables for your area will be displayed.

2. To find the timetable you are looking for, enter the places you are travelling from and to in the box. Or, if you know it enter the route number.

3. Once you have found the route number, choose when you want to travel, either Monday to Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

4. The timetable will now be displayed on screen. You can now view your timetable as it is or choose PDF or Large print PDF.

5. To just get the times for when you want to travel click the 'personalise' symbol, this will ask you whether your journey is one-way or return, for your start and end points and your preferred departure times. The times of the services around the times you entered will be provided.

6. To print a timetable either click the 'PDF' or 'Large print PDF' symbol. This will open as a new page for you to print.

The whole set from First consists of 29 A4 pages with no clutter, title pages or guff about how good everything is - when it isn't. But getting there is hard and dispiriting work. The average intending passenger would not bother with First's over complicated facility; even assuming they could find the timetable anyway. But at least First does try to explain what has happened ...

... but it is still not clear enough and fbb will quote from these more helpful pieces of text later in this series.

So, back to Travel South Yorkshire.
There is a huge header banner on the web site's home page. If you are confuser savvy enough to click on it, it will take you to the standard list of new leaflets.

On the way, it is best to avoid the "New Services" page. It is useless because it ignores routes where the service retains its existing number. It doesn't matter, for example, if Thorne Road route 87 has changed dramatically in frequency and been extended from Thorne to Goole, TSY does not think it is a "NEW" service.

New services
Travel South Yorkshire are pleased to introduce new public transport services. The services listed below are either new, renumbered or operated by a new operator. Please see individual comments with each service. The timetable leaflets for all services listed below are already available, or will be very soon.

To find out what your timetable changes might be, it is best to know my some mystic mind-meld system what your timetable changes are. Unless you know in advance (how?) you have to plough through the list of about 80 new leaflets until you find the ones you want. Surely, where a network is changed, the relevant tables should also be accessible together in one "Thorne Road" block?
Again, note that services which have changed significantly (76 and 87) but retained the same number have no explanatory note. Equally frustrating is the lack of cross referencing from totally new services (89 and X8) back to what they have changed FROM.

Next: what do you get for your downloading efforts? You get a PDF file version of the TSY printed leaflet. Whether this approach will change once printed material is banned, is as yet unclear. There seems little point in reproducing all the extras used to fill up a printed leaflet. But, for the time being, here goes.

We are conceptually downloading the new X8. We get a standard header page ...
... which doesn't list Hatfield although the X8 is now the main route serving the "traditional" community.

This is followed by a "What's changed" note ...
... which, surprise surprise, is incorrect!

We get the usual denial of responsibility plus the inevitable "24 hour clock" panel.
In parts of South Yorkshire bus timetables have been using the 24 hour clock for nearly 50 years and even in the backwaters of Stainforth and Barnby Dun at least 40. Although some of fbb's more elderly chums still struggle with such novelties (we miss the groat and the florin), surely the graphic is no longer necessary?

Then comes the map!
fbb is really sorry for the occasional passenger seeking to board or alight at Tudworth Hall Farm ...
... and trying to guess which journeys will miss the stop out completely ...
... and take a little excursion down the M180 to the M18 and back again! TSY leaflet maps are laughably useless, as well as often being just plain wrong.

And finally; we get to the timetable itself, probably the only information we are seeking.
Note, in passing, that only two journeys serve Wembley Road/Marsh Road. WRONG! They all do. Another typical TSY piece of misdirection.


Perhaps it is no bad thing of TSY give up producing printed timetables. Hopefully, operators like First and Stagecoach will take the hint and produce their own, correct, top quality material?

There they go again!
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Strumble Postscript
See "Janet" (read again)
A blog reader and correspondent "Bob" had excavated a photo of the Strunble Shuttle in its Summer form dated 2007.
The lighthouse is visible through the bus windows.
Bob says "Great journey!"
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 Next bus blog : Friday 23rd January 


  1. FBB, the instructions from First for viewing and printing their timetables do not seem particularly complicated. I haven’t tested the procedure, but that’s not really the point. Since there seem to be several options - specific routes or times, large print or small - the instructions need to cover those points, in sufficient detail so that somebody seeing them for the first time can successfully obtain the information they require, in their preferred format. I suspect that you are confusing brevity with simplicity - unfortunately, too much brevity can cause serious complications and frustration.

    As an aside, many paper timetables from the 1970s had almost a page of instructions on ‘How to use this timetable’ - somewhat more complex than the First instructions that you quote! Simplicity is a virtue - over simplicity is most definitely not.

    Your complaint about the diagram for the explanation of the 24 hour clock also seems rather odd - even if most people do understand the 24 hour system, I am sure there are some who don’t or who would benefit from such a description.

    On the other hand, you frequently tell us that the timetable displays at bus stops should include full timetables, and not just lists of departures. Yet at the bus stop, nobody is interested in where the bus has been before it gets to the stop - that’s irrelevant information, and at that point, and providing more information than the user needs is confusing, and wastes their time while they sift the information to determine that which they actually need.

    I can only conclude that you are thinking as a timetable planner, and not an average passenger, whose needs and interests are different. But if you are writing instructions, you always need to cover the needs of the users first - and the same applies to the provision of information.

  2. What I would expect to help the passenger is a button which will print out the whole timetable. (Even TSY gives me that!) Why must I specify days of operation? On some sites I can't get a timetable without specifying journey time - only then do I get a PDF option (Stagecoach?). I have never advocated unnecessary information at stops, but a timetable of the full journey FROM THAT STOP is essential. I have never been a timetable planner but I am an average passenger but with (possibly?) above average knowledge of what should be explained. Passengers are poorly served by departure lists and over complicated web sites which today are the norm.
    I have never planned a bus timetable!

  3. What constitutes the "whole timetable"? The whole route, the whole week, the whole network?

  4. I do hate having to print out separate timebles for Monday to friday and Saturday when both often only occupy half a page.

  5. Who invented the skip?