Monday, 27 July 2015

Exciting (?) News from Stagecoach [1]

 due to the exigences of the situation, 
  this blog was originally planned for  
             last Wednesday             

Groan - It's Only a New Web Site.
The Stagecoach South West staff newsletter reveals yet another piece of "exciting" web site news. Sadly, fbb finds he cannot raise even a smidgen of enthusiasm, let alone excitement, for more complex technology which buries timetable information under a load of promotional twiddles. But that personal pet-hate needs to be tempered a little until the excitement explodes over the unsuspecting ether-waves of the information super highway.

Here's the gist of the announcement to staff.

We're pleased to confirm that
Stagecoach's new website will be
launching on Monday 27th July.

 UPDATED  Only it isn't. A subsequent staff newsletter, published last Friday, was a bit coy about "Launch Date". It announced a "delay until early August".

As you can imagine, creating a new site from scratch to cover all 18 of our operating companies has been mammoth task that has involved a dedicated Stagecoach team, a number of external agencies and input from all of the operating companies.

The new site will have feeds from AVL, ERG, our Timetable Information System (TIS) and a brand new Admin Management System (AMS) which manages all of our ticketing products. All of this will then be pulled together by a central Content Management System (CMS), the 'engine' of the site, that will then publish everything on-line.

[The above paragraph has been approved by the TLA Board**.]

The site has also been designed from a 'mobile first' perspective so our customers can view the site easily whether they're looking at it from a desktop, tablet or mobile phone.

They will also be able to plan their journeys in a lot more detail and get information on routes, tickets and even where their nearest bus stop is!

[Hope it's better than the existing "journey can't-planner" - see below.]

All of our existing Smartcard customers will be notified of the new site in advance of the launch and we'll also be sharing more detailed information with you as the launch date gets closer.

A reminder of what is there currently may prepare us for the change.

To find his local timetables fbb has a front page route, clearly labelled.
But to find anything you do need to start with a place on the list; you need to know where the buses terminate before you can find out where the buses terminate and even when. Exmouth, Seaton and Sidmouth are there but Colyford, Sidford and Newton Poppleford are not.

Confirming "Seaton" (because fbb lives there and already knows), the three Stagecoach routes are listed ...
... and clicking on 20, for example, ought to reveal the timetable. Only it doesn't.  We are offered TWO service 20s, one for Seaton to Honiton  ... 
... and one for Honiton to Taunton.
Now fbb knows that it is all one route, but will a perplexed pensioner, poorly prepared for the principles of public transport, be so aware? The timetables so revealed are also in two bits and huge; showing every stop.
But, fortunately, we do have a "click" for a PDF timetable (whatever that might be?). Surely something like "view or print the timetable leaflet here" might be better. Then we have the full time-point timetable ...
... complete with DaFT inspired "connection" blatant lie.

Service 52A has similar "facilities" but here the "main" timetable is so huge as to be near unusable and the PDF, as a leaflet-based extract, contains everything that runs under the 52 banner.
In an ideal world where web designers were bus users, we would have the Seaton-exclusive timetable that is posted at fbb's local stops. It cuts out the clutter and shows a simple Seaton to Exeter page.
But such a web page would be helpful and we wouldn't want that, would we?

Then there is the 53.
The residents of Colyton will be thrilled beyond measure to use their exciting ans convenient service to Exeter.

But there are  few minor problems here, however.

 1  It doesn't run to Colyton

 2  It is a service to Seaton

 3  It is one peak tendered journey which is/was part of F*rst B*s service X53

 4  But we wouldn't DREAM of telling you that! 

 5  And it is due to be withdrawn under Devon's cut-backs
 6  But we wouldn't DREAM of telling you that! 
 7  Can you get on in Colyford at 1856 and travel to Exeter? If you can, we wouldn't dream of telling you that either. The last X53 to Exeter is at 1711.

When it was first tendered this trip was designed to fill a gap in X53 timings from and to Exeter connecting with an X53 at Seaton. The connecting journey has long since gone and the 53 should have gone with it. Nevertheless, showing it without some explanation is unhelpful in the extreme. When it did serve a "useful purpose" it was always included in First's leaflets.

Because Seaton is at the edge of Stagecoach's Devon network, we only get a rudimentary map ...
... sensibly without the 53. But one question for the cartographers. Where is Seaton's "Sea Discovery Centre"? 

And another, general, question. Will we see improvements from Monday next early August? Late August?

fbb can't wait.

But, tomorrow, we take a gander at the current Stagecoach journey planner.
** The TLA Board (TTB) is a secretive yet powerful government organisation (PGO) that ensures that the public is utterly bewildered by systems and organisations. By giving every one a TLA (Three Letter Acronym) full perplexment is universally guaranteed. The DGM of TTB states, "Getting five TLAs in one sentence (AVL, ERG,  TIS, AMS and CMS) is a magnificent achievement slightly spoiled by the totally unnecessary explanation (TUE) of three of them. Nevertheless a wonderful acronym exemplar (WAE) from Stagecoach."
South Downs : The Truth Revealed
Thanks to last Tuesday's comment writers (read again); who revealed that the half-cab double decker ostensibly plying the byways of the South Downs is modelled on an Ipswich Corporation Regent III.
Bus 63 (illustrated right) is Massey bodied and (according to the interwebnet) survived in service until 1985. Its chum, 64, lasted until 1986. 63 is alive and well at the Ipswich Transport Museum.

Ipswich Buses' present livery is so "outré" that fbb had forgotten that the town's buses were once quite "distinguished".
 Next delayed bus blog : Tuesday 28th July 

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