Saturday, 26 September 2015

Gleeful Giggles with Google

When Transport Defunct closed down, The Department for Messing Up Transport was anxious to point out that numerous third parties would be providing a replacement service at no cost to the tax payers of the UK. It is rumoured that the relatively useless Transport Defunct was costing us about £50 million a year.

So a worthwhile saving?

Apart from the lacklustre "national" version of Traveline, Google Maps Transit ...
... is one replacement service.

No 3 son is far from impressed. He sent fbb a series of screenshots from his mobile phone "App".

His journey started here, in Walthamstow, on St James Street. For the edification of our global readership, that's in London, England.
He wanted to get to Brighton.

Further up St James Street is a station which might be a good start. Surprisingly it is called St James Street Station. It's on the line to Chingford recently annexed by Boris the Blue and is now part of London's "Overground" network..
So No 3 asked his mobile phone what it recommended. Not St James Street Station as a starter ...
... but a bus to Blackhorse Road Station.

Being a fit and energetic go-getting young business executive, he decided to walk the three stops. Google told him that the 158 was ten minutes EARLY which is odd. The 158 runs every 10 minutes ...
... although Transport for London won't allow you to see a timetable.

The lad arrived at Blackhorse Road Station.
This imposing edifice has a dual identity.

It is a London Overground Station and a London Underground Station. London Overground is part of Transport for London (TfL) ...
... its lines coloured an attractive shade of orange. Which is why the station plan (from National Rail which runs the line for TfL) ...
... makes no mention at all of the Underground bit! But clever readers will know that the Underground bit of Blackhorse Road is on the Victoria line.
And by one of those naming co-incidences for which London is justly famous, the Victoria Line runs to London Victoria. And, sim-sala-bim, London Victoria is the station No 3 son wants for his train to Brighton.

But Giggle Google Transit thinks otherwise.
 Take the Victoria Line, but not to Victoria, that would be silly.
No 3 son is advised to abandon the Underground at Green Park, one stop short of common sense ...
... and catch a No 38 bus (running 2 minutes early!).
Only then was he allowed to catch his train to Brighton.
A later attempt at using the "national" Traveline ...
... seems reasonable at first; but produces nonsense.
For the record, Snaresbrook is 3.2 miles from where No 3 son was beginning his trek into the heart of transport darkness.
fbb has no idea what "St James Street (Transport for London)" means. You have to ask for St James Street Station and then you get something sensible.
Which is, effectively, what happened on the ground.

That leaves the burning question. How can Giggle Transit get it so wrong? Do the gnomes at Giggle HQ have any idea what drivel they are outputting? Presumably not.

fbb's advice. Use any journey planner with polite suspicion; it will probably be wrong. Unless, of course, you know what the answer should be before you switch the confuser on.
That's the way to do it!

Oh, yes; one final thing. This is Belgrave House ...
... within which are the three floors of the quirky London offices of Google.
And where, pray, is Belgrave House?
Just across the road from London Victoria station.

Giggle, giggle, Google, giggle!

 Next blog (as yet unwritten) : Sunday 27th September 


  1. Not quite sure about the " Transport for London won't allow you to see a timetable" - I agree that its website won't give you the complete timetable in one go, but it will give you the complete list of daily departures from each stop, and the journey times.

    As an aside, I do wish operators (bus and train) would give us complete timetables as well as "journey planners" which ask us to type in a time and only give the next departure. Some (rail) companies - e.g. Arriva Wales - make it much easier to find these on their websites than others.

  2. Not quite right, Andrew. TfL gives "typical" or "average" journey times which can be up to 70% underestimated at peak times. USELESS!!!