Friday, 30 October 2015

Goodness Gracious Me! (episode 2 indeed)

And a Journey Planner as Well!
But first, bus timetables.
Govt. of India, Ministry of Transport took over the local bus services of Delhi in May 1948 in the name of Delhi Transport Service when they found that the services offered by Gawalior and Northern India Transport Company Ltd., the then licensee, were inadequate. A Delhi Road Transport Authority was constituted under the Road Transport Corporation Act, 1950. This Authority became undertaking of Municipal Corporation of Delhi by an Act of Parliament in April, 1958.

Looking at the operator's web site, you can see why there might be a demand for Google's downloadable app.
Even by fbb's modest standards it is not at all user friendly and in desperate need of a sort-out. This, for example, is part of the home page.

The file of timetables appears to be a huge collection of spreadsheets and that, as they say, is yer lot.

Another (privately run?) site purports to show maps but the one for fbb's "research" route is wholly out of date,
The 522 has been extended and merged with the 521.

But, the Google off-line app shows the full route; all stops are easily and quickly scrollable using the usual tweak of the finger. fbb thinks the correct technical term is "swipe".
The southern 522 terminus has not always been free of trouble.
An “accidental” fire gutted 17 air-conditioned low-floor buses of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) at one of its depots in South Delhi early on Thursday morning. The incident sent officials scurrying to salvage as many vehicles as they possibly could before fire tenders arrived. 

The Delhi Fire Services (DFS) said 10 tenders were despatched to the Ambedkar Terminal near Khanpur as soon as they received word about the incident around 3.20 a.m., a good 20 minutes after the said vehicles, which were supposedly queued up for refuelling, got engulfed by flames. The fire-fighting operation took nearly two hours.

The 522 service has recently been upgraded with real time information ...
... and offers bus lanes and "high quality" stops in busy locations. The route crosses the spectacular Rajpath (Road of Kings) with splendid views of the India Gate.
From here, the service continues North and East to terminate at at Inderpuri.
Buses run at seemingly illogical intervals; no sign of clock face departures here! From Inderpuri, for example buses leave at 1127, 1202, 1216, 1305, 1319, 1333, 1429, 1600 and so on; another good reason for Google's downloadable app. 
This button leads to a very fast and very simple journey planner. Without some "local knowledge" fbb cannot be sure how effective it is; but did come across a few problems; the biggest of which was persuading his confuser to accept the phone's screen shots. After the first few they started reading "no data in file" despite there being plenty of "data" on the phone. That problem resolved, fbb can look at a couple of potential errors in the JP.

Here is the result of a query from Cyber City (as per Wednesday's blog) to a generalised "New Delhi".
The obvious and easy route is via Rapid and Yellow metros. This is not the most direct but is compatible in time with most bus schedules, assuming the traffic does not impede progress. A rash assumption, fbb understands, in Delhi?

But, despite good frequencies, the metro option never appears again as you scroll to later times.

Then there is this screenshot for the same journey.
Here a bus (410CL) is not only out of order (7.23, 7.48, 7.23) but it shows a.m. not p.m. And prodding see details does, indeed, link to an a.m. trip. Perhaps an argument for changing to the 24 hour clock?

We must, however, remember that this is a "demo" version still under development, so there will be numerous wobblies to iron out.

Now consider this:-

There are about 900 bus services in the database plus the nine metro routes. This would equate easily to the bus and rail data for Greater London. Because the app is downloaded in full onto the users phone it is exceptionally fast and, of course, not dependent on getting a good phone signal.

Seems a jolly good idea.

What about it, Transport for Boris?

One final question. What about updates? It would appear that this experimental version does not receive updates on-line, but surely that will come. A link to google-mapified route diagrams would be easy and already fbb has received two "alerts". Readers may remember the recent earthquake.
fbb's phone pinged and delivered this; including a link to the news reports ...
... followed a few hours later by the "all clear".
Excellent use of technology!

For those who might wish to play, here is the link originally sent by No. 3 Son.

You have to download this onto your android (whatever that is) ...

... but don't ask fbb how to do it. Ask any 7 year old! fbb will enjoy the lollipop.
It is rumoured that Stagecoach are producing leaflets for their exclusive routes (as previously assumed). An anonymous message reads, "We're producing printed timetables for Sheffield buses. The majority of these are SBP branded. The deliveries are due Monday."
Ahem (nervous cough department), aren't the services changing on Sunday? So the Stagecoach stuff will be even later than First's. Perhaps we must congratulate First for attempting to tell their customers before the change?

And this from a Sheffield Resident yesterday.

This morning I managed to obtain 6 of the First leaflets - 3, 20, 56, 85, 95 and X5 - from the Customer Services desk at Sheffield Interchange. They were grudgingly given: "Do you really need all of them?". There was no sign of any of the "Partnership" leaflets. There was  nothing at all at Arundel Gate.

I will make another visit tomorrow, but words fail me. Didn't the Operators know the changes were coming?

Quotes from a recent "Partnership" meeting.
"Golly gosh chaps, we're changing some bus routes soon. Does anyone know when?" (Freddy Firstbus)
"What's more, does anyone know where these new routes go? (Sidney Stagecoach)
"Who cares? It's all on line!" (Linda Laptop)
 Next rail blog : Saturday 31st October 


  1. Sadly, the reluctance to give out leaflets from Sheffield Interchange is pretty normal. Arundel Gate is more helpful..............but they haven't got any leaflets.............

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  3. Sheffield Corporation used to issue free comprehensive timetable books that covered the entire network, although once when my Gran asked me to pick one up for her as well at Pond Street they wouldn't give me two. (I just went back later. . .)