Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Not Very 'Appy At All! [Part 1]

Another Road Test?
But first; a First mystery
Readers may remember a bit of a kerfuffle in Sheffield as a result of November changes. One problem was lack of capacity on some services where single decks had replaced double but with a reduced frequency. Yes it was daft but ...

We're sorry for any inconvenience caused and would like to reassure you that we're working hard to improve your service. We'd like to thank you for bearing with us during the bus network changes. We'll continue to monitor your feedback, service punctuality and reliability to improve your public transport experience.

Now there's a good name for a blog!

Following comments about the 75/76 being overcrowded and late, the Bus Partnership will be introducing several additional double deck buses to the route.

Which makes you wonder why these vehicles have just been transferred from Sheffield to First in Cornwall and are currently operating with Buses of Somerset in Taunton.

33079 LN51GNK
33082 LN51GNV
33083 LN51GNX
33084 LN51GME
33099 LN51GLX 
Thanks to Graham at the Plymothian Transit blog for pointing this out. Of course, everything has improved in Sheffield as illustrated by this twit from about 0900 on Monday last. (!)

Give One Clap for the First Bus App
But hardly a whole round of applause. fbb has been shot down in flames on numerous occasions because of his "polite suspicion" (polite?) of modern technology versus, for example, a timetable book. First's offering here, once again, supports his unease.

We need, as ever, to choose our company area; which is fair enough. fbb dives immediately into his two "local" areas. Try "Cornwall" and tap "Timetables":-
Immediately something look odd..
Penzance to Lands End is very Cornwall; but Parade to Wellsprings? Penlea? Sydenham? And the list continues ...
... revealing some very disconnected Cornwall locations. Yes, you, too, have worked it out. Cornwall has annexed Somerset. So try relocating yourself to "Somerset" ...
... and you might expect to get Cornwall as well, the companies being under the same management. But, even dafter, the routes listed under Somerset would appear to be in ...
... Essex.

As well as being a sad comment on those who populate the database for this App, you do wonder how many people use it in Cornwall and Somerset. Surely somebody should have told First about their incompetence?

There is another problem here. Listing a service as ...
... is fine for those who already know what they want; but not at all helpful for an inexperienced user searching for buses in and from Taunton. A heading "Taunton town service" is necessary.

Thankfully all the other areas do seem to list timetables that actually belong. But a similar taxonomy problem occurs in fbb's former home area.
Because a sensible South-Yorkshire-wide numbering scheme has long been abandoned, we have a multiplicity of services with the same tag. Rotherham and Doncaster routes all contain the town name, whereas Sheffield is just called "City". Consistency would be helpful.

As an aside, please note that First has no truck with all this Sheffield Bus Partnership nonsense. The "joint" service between Sheffield (aka City) and High Green ignores completely the Stagecoach journeys (Service 1) which, effectively, double the frequency.

Partnership, what partnership?

Although it doesn't tell you, there is a vertical caret before the word "Service" at the top. You can search for our route number rather than swiping/scrolling through the whole list.
Good, up to a point. Apart from the minor detail that service 95 is not (and never has been) a "circular".

Searching for a "Destination" is useless. So ...
... the ten minute frequency to Nether Green cannot be found. The terminus of 98 is also an impossibility.
Off to Cornwall where the App can find "Lands" ...
... but fails with it's "End"!
Aha! fbb has cracked it - yet again.

It can find just one word of any "destination", the latter being defined as an often arbitrary terminal point as created by First's timetable compliers. But don't you dare type in more than one word of a two word locality; because we won't let you find it.

But there is more to explore in this "state of the art" App. We shall do so tomorrow.
Maybe it will get better?

By way of a PS, Stagecoach (the other major "partner" in the Sheffield not-very-partnership) includes all the service for the "joint" routes, although it only does so by dint of linking to he Travel South Yorkshire timetable pages. Thus an App-less Stagecoach is more helpful than a hapless First! (Groan)

 Next App blog : Thursday 22nd January 


  1. Tried the new Stagecoach live departures bit of their site for their service B in Exeter and it gave me live departures from Honiton Road Park and Ride despite the timetable having been changed months ago to not serve there! How can uou show live depatures using the wrong route and wrong timetable!

  2. Another FBB First focused outrage!!

    The issue with Somerset timetables on the Kernow web pages is not exactly news. Granted, it is something that should've been sorted in the last two years but not an issue for the app.

    As for Sheffield deckers heading south... A) does that automatically preclude other deckers being moved around Yorkshire? B) First may have been able to delay that move if warranted - however late delivery of Stagecoach vehicles into Plymouth means that the First vehicles on loan there still haven't been released

    1. The new Stagecoach buses are barely late and it is interesting that after years of claiming Plymouth was not worthy of new buses by First, Stagecoach are giving it a massive overhaul with many new buses and Falcon launching 14 Feb. They obviously believe there's money to be made.

  3. Anonymous misses the point, mayhap. An App needs to instill confidence into its users (if any!). If the data is obviously wrong, then it is natural to be wary of all of the system. (See top comment re Stagecoach). However technologically competent (or otherwise) the App may be, it needs to be correct right through. Or it needs to carry a "health warning".

    1. Can we have a blog abut the pedestrianisation of Norwich City Centre?

    2. Load of shit that pal.

      Must do better.

  4. A few days ago, selecting timetables for Essex took you to the First Kernow website, but I see that that has been fixed!

  5. Part of the SBP deal is removal of older buses that don't meet higher emission standards (as you might guess I'm not conversant with the technical details). Also, the Tridents have not been popular/successful/reliable in Sheffield's demanding terrain. The Council cabinet Member for transport has talked of 30 double-decks being soured, which appears to be an exaggeration, but the Volvo/Geminis dispalced from the X78 are now running in Sheffield. There certainly seem to be fewer s/ds on d/d routes than was the case before Christmas.

    1. Incidentally although not popular at Doncaster, the Tridents seem to have settled into life here and reliability is slowly improving. The terrain is much flatter and admittedly they're tired vehicles, they do seem to be delivering better here. Unless the boys at Leger Way are better with spanners!

  6. I meant 'sourced', not 'soured'! Freudian slip?