Thursday, 4 February 2016

Finding Phil's Phillimore Fiction [2]

... And Ends With An App.
The timetable for route 6 shows a bus every 30 minutes via Bowden Wood and terminating at Littledale. Traveline is the same ...
... as is the timetable from Travel South Yorkshire.
But therein lies a snag. Littledale Mather Road is shown as the terminus. So the table for the opposite direction starts at Mather Road aka Acres Hill School.
They are the same place!
This means there are no inward (to City) journeys from Bowden Wood. Journey planners make you walk rather than allowing you to catch the bus!
It is obvious what is needed. The inward table simply needs a "Bowden Wood" line as below.
Then the journey planners will work properly. When fbb wrote critically about this stupidity in a previous blog, some angry anonymous insisted that the timetable could not be presented "properly" because of the rules of the Traffic Commissioners.


But it could be that an attempt by T M Travel to overcome this anguish in their app might explain the silliness of service 6.
The route is described as "Sheffield - Darnall" with no mention of the cross city Tesco bit.

As explained by Phil Stockley himself, boss of T M Travel, you can track each bus; see how late (or not) it is running and calculate how long it will be before the purple people carrier ...
... pops up to provide passage for the passenger.

So this 6 is going to Millhouses Tesco** (the blue band obscuring the white on red "6 to Millhouses" is caused by the wongler that allows fbb to view his phone on the latop) ... 
But this map-based information is correct.

And this 6 is also going to Millhouses.
Correct; and it is "running on time".

And here is bus number 3.
It is on Greenland Road going "to Millhouses". But it isn't. It is on its way to Littledale! Utterly the wrong direction.
And it will come as no surprise that bus No 4 ia on its way to ...
... Millhouses, again going away from Tesco past the University. It, too, is going the wrong way!

This panel says it is at Western Bank. 

Therein is another snag. Service 6 does not run via Western Bank. Here is the Traveline map which proves it!
The 6 uses Glossop Road (green line) with Western Bank being the red road (not used by 6) road the the top of the map.

So we have two buses going in the wrong direction and at least one completely incorrect piece of route information. There are more. There is no correct usable timetable available and the journey planners gives wrong information.

Whose fault is this?

An fbb motto, oft repeated, is that you must never let the technology tail wag the information dog. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the technology; the problem is the daft way in which it is used. The data which drives the App for service 6 is seriously flawed and, apparently, nobody has noticed. Or perhaps nobody cares. Or perhaps nobody uses it. Or, more worryingly, perhaps nobody knows that it is wrong.

Or maybe people have noticed but just accept that information about public transport is intrinsically daft. Or maybe nobody knows how to put it right.

fbb has been described as a dinosaur; one comment writer suggested that there was little chance of the chubby one being dragged into the modern technological age. After all, he wants a timetable book - snigger snigger.

In fact, fbb is well impressed with technology of the T M Travel App; it does useful and exciting things. Once that usefulness is explained or explored it has considerable potential. But it falls down because it simply isn't right. Getting the data "right" involves hard work and one of these ...
Both can be in short supply when it comes to Public Transport Information. It is just too easy to dish up dodgy data, even in a well designed piece of software.

Rant over. fbb now goes into hiding in the bloggers' safe house as Phil Stockley explodes!

And a big thank you to those blog readers who pointed out the anomalies. They did wish to remain anonymous!

** Millhouses Tesco : It is misleading to call it "Millhouses" and even more misleading to call it "Abbeydale" as T M Travel does. Abbeydale is the dale within which is located Beauchief Abbey and it is a couple of miles away. But Tesco calls itself "Abbeydale"! Frankly, the best label is "Tesco Abbeydale Road" but even this is not ideal.

 Next bus blog : Friday 5th February 


  1. I used the Stagecoach Devon live depatures again and the B finally arrived 5 minutes after live departures claimed it was there. The 52a from Exeter was 7 minutes late tge whole way but showed as on time all the way to Sidmouth Waitrose where it miraculously became 7 minutes late and then it correctly updated all the way to arrive at the triangle 5 late..although it still showed us as having stopped at all the stops we actually bypassed in Sidmouth due to the road closure. I understand live deps can be dodgy in rural areas but it was never correct all day for T,J,A,Blue or 52A/B services within Exeter City boundary. It's better than nothing but I wouldn't, as the website suggests, have that last minute latte as you certainly can't rely on it.

  2. Three points:-

    1. Glossop Road into Sheffield has recently been closed because of road and/or building works and the No. 6 shown on Western Bank was probably on the mandatory diversion, so the app was very likely correct in reporting the bus's actual location.

    2. Tesco Abbeydale Road is definitely NOT ideal as a label because there are at least Tescos on Abbeydale Road AND another on Abbeydale Road South.

    3. TM Travel have recently produced a very neat-looking 48-page Sheffield Travel Guide on high quality paper - ideal for anyone with dinosaur tendencies. Maybe Mr Stockley should send FBB a review copy?

  3. RLT. No to Western Bank. The potty PTE data locates Royal Hallamshire Hospital at "Western Bank" and this is where Phil's (wrong) nomenclature comes from.

    1. Indeed so. The Western Bank diversion finished before Christmas so the No. 6 concerned must have been running about six weeks late!

      In other Sheffield news- the effects of recent service changes has been to further reduce the supplies of leaflets- a visit to Arundel gate the other day shoed no more than half a dozen different ones gracing the nbare shelves. If TM have supplied the PTE with any 46-page guides they are well hidden. And, apart form some Penistone Line leaflets smuggled across the state line from West Yorkshire, no leaflets for local rails services in South Yorkshire are available at the station beyond those like Leeds-Nottingham which Northern have historically produced. What a farce.

    2. I was driving in the vicinity the other day (it was probably last Saturday - definitely not before Christmas!) and found Glossop Road towards Sheffield closed beyond Clarkson Street, so that all city-bound traffic (obviously including service 6 buses) was diverted up Clarkson Street and would have had to pass the exact spot at which bus No. 4 was shown above. I contend that this remains a possible explanation.

      As to the TM Travel Sheffield Guides they were readily available in the racks in SYPTE's Arundel Gate TIC yesterday, whereas there was very little for First and Stagecoach services, as Mr Drat has found.

  4. I gather Phil is finding "B"s in Europe, so you may be able to come out of hiding for a few days!

  5. As an aside those pinky purple buses on route 6 that have no branding are causing some confusion as many potential passengers aren't actually sure which operator the bus is and whether their ticket is valid!