Wednesday, 6 April 2016

GoTimetable Seaton (1)

Is This the Answer?
It all began with this:-

See "Goodness Gracious Me! (episode 1 indeed)" (read again)

See "Goodness Gracious Me! (episode 2 indeed") (read again)

The idea of having public transport information available on a downloadable app seemed a winner. This idea was reinforced when fbb and No 3 son paid a visit to Sheffield last year. Son, having travelled around, was astounded by the poor information available; or, more correctly, NOT available. "We need to do something about this," he announced.

Between November 2015 and February 2016 work proceeded apace, allowing the newly formed team to have a working version available for demonstration to the powers that be.
The reaction was mixed, ranging from, fbb believes, a genuine interest from one high-up, via overt enthusiasm from some middle management (who were, strangely, bus users!) to another boss's politely expressed view that it wasn't necessary.

It was obvious that a real live demonstration for real live people was needed to help the "campaign" along.

GoTimetable for Seaton will be available  FREE  on the Google Play Store from Monday 11th April.

Tell us more, we hear the cry over the ether.

But first, a caveat.

As this blog was prepared, final tweaks were being made to the presentation, and so the detail may vary slightly on the release version. Nevertheless, let us take a look around.


This is the key to the success and power of the app. Software and timetable data are all downloaded onto the user's Android phone (iOS and laptop versions are coming soon) and is then ready for use at any time. It does not need "a good signal" - it is already there. It takes just seconds to download, by the way. Once in place, just click on the app's logo ...
... currently a clock, but this may change.

Immediately, as in the Sheffield version (above) you get a list of all the service in Seaton, Beer, Colyford and Colyton and selected connections available at Axminster.


Click on the 52A "service card", for example and immediately we can see that there is a warning of impending change ...
... and information about where to look for a replacement.
The full timetable 52A scrolls vertically ...
... and horizontally.
The complete timetable is there (not just bits), plus the all-important reminder of the future change. Apparently the clever programer has made Android scroll up/down and left/right all on the same screen which he says is "challanging". fbb has no idea! Also, please note, all pages work properly in portrait or landscape mode and on Android tablets.


But we can do more than that.

Where is the journey planner, you may ask.

There isn't one.

By far the majority of bus users want to access a timetable. For the last few years "The Industry" has gone potty on journey planning but most passengers will only make simple one-leg journeys. They just want to know when the bus leaves, when it will get there and when to come back. "The Industry" has decided than there is no demand for a printed book any more; so it is more and more difficult for people to find what they want.

This was, and still is, the big beef in Sheffield after the disastrous changes last autumn. But the GoTimetable app can make some simple yet powerful searches.

Tap a departure stop name ...
... and the location will be highlighted.
Tap an arrival stop name ...
... and it, too, will be highlighted.


Then the little bar at the bottom ...
... will invite you to  CHOOSE  a time. fbb is told that this procedure is a standard Android feature - even the chubby one can understand and work it!
Click OK and all the scrolling works automatically taking you to your chosen journey. Slidey, slick and quick.
It is so easy for an inexperienced user to see what is available, when and where. Why, people might choose to nip off to Waitrose to pick up some delectable comestibles on the bus. eople might (surely not?) start using the bus

And that illustrates the basics of a GoTimetable app.


fbb's contribution to the project involves managing the data input, ensuring that stop names make sense to the user rather than fit in with some programer's obscure needs. So, for example, in yesterday's blog, fbb revealed immense confusion and misinformation about the "Museum" stop in Colyford. But there is no museum.

He has renamed the stop as The Wheelwright Inn ...
... and remembers stopping there (aged 10) with his parents for coffee. It was served in chunky brightly coloured coffee cups ...

... not very much like these.

But a cry goes out, "surely the only timetables stop in the village is Colyton The Elms?"
Indeed it is. But this is where a GoTimetable app Goes one stage (or even two stages) further.

As we shall see tomorrow.

 Next "GoTimetable" blog : Thursday 7th April 


  1. Ooh, you rotund teaser!!

    Seriously, can't wait for the road-test, but as an Elderberry user, I will need to wait for the laptop version . . . . perhaps you'll post in the blog when it's ready?

  2. Ta muchly. More reveals to come.

  3. ....obviously if any faults/bugs/data issues are detected on this app as its being developed you'll be ready to rip it to bits on here and start riffing about how the only thing people want is a massive timetable encyclopaedia to carry round?

    Purely for the sake of consistency? Maybe something like "Go Timetable/No timetable part 1"??

    1. The issue with other apps (Google Transit, traveline (sw excluded),First, Stagecoach etc) is that we all know any app will have faults but it's their reluctance to do anything about those faults quickly. I for one welcome this idea and am waiting for the next installment. If there are errors and they get fixed asap then who cares. FBB's points in his blogs have been that often app errors aren't even fixed with major upgrades and are so serious they often render the app useless.

  4. There are errors of fact which can only be fixed if the creator of the root timetable (the bus operator) corrects them. I have already made two corrections to a timetable due in May which the operator had not spotted.

    Then there are errors of interpretation. The use pf "Museum" (see above) is one such. It is a four year old error and is inexcusable. But only research and the support of users can correct them.

    Because GoTimetable Seaton is easy to adjust we are making provision for on-going updayes, corrections and improvements.

    What may be more troublesome is encouraging users to check routinely for updates.

    1. "Errors" of interpretation are always difficult ones to crack. In some cases these are local landmarks that carry on being referred to as they were long after they have closed. Refer to them by a new name, and locals may have trouble working out where you mean, or it cannot be cross-referenced. You call it "Wheelwrights Inn", Stagecoach call it "The Museum." Same place? Different place? How does your app, help the visitor (me), identify where the bus stop is?

  5. Who decreed that "the industry" has decided there is no demand for timetable books any more? Several operators have brought timetable books back in recent years - Buses of Somerset, First Hants & Dorset, Cardiff Bus to name three. I'm aware of at least one other major operator considering producing a printed timetable book. Looks like "the industry" has yet again been unfairly castigated by this Omnibological "expert".

    I note one potentially significant flaw in your wonderful new app (I genuinely look forward to trialing it). What advantage is there for users who could make their desired journey by more than one bus route? I live at A and travel regularly to B (city centre). If I walk eight minutes one way from my front door I have 5 bus routes, if I walk seven minutes the other way I have 2 bus routes and five minutes the other way 2 more routes. I would presumably have to check 9 separate timetables to determine which way to go?

    If I travel from the city centre to hospital I have five bus routes, two reasonably high frequency, one only half hourly but direct and two around the houses but if I'm a new or occasional user I don't know which ones which until I've searched all five timetables on the app by clicking in, selecting times, scrolling, clicking out of every timetable.

    If I travel from home to the station it gets worse, 2 bus routes go direct but I could make the journey by catching 5 of the other 7 routes to the city centre and changing onto other frequent services.

    If I use your go timetable app my head might just explode with trying to work out all the possibilities. Alternatively I could use a journey planner, google transit for instance will tell me journey options within about three clicks plus give me reasonably sensible walking instructions to and from the stops.

    1. Exactly - that paragraph was the dodgiest in the post. My teachers would have written "PROOF?" all over a statement such as "Most people" (or "the majority of bus users" as was the case here). Do they? I usually run a journey on the journey planner and then use 'proper' timetables to adjust the results.

      ""The Industry" has gone potty on journey planning but most passengers will only make simple one-leg journeys." - Really? Do passengers in Seaton never have to change buses?

      ""The Industry" has decided than there is no demand for a printed book any more". - Rubbish. Most operators I know continue to print leaflets at the very least as it is a way of advertising their own services. Councils increasingly have a balancing act between providing free publicity for lazy operators/a combined timetable guide for the convenience of actual & potential passengers and actually providing services to go in them. I'd rather have a bus with three return journeys that are useful but poorly publicised to a bus with one return journey that I know everything about.

    2. I am sure that people are not that fussed about who produces what as long as they have the information. However I am somewhat amazed at the lack of investment in communication by bus companies. Surely it makes sense to provide information as without it you can't grow the market.

  6. Thank you all above for the comments. We are "collecting" all responses and will continue to do so when the app "goes live".

    The people whjo I talk to in Seaton would NEVER contemplate making a two-leg journey. Since the effective withdrawal of the X53, folk will now pay for a taxi to the hospital rather than using the 52A and changing. The two-leg journey is slower but very reliable and the change is easy (just cross the road).

    Pay for a taxi rather than have two free reliably bus rides? Crazy but true