Monday, 9 May 2016

Lost in Lyme? Physically and Mentally

It Is All Available On-Line
As the introduction of Stagecoach's new 9A extended to Lyme Regis approached, fbb sought solace and inspiration from the Stagecoach web site. Helpful, it wasn't. fbb knew almost before it started that the former routes 52A and B between Exeter and Seaton/Honiton were almost unchanged. So he was looking for a full timetable for the whole caboodle.

So search for 9.
There are the three identical copies of the Barnstaple area service as previously blogged, plus a service 9 to Seaton/Honiton. There was no mention of Lyme Regis.

And the table displayed went no further than Seaton or Honiton. (click on the image below to enlarge it)
As an alternative, fbb tried enquiring about a 9A.
The bottom two gave the same result as for 9 above whilst the top 2, tada!, gave a separated and unconnected 9A between Seaton and Lyme.
And ne'er did the twain meet.

Who designs these things? Does the boss ever look at them? 

After a week of operation, most enquiries manage to come up with a version of the Stagecoach leaflet for 9 and 9A combined.
But not quite. The 9A Exeter to Seaton/Honiton query still produces the internal working timetable without Lyme Regis as pictured above.

Who designs these things? Does the boss ever look at them? 

But then erupts the problem of Lyme Regis. Dedicated blog readers will remember that that route creeps into a Lyme housing area to turn round.
Despite Traveline's inaccuracy, buses run via Anning Road and Queens Walk to a terminus at the end of Kings Way (two words not one - already a problem for the journey planners.) The bus then lurks there for a while ...
... before returning to Lyme Regis Square and thence to Seaton, Sidmouth and Exeter. Now a wary fbb was checking on this for a Sunday (and thus a bank holiday) journey in case he had misunderstood something vital in the timetable, Although it is hard to believe, the chubby one has been known to make mistakes and miss buses.

So, back to the Stagecoach journey planner.
Back comes the answer ...
... with an odd walking man striding out to get to the bus. Uh? Ask for details ...
... and even check on the Stagecoach map.
But the daftness is true. Stagecoach technology tells you to ignore the bus standing at the shelter at the end of Kings Way and walk along to the stop on Anning Road, inexplicably called Cloverdale Court. There you catch the bus at xx19. Phew.

But, and a very big but it is. The bus left the terminus at 1206.
Does it really take 13 minutes to travel about a quarter of a mile along a quiet road on Sunday morning?

Who designs these things? Does the boss ever look at them? 

How does Traveline cope?

It doesn't. Here is Traveline's answer (this time for a 1000 departure on a Sunday).
Let the bus leave at 1006, wait for 15 minutes then sprint off to Langmoor Gardens. And the route of this sprint?
Start from Kings Way (red dot with blue line around it) and follow an utterly impossible trajectory using narrow roads, footpaths and, apparently, swimming down the river Lym before arriving, wet and exhausted at the Langmoor Gardens stop.
Where, sadly, there is no stop. Buses may (or may not) stop there but there is no pole, stop sign or timetable frame to indicate its existence. fbb has been there and, honest injun, there is nowt, zilch, nix and nada.

How can Stagecoach and Traveline get it so horribly wrong.

Who designs these things? Does the boss ever look at them?

Aha, the answer is easy; it's all the fault of the computer!

Amazingly, Google Transit gets it right! 
Although it does get its electronic knickers in a twist with Kingsway and/or Kings Way (delete where inapplicable).

The First Bus journey planner is different again. Again this time you ignore the bus at the stop and walk to Lyme Regis Square to catch it.
But to add to the silliness, it turfs you off at the wrong stop in Seaton.

fbb wonders what regular correspondent (and a very nice man) Ken Traveline-Dorset, makes of it all.

 Next nothing to do with 9A blog : Tuesday 10th May 


  1. Ken Traveline Dorset here.
    I have put an amendment in to Google to point out Kingsway should be King's Way and will amend Open Street Map the same. All Stagecoach Devon services are handled by one of my colleagues based in Plymouth and are generally imported from TransXchange files supplied by the operator thus deemed to be correct.
    There are however certain unmarked stops in Lyme Regis that exist for diversion purposes only. Langmoor Gardens is one such stop being used when buses are unable to access the Post Office stop due to road closures which happen from time to time causing buses to divert back via Uplyme.
    Westbound buses should not normally be attached to this stop. I suspect that First drivers would stop here on a hail and ride basis on X51/2/3 as they are used to these arrangements but Stagecoach drivers and the service planners in Exeter would not have the historical local knowledge.
    The route in Anning Road and Kings Way is a simple fix to force the routeing but again without local knowledge and a copy of the registration with the route then this may not be apparent from the electronic import. X52 is correct here.
    I will have a look at this end of the 9 and send some suggested changes to my Devon colleague for her consideration.

  2. A problem here seems to be that there is no arrival time specified for Lyme Regis Square. I assume buses do not really take 25 minutes to get from King's Way to The Square. I think the fact that it would be quicker to walk is one reason why the journey planners give such strange results, and why they think the bus takes 13 minutes to get to Anning Road (Interpolating between the times for King's Way and The Square)

  3. The ever helpful Ken (why don't all Counties have a helpful Ken?) has introduced King's Way with the apostrophe. Now we know what happens if you don't ask the right question (Kingsway vs. Kings Way), but has the King's way introduced a third imponderable for the hapless user ?

  4. @robbob. You are right. Without an arrival time, the timetable software merely divides the running time equally at any intermediate stops between timing points. It cuases havoc if you use automated systems to produce roadside timetables too.

  5. Traveline journey planner has options: It defaults to fastest journey and up to 20 minutes walk. You can change this and thus tailor the results more to your requirements - but do we bother? At Lyme Regis on Sunday you can leave 15 mins later and enjoy a pleasant walk across the back of town that only the locals normally see and pick up the bus further on.