Monday 5 September 2016

GoTimetable : Impressive Interoperability

fbb makes no apologies for reviewing GoTimetable Sheffield. He has been involved, in a smallish way, with data management but makes no financial gain from the current product. Indeed, the whole team has, so far, worked for nothing in their own free time. They are passionate about making timetables easily accessible and as understandable as the wiles of the bus operator will allow.

Hence this series of blogs.
The team's possible aspirations seem, in the style of "Only Fools and Horses", to be very unlikely!
Multiplatform Matters
The two spurs which begat the GoTimetable project were a bus timetable App from Delhi (!) and the appalling standard of public transport information in Sheffield. So work started, just before Christmas 2015 in creating and App for Android phones. Several abortive visits to Sheffield, meeting with transport top dogs, simply ended up with a lack of mutual understanding. The PTE philosophy was, "It's all available on line and that's all right, then."

Perhaps a live public demonstration might help? Hence GoTimetable Seaton, which launched for Android devices in Spring 2016.

In parallel with this, the Go Timetable Sheffield App was being developed. This was demonstrated in Sheffield to various important people, again with an lack of overt enthusiasm from all but one of the representatives. Maybe the concept was just too "different"?

Undeterred the team then moved on to create a similar service for the web. The remit was to make it look as close to the Android front end as possible.

Ideally it should be well nigh impossible to tell the difference. If the team could achieve this, then users of laptops, tablets, Apple iPhones and iPads would have a similar product.

The bonus of the Android App would remain, however. It is downloaded onto the device as a complete package, thereafter needing no signal to make it work.

So here is an enquiry on an Android phone ...
... and the same enquiry on an iPhone using the internet.
The extra yellow band is because the iPhone user searched for "Crimicar Lane" and was given the choice of stops at the top of the hill and at the bottom.

Here is the same journey on an Apple Mac Mini (part screen only).
And on a typical tablet.
Even on an Android e-reader!
Weirdly, fbb could do exactly the same journey search on his "connnected" TV ...
... but choosing the letters etc. using the on-screen cursor keys is definitely not the easy way to enquire!

The problem with many sites today, is that the web version has been redesigned to fit on a phone or tablet screen, making the images too big for the lap top and requiring much scrolling and fettling to get at what you want. By starting with the phone and moving up in size, the GoTimetable team has produced a user-friendly balance.

"Why no iPhone or iPad downloadble version?" people have asked. The answer is, as it often will be, to do with ££££money££££. Creating something on the web costs nothing (except the programers time and a bit of "server" space); Android software is "open source" and therefore largely free; BUT Apple involves spending real money to deliver the iOS product.

Assuming a modicum of success with Sheffield, the iPhone version will be delivered. Watch this space!

fbb has been told that both versions of the software are technically advcanced. The old man's eyes glaze over at this point and his brain sinks into "sleep" mode.

But it doesn't look particularltyimpressive.

But that is just the point. It works; it delivers timetables quickly and without lots of poking and prodding; it does what it says on the screen.

Even if you don't live in Sheffield, please give it a try. Feedback is welcomed.
GoTimetable Sheffield
For information go to


More on what has been needed to make it all work smoothly and accurately on tomorrow's blog.
But, until then, and still in Sheffield; bus watchers may like correspondent Roy's pictures of the first and second buses on the new Bus-No-More-Rapid-Than-Its-Predecessor Transit X1 which started yesterday.

First ever X1 from Sheffield

Second evet X1 from Sheffield
Roy must be hyper keen (or an insomniac!) as we check out the Sunday morning timetable.
The second trip only runs to Rotherham, then the bus toddles off to do something else, so does not warrant a new (nearly a year old) not-yet-fully-branded bus.

And more good news. From this morning, First Bus' web site has, at long last, managed to  supply an X1 timetable.
But you cannot have a map, Although the leaflet has an excellent piece of cartography, (part shown on yesterday's blog) ...
... there is nothing on the First web site apart from the out of date PTE offering still showong the 69.
Ditto out-of-date Rotherham:-
In the interests of even-handedness, the PTE site (Travel South Yorkshire, TSY) does have a map (of sorts).
The TSY network maps (in full colour) require 7 clicks; the route map a modest five clicks assuming you know that there is a map there.

But hooray for up-to-date GoTimertable Sheffield. Each timetable has a clickable/tappable "MAP" in the header revealing a simple, clear and informative route diagram.
More tomorrow:.

 Next GoTimetable blog : Tuesday 6th September 


  1. Even more impressive when you know I photographed the last 69 at around 2330 the night before

  2. At 1640 still no menton of X1 on stop at ES3 lots of people stood at stops on attercliffe common with 69 on stop , X1s sailing past

    No stops. on wicker , passengers for Sheffield interchange taken to Arundle gate to a stop that is in the middle with the nearest access via a very dodgy staircase

    Welcome to public transport in the 21st century in the 4th largest city in UK


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