Friday, 7 October 2016

APPalling ; The Only Word (3)

What Is It For?
At least one anonymous upbraided fbb fpr expecting the Stagecpach journey planner to allow you to plan journeys. The gist of his point was that, if fbb wanted a multi operator jp he should not bother with Stagecoach.

Of course fbb would know that; and on the rare occasions that he is forced to use a jp, fbb would start with Traveline. Under what circumstances would a user want a single operator jp? The vast majority of bus enquires can be more effectively answered with a timetable (e.g. when is the next 9A bus from Sidmouth to Seaton?) with the added bonus that that all information about that chosen service is on hand with no additional prodding, poking or tapping.
A locally focused timetable is what the people want, which is precisely why the GoTimetable technology was developed.
Presumably those few who are keen on the Stagecoach App already know where they want to go, already know that Stagecoach runs the bus they want and don't mind at all that they cannot access a proper timetable. If that process "floats your boat", then this App may well be ideal.

But what sort of mess will you get in if you come upon the little multi-coloured football not knowing its limitations. Very few Seaton residents have heard of Traveline but they see Stagecoach buses every day. So ...

fbb's advice to Stagecoach is to ditch the journey planner and replace it with an efficient timetable search and delivery function. At least one reviewer on the Google Play site agrees.
Back, for the moment to fbb's review. The third section on the home page is the most mystifying.

 Bus stops 

This does what it says on the tin. "Enter street, town or postcode"

Entering fbb's postcode the App supplied six different stops at 3, 4 , 6, 6, 7 and 9 minutes walk from the front door. There is only one bus route, namely the 9A, but the daft database still offers:-

Bus 9A to Seaton  2012
Bus 9A ro Exeter  2019

Further tapping gives the "timetable" (ha jolly ha!)

2012 Seaton Harbour Road
2013 Seaton Marine Place

Of Exeter there is no sign. Does the bus go there or not?
Of course it does; as shown in the right hand column courtesy of GoTimetable Seaton. But Stagecoach simply cannot tell you that.

Readers of yesterdays blog will remember that unless you were a very ill-defined "near to the bus route", you were not allowed to see any times on the table.
But yet these times are in there somewhere, deep in the bowels of the deeply flawed database.

Change your location to Sheffield and here is a planned journey from fbb's old pied à terre to the centre of Sheffield.
Times are there in the journey planner; but they are not allowed in the "timetable" because fbb mansions are not near to Fulwood in Sheffield. Note also the mysterious route F120. Don't tell Stagecoach but that is a First Bus journey! Needless to say, Stagecoach don't tell you that.

So what is it for?

Even more mysterious are the "disappearing running times". Here is a non-timetable for a service 52 (Sheffield again) with the helpful "we won't tell you the times" note at the top.
But as this flashed on the screen, fbb was certain that he saw some greenish-blue "stuff" to the left of the red line. It only appeared momentarily but by dint of videoing Mrs fbb's phone and snapping a screen shot from that, this appeared:-
fbb reckons that these are the running times from Wisewood, the outer terminus of First Bus service 52A.

So at least all the data to show timetables (whether you are near the route or not) is there in the bowels of the App.

So what is it for?

About 80% of the reviews on Google Playstore are, at least in part, negative. Here some of the more juicy.
Of course, there are positive reviews but most of them are so effusive that fbb must assume that the writers are either not using the App for real, or, maybe, only referring to an enquiry for their local, well known route.
Some five star reviews are strange ...
... very strange and many are anonymous.


If this blog seems more than usually rambling, more woolly and ill defined; that is because the strangeness of the App had that effect on your befuddled blogger.

What is Stagecoach trying to provide with this App? Does it really give people what they want or is it yet another example of the technology tail wagging the information dog?

What is it for?

A Combpyne P S
So penned a comment writer on yesterdays blog.
The 9A timetable refers to Westhayes Caravan Site.
There is no such place. It is actually called:-
Traveline lists both.
Actually the Park is in Devon; the border with Dorset is a mile or so further east. But postally it is "in" Lyme Regis.
But nobody, except Stagecoach, thinks it is at Combpyne. As there is only one Westhayes Caravan Park listed in the "national" Traveline index ...
... and it nearly matches the postal address, the additional descriptions are simply not necessary. Westhayes Caravan Park is unique. And no memtion of Combpyne!

Which is another good reason for being profoundly disappointed with the new(ish) Stagecoach App.

 Next varieties blog : Saturday 8th October 


  1. I think this used to be a blog about Public Transport.

    It now seems to be half Daily Mail style outrage and half infomercial for FBB's own product.

    Also, going back to Tuesday's blog, FBB has unfortunately been disingenuous and plain wrong.

    "Oddly, there are three First Bus depots in the county of cider apples. Yeovil's business is controlled by Southampton; Taunton (Buses of Somerset) is controlled by First Kernow at Camborne and Wells is a sub depot of Bristol and/or Bath."

    Firstly, there are four full depots - FBB missed out Bridgwater.

    Secondly, Yeovil is managed by Weymouth (FFS - he's met the man in his office).

    1. Technically there is Bath and Weston-super-Mare as well.

  2. Informed sources elsewhere suggest that Yeovil is about to be moved into the control of Buses of Somerset.

    As far as Westhayes is concerned, isn't it good that Stagecoach are being consistent with using the name allocated by Devon County Council, rather than making their own name up? That way, all journey planners provide consistent information - how would you know it is the same stop if one system decides to call it something else? GoSeaton should be lobbying DCC to change the name, so that some kind of consistency is possible across all these various information systems.

  3. It would be good, Shieldsman, if the name were correct - but it isn't. It is good to be consistently wrong? It might be good if the stop name needed qualifying, but it doesn't. Technology overkill.

    GoTimetable Seaton uses "west Hayes Caravan Park; the correct name for stop and business.