Friday, 4 November 2016

Exeter Electronics Examined (2)

Is fbb a Tracker Backer?
fbb was awaiting Mrs fbb at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital from approximately 1520 to 1610 and thus should have observed the following departures:-

1515 to St Davids Station (arrives 1512)
1527 to Digby
1530 to University
1545 to St Davids Station (arrives 1542)
1557 to Digby
1600 to University

All buses serve the same stop outside the main entrance ...
... and follow all or most of a one way loop round the grounds. All Stagecoach H journeys use the same stop where they are joined by a hospital dedicated park and ride, PR3.
PR3 is not operated by Stagecoach, so does not "App"ear on fbb's phone.

So all the old boy had to do (?) was match the screen displays from the Stagecoach App with reality and see how the two compare. Times shown on the left are the actual, real, clock times. The BLUE text is referring to what was shown on fbb's phone.

For the next 10 minutes or so the screen maintained next buses at 1600, showing "real time" to Digby and timetabled "unreal time" to University; then changing its mind to "unreal" to Digby and "real" to University. They kept swapping around.

By now Mrs fbb was back at the car and impatient to leave; but as fbb negotiated the road works outside the hospital entrance he espied the 1615 to St Davids queueing for the roadworks at 1617.

Can any conclusions be drawn from this short survey?

Whilst it would be easy to blame the road works outside the Hospital for the actual delays, the effect of a forced wait for two-way lights was not consistent.

It was the inconsistent behaviour of the "tracker" system which was very disappointing.

As well as the usual problem of late running buses disappearing from the screen when they hadn't yet arrived, there was the sillier failure of disappearing journeys well before they were due. Some journeys simply never appeared, even at the timetabled (unreal) time!

There were other more subtle problems. An APP-search for the Hospital brought up a list of several hospital related stops.

None of them was labelled "main entrance"!

So when the system updated (every minute!) it reloaded ALL stops and fbb had to scroll down to the correct location.

When fbb searched for R D & E Hospital, he was offered establishments at Glasgow, Rochdale, Eastbourne, Grimsby, Cambridge, Liverpool, Oxford, Hastings and Cardiff; but NOT Exeter!

Then, of course, there is the fact that buses to "University" also serve St Davids Station. Will uneasy phone-watching passengers let the Uni departures pass them by and wait until their "device" actually says "St Davids"?

fbb saw nobody using their phone.

Maybe the designers of this App should be called Tracker Slackers - or even Crackers!
And more from Buses of Somerset
First's policy of not bothering to update their website is ably illustrated by the page pf maps. With the demise of Webberbus, First no longer consider it commercially viable to run large numbers of buses to the Hospital.

The network map shown only one, service 9.
This runs every hour but on Sundays ONLY. 

Individual route maps show 21/21A running to the hospital.
They don't!

There is also a map for service 54 to the hospital ...
... but it doesn't go there.

On Mondays to Saturdays you have to use the Park and Ride service which, of course, is not shown on the map!

And, by the way ...
... route 14 now goes no further than Cannington.

And whilst engaging in cartographic research, enquirers may like to know that service 5 ...
... has been withdrawn completely, being replaced by some extra wiggles on service 6.

Remember the anonymous email; fbb quoted yesterday?

What a way to run a bus company, the sort of thing you might expect from Charlies Chara’s but not from such a major transport concern, surely.

And who sent it?

A buses of Somerset employee.

Always willing to help out, fbb is happy** to produce maps for all of Buses of Somerset services. They will be accurate and kept up to date,

** For a very reasonable fee.
 Next "various" blog : Saturday 5th November 


  1. Just seen that BoS's 102 route map is still on their website. Can't remember now exactly when this was withdrawn but it must be more than a year ago!!

  2. New development?

  3. Looks like a fantasy or a school project