Thursday 4 August 2011

Chaos at Carterton [3]

With a fanfare of trumpets, the truth is revealed!

Clearly, this answer for a journey from Eynsham to Carterton is utter bilge; and that is being kind.
There is a perfectly usable route running every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime, with no walking, no changing and no being turfed out ignominiously near the Health Centre. The obvious source of this correct information is from Stagecoach's web site.
There now:- Eynsham Church at 03 and 33 minutes past each hour; arriving 42 minutes later at Carterton Crossroads (45 and 15 minutes past each hour, respectively). A 42 minute journey that compares well with the 57 minutes offered by Traveline above!

So, how does Traveline manage mess it up so spectacularly? It is a real skill, only deliverable after years of training at the Traveline School of Misinformation.

To Understand, WE need a simple map.
This, from Stagecoach, explains that both the S1 and the S2 do various one way loops via Upavon Way to get to the Crossroads.
Again, no problem for Uncle Brian; he shows times for the loop on journeys TO the town and again FROM Bovingdon Road via Carterton crossroads and on to Oxford,
so it's all crystal clear.

Now Traveline can take this simple, well ordered piece of information and turn it into untold chaos. Here's how:- 
The computer chappies seem to think that the service terminates at Bovingdon Road (near the Health Centre). To go back to Oxford, the route STARTS at Bovingdon Road, runs round the small purple loop as shown on the map, and is then shown as calling at the Crossroads but ONLY on the way back. So (are you still paying attention?) to get TO the Crossroads the system would want you to get off at Bovingdon Road, wait half an hour and catch the next bus round the loop. That takes too long, so it tells you to walk. Got it?

It gets even sillier later on in the day, when, astoundingly, the service is shown as terminating at Brize Norton roundabout,
which isn't at Brize Norton and it's over three miles from Carterton. Lots of people might want to get off here, surely? Yes, you are right, it IS in the middle of nowhere.
So evening enquiries give even dafter results, so daft no-one would EVER use them.
fbb would really recommend a journey which involves waiting for 30 minutes at a roundabout in the middle of nowhere. Especially in the dark. And when it's pouring with rain. And freezing cold. Remember, in reality, there is a through bus every 30 minutes every evening.

To answer fbb's questions from Episode 2 (read again),

1. Direct service S1 IS there but the data has been input in such a potty way that it can NEVER give correct results.

2. Typical traveline tyros and technicians don't actually know (or even care) where the buses go. Just  shove in raw data and everything is hunky-dory.

3. We spend £50 million on Traveline and another £50 million on Transport Defunct because ... answers please to:-

Department of Transport,
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street

Why not write and explain about Carterton to them? They won't understand, poor things; something about not living in the real world.

Next blog : due Friday August 5th  


  1. Computer software seems to find it very difficult to cope with loops, As well as Traveline and Travel Direct National Rail does too. The problem seems to lie in the fact that the journey often doesn't have a finishing or timing point, except at the other end of the route. Now, we mere humans can take on board the concept of a loop and read, as in your Carterton example, how Stagecoach show outward timings up to the last point on the loop and inward timings from the first point.

  2. As guardian of the (commercially failed) xephos system, I can assure daddysgadgets that loops work fine therein. The ensuing problem is, of course, that some parts of journeys IN the loop will appear twice. However, enquiries for such journeys will be minimal in most cases.
    I know of no technical reason why Traveline and Transport Defunct cannot do the same.

  3. Hi Ken traveline Dorset here. If I need to make a loop work, I simply add an appropriate final time point that usually matches the operators public timetable so that the loop is covered in and out. As fbb says, its easy to do but it has to be done proactively. All such instances in Dorset are done that way. Unfortunately SY (and Oxontime - Carterton?) amongst others seem to think that you can use the real time data where the loop is generally on the inward section after the driver has booked up to trigger the journey. It does mean that the data person has to know how buses work rather than how computers work!!