Tuesday 6 September 2011

Web Sites, Used or Confused? [1]

The Search is on ...
In an fbb exclusive, our photographer has had access to the Police search for a missing bus route. Here the search teams comb scrubland near Carisbrooke Castle. So why this feverish investigative activity? Where has this lost route gone?

First, fbb was informed that a new service 36 would be starting from Newport Isle of Wight to the minuscule settlement of Gatcombe; nice church but not much else.
Then a usually reliable source reported that the 36, which did not appear in Southern Vectis' [SV] publicity, would not be starting after all. This, despite the fact the the timetable was published on Traveline and Transport Defunct.
The note 1, by the way, indicates that the bus runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday only, although some earlier reports said that the service would run 5 days a week. Presumably the privileged passenger, (personal pal of some politician, perhaps?) now only wants to travel on three days?

Now the usually reliable source has back-tracked (unusually and unreliably) and informs fbb that the 36 WILL be operating but only until 21st October, when it will be withdrawn completely!

So, back to Southern Vectis trendy web site where, of course, this error will have been rectified. Won't it? The SV web site is contracted out to the Ray Stenning "Best Impressions" design organisation ...
... so, what do you think?

The inconclusive search was completed at 2000 on Monday 5th September, approx six hours after the last service 36 bus of the day was scheduled to leave Newport at 1410; perhaps, or even maybe?
The above is part of the summary of the September 4th changes, still no 36. And on the timetable pages, once again ...
... no service 36. So, does it run or doesn't it? Is there a service 36 or isn't there? Hence the frantic search as photographed above. Or, as part of a public transport conspiracy, is the idea not to tell anyone the route exists, then no-one will complain when it is withdrawn?

But fbb is made of sterner stuff and he has sent a vast team of colleagues (well, one, actually) out and about in Newport to obtain (hopefully) a picture of the ghostly, mysterious and possibly non-existent service 36. IF the search produces results, fbb will publish in a stop press blupdate.

And, another mystery. How often does the service 6 run?
Looks like ten trips a day, Monday to Saturday. So why do the lists of Island bus frequencies, the newly published summary lists on bus stops throughout the Island, say that there are only 5 buses a day on service 6? More missing journeys? Another search of the hinterland, this time of Ventnor?

Or is it that the other five trips are not actually SV journeys, but part of the Community bit of the "Partnership" and so don't appear on the SV database which generates these pages? Surely they wouldn't miss out HALF the service, would they? Not in a partnership?  Surely?

So the question remains ...

Does anyone who builds these web sites and manages the clicknology actually use what they create? Or is everything so subcontracted, so computer driven, and so buried deep in bits and bites that the useful truth is almost lost and gone for ever.

Web Sites, Used or Confused? Guess!

In the meantime, let's be a little bit positive. fbb is indebted to friend Alan for sending this picture ...
... of the very first journey, yesterday, of the new service 31 running local routes in Ventnor.  The revised 31 is supported financially by the Isle of Wight Council but, oddly, is not part of the super-duper new "big society" Community Bus Partnership. But there is no doubt that the 31 exists, unlike the questionable 36.

Next blog : Wednesday September 7th  


  1. According to Traveline, the 35 also goes to Gatcombe Church. Both Traveline and Transport Direct are still showing the 35 and 36 operated by SV today (6 Sept).

    Presumably the date of your 'inconclusive search' was in September?

    I cannot of course offer any explanation for the inaccuracy of the information. Perhaps the service was registered, and subsequently cancelled, but the cancellation has not been properly recorded?

    Of course, printed material can also be wrong, or out of date... Yesterday evening, I walked to a village near to Freiburg, where a glass case on the wall of the 'Rathaus' displayed a map of the public transport services in the area of the local 'Verkehrsverbund' (Tariff-Union). The map is dated 1986! Needless to say, there have been a few changes since then!

  2. "inconclusive search" was indeed September, month now corrected. Piut it dowqn to old age, AGAIN! The 35 did, at one stage in its recent history, serve Gatcombe on request but currently does not, despite what Traveline and Transport Defunct may suggest. Thanks RC169.

  3. I can state categorically that the registration for route 35 (which was produced by the Isle of Wight Council for Southern Vectis when it was agreed to run it at very short notice) does run via Gatcombe and that it will do so.

    I am not aware that the 35 has ever run anywhere near Gatcombe at any time, on request or otherwise.

  4. I think "anonymous" refers to the 36 in his first paragraph. Possibly. But the usually unreliable Traveline undoubtedy shows the current 6, the mysterious 36 and the current 35 as running via Gatcombe. Indeed the map with the service 35 shows it as running via Gatcombe Church!
    So, your awareness, anonymous, needs updating! Perhaps!
    The point is made yet again - the technology is hopeless, misleading, confusing and often just plain wrong.
    Do the people who create Traveline ever check what they are doing?
    NO. If they did, they would realise how bad it was.

  5. FBB, I posted another comment earlier this evening which now seems to have disappeared into cyberspace. I suspect it will have been diverted to the "spam" area because it contained a link to another website. This occasionally happens with comments on the Omnibuses blog as well - maybe you can 'set it free'? The link is quite harmless!

    The gist of my point was that it seems that the data on Traveline and TD is supplied by operators and/or local authorities. It appears that they have to choose their own software to upload their data to Traveline and TD (the site I found suggests there is one database used by both). I doubt very much that a satisfactory automated update system could be developed due to the nature of the data, so it will depend on a human being to submit updated data to Traveline. Failure to do that at the appropriate time will result in Traveline/TD presenting incorrect data to the enquirers.

  6. I refer to the new 35 running via Gatcombe Church, which Traveline correctly shows on their map. What makes you so convinced that it does not? I think it is your awareness that needs updating, or are you just trying to be misleading, confusing and just plain wrong.

  7. Anonymous said...

    "I refer to the new 35 running via Gatcombe Church.."

    Anon, you need to re-read your first post again (6 Sept at 17:16). In the first paragraph you refer to service 35, saying that it runs via Gatcombe, Church, and will continue to do so. Then in your second paragraph, you refer to service 35 again, saying that it has never run to Gatcombe, Church! Without overdoing the point, both paragraphs cannot be right!

    The dreaded human element known as a 'typo' strikes again, and confuses all of us!

  8. Just to make it absolutely clear, "I refer to the new 35" means the new 35 from 5th September, hence the use of the word new. When I said "the 35 has never run to Gatcombe" I meant that prior to the new 35 route that I refer to above, a route 35 has never run to Gatcombe, to my knowledge. I hope this is now crystal clear and that both statements are unambiguous.

  9. Gosh, this IS exciting! A further blog will be published on Friday, sub-headed "Gatcombegate, the Final Word". Or is it?

  10. The PDF timetable on the SV website for the 6 now (7 Sept) only shows the 5 journeys referred to in the publicity.

    Traveline still suggests an hourly frequency around 13:00 - 15:00 today. TL still mentions the 35 and 36 as serving Gatcombe Church. However, the PDF timetable for the 35 from the SV website makes no mention of Gatcombe at all, although I suppose it might be 'taken as read' that the bus passes through Gatcombe village on its way to Chillerton. However, it is not exactly clear.

    It appears that the human element has failed again by not updating the data in Traveline/TD and on the SV website punctually. The problem would appear to be with the data that Traveline et al has, rather than the system itself. The data would seem to be the responsibility of the local authorities and the bus operators.

  11. Well, what do you know? I have now managed to download a timetable for the mysterious service 36 from the Southern Vectis website. If you go to http://www.islandbuses.info/, hover your mouse over 'bus times' in the menu at the left, a sub-menu will appear with 4 items, the last of which is called 'WightBus'. Click on this, and you will receive a PDF file with 41 pages. I must confess I had not realised that routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, ... were operated by WightBus, but then we learn something new every day. If you go to page 41 of said PDF, there is service 36 in full detail, including Gatcombe Church. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a single date on this worthy publication, so I have no idea if it is current. The confusion is thus increased rather than reduced!

    But please don't blame the computer for that. Somebody (a human being) put all this inconsistent data onto the computer. I'm afraid it starts to look as if SV themselves are responsible for this situation. Their own website also has conflicting information about the 6, with the summary of changes made 4/9/2011 saying that it runs hourly, but the timetable itself only showing the 5 journeys.

  12. As I think I have posted here before, the first thing I learnt when doing computer studies many years ago was GIGO - Garbage In Garbage Out. There is too much reliance on the use of systems with no facility for quality checking.