Wednesday 9 November 2011

Stop FS5, The Sequel : Episode 2

On checking blog stats, fbb is reminded that it is just
12 months since Mrs fbb was beset by a senior moment
in London; but helped magnificently to recover!
For newcomers to this blog, see "A Handbag" (read again).
There is plenty of Good Public Transport News.
But possibly not quite such good news at Stop FS5 ...

Ridiculous Routeing Revealed : Again!
We have been exploring on-line departure information for this magnificent tribute to modern public transport infrastructure, namely Stop FS5. Yesterday's blog actually congratulated Travel South Yorkshire on getting something right (read again).

Sadly, such plaudits are premature for most information provided. Option Orange service 120 is jointly operated by Stagecoach and First. During the day, Stagecoach journeys all teminate at the busy Royal Hallamshire Hospital, one stop short of the road closure referred to yesterday.
There is a nice little turning circle just behind the trees on the left. So, of course, you would expect departure infromation to highlight this important destination.

But it doesn't! There is no mention of the Hospital. Instead buses are shown as terminating at Broomhill ...
... but they don't!

Broomhill is a significant shopping centre two stops further west, about a quarter of a mile's walk from the Hospital. An extract from google maps shows this bludner clearly.
The Hospital and its turning circle are top right, Broomhill is on Fulwood Road far left. The road collapse is at King Edwards School near the swimming pool.

The problem is that the "the system" seems to spew out unrealistic district names; and it's not just Broomhill ...
... but Hillsborough that is totally misplaced for stop FS5. First service 53 and its competitive Stagecoach 79 run via Owlerton and Wadsley Bridge.

By no stretch of anyone's imagination (except within TSY's "system") do either of them serve Hillsborough. 
Despite what the map says, Hillsborough is nowadays a major shopping centre and transport interchange at the junction of the A6101 and the B6079 (bottom of map extract). This ...
... is Hillsborough; a view from the bus station near to Morrisons and looking northwards to the traditional shopping centre. For more on "The Hillsborough Question" see a previous blog (here).

The 53 and the 79 do not run this way!
And, by the way, service 79 does NOT, even with extreme imagination stretching, serve Neepsend although its companion 53 does. Weird!

The problem seems to be that the uncontrollable computer software is driving the "system" rather than the needs of the public which should provide the prescription for what information is actually needed.

If you want to get to Broomhill, don't think of catching a Stagecoach 120. Catch a First 51, 52 or 120; or a Stagecoach 52.

If you want to get to Hillsborough, ignore First's 53 or Stagecoach's 79. Catch a 14, 17, 57, 58, 66 or a tram.

There's a pretty good chance that very few people ever use these departure screens on-line, so, why bother to provide them?
fbb knows the answer. TSY provides them because the software provides them, and for no other meaningful reason. The technology tail is, yet again, wagging the information dog.

Positive Point : An email from the elysian heights of South Yorkshire PTE informs fbb that the "wormhole" problem identified at Stop FS5 is being investigated with a view to getting it right.  RESULT! 

Next blog : due Thursday November 10th


  1. I've only been to Hillsborough once in recent years - to see a mind-numbingly boring score draw between Spurs and Sheffield Wednesday about 10 years ago.

    I've tried to re-create this journey using Transport Direct. The system suggests I take a train to Sheffield and take a fairly short walk either to Stop SS2 to catch the 78/79 or to SS3 to catch the 53. In both cases, I alight at a stop described as 'Owlerton, Hillsborough Football Ground' and walk a minute to the ground. It appears that these are the only buses to serve Hillsborough - and having looked at the TSY timetables for these routes they very helpfully highlight HILLSBOROUGH in capitals to show that these do in fact serve this location. The detailed route list describes HILLSBOROUGH as being between Penistone Road and Penistone Road North, which in this context is clearly correct.

    To coin a phrase, by no stretch of the imagination could any routes other than the 53, 78 and 79 be described as serving Hillsborough !

    But then, Transport Direct seems to think that Hillsborough Football Ground is actually in Owlerton, so appears to be misnamed. Sheffield Wednesday Football Club appear to be at the root of this problem - which could of course be resolved by their renaming the stadium.

  2. Like TSY, you are wrong, Anonymous, and right!Hillsborough Stadium is not (and never was) at Hillsborough, neither is it really at Owlerton either. If it MUST have a locality, it would be Wadsley Bridge as "the bridge" is almost across the road from the stands. For more on "The Hillsborough Debate" see an ancient fbb blog:-

    I have added this link to the blog as well.

  3. On second thoughts, a simpler solution would be for TSY to change the descriptions of 53, 78 & 79 to refer to HILLSBOROUGH FOOTBALL GROUND instead of HILLSBOROUGH. I would imagine this would be quite an easy data change and would avoid any confusion. So - how about it, TSY ?

  4. Even better, TSY could stop using dodgy software which inserts erroneous district names based on some sort of geographical algorithm. It would appear that if a bus route just grazes a "district" the dreaded confuser adds it to the route description. One created it appears to be the district names which are then spewed out for departure screens. At the interchange service 95 says it runs via "Western Bank" which it doesn't. "Western Bank" seems to be a TSY invented district. "University of Sheffield" would be more useful and would also be OK for the 95.

    Too much technology, not enough local knowledge!

  5. The useful thing then would be to list district *centres* served which is clear in NaPTAN, but not all 'districts' have centres (e.g. for some Gasworks Road Estate)

  6. NaPTAN? The most unnecessarily over engineered database ever created. At normal print-out page size, 8 sheets of A4 to define one bus stop. No thanks, wolf!

    I do agree, however, that a strict definition of districts as "traffic objectives" is useful, e.g. Broomhill; but not helpful for general destination enquiries. Road names are good, the former Glasgow system e.g. Station Road "at" camelia Crescent seem the most understandable.

  7. Well FBB, regardless of what anyone says or does you are sure to continue to 'entertain' us with all these wonderful "bludners"!
    Anyone got a spare F7 button for FBB....?

  8. "Even better, TSY could stop using dodgy software which inserts erroneous district names based on some sort of geographical algorithm. It would appear that if a bus route just grazes a "district" the dreaded confuser adds it to the route description."

    Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be quite as simple as that. If it were, then the 53 would also be shown as serving Kelham Island, Shalesmoor, Parkwood Springs and Langsett Road, all of which it passes through according to Traveline, but it would NOT be shown as serving Hillsborough as none of its stops are associated with it. Although the list is clearly based on the approach you describe there is apparently scope for omitting some localities and including others if required. 'Hillsborough' has presumably been included as being meaningful to non-Sheffielder visiting football fans, even though the 53 doesn't pass through the locality with the same name - as even Traveline knows.
    So I don't think you can blame the software - some 'real person' apparently takes a decision as to which names are included or not.

    (As an aside, Traveline thinks Royal Hallamshire Hospital is in Western Bank, so where TSY get Broomhill from is a bit of a mystery).

    What is clearly a problem is that some stops may be associated with the wrong locality but don't get omitted from the route lists. The solution is obviously to get the locality right in the first place! In the case of the 79 and Neepsend, the culprit seems to be stop 23738 on Penistone Road at West Don Street. However, if as you say it 'only grazes' Neepsend - would anything else be more meaningful ? Alternatives might be Shalesmoor, Philadelphia, Upperthorpe, Lower Walkley or Hillfoot, none of which seem ideal. However, I would have thought that most Sheffielders, if asked, would associate their home address with some locality or other (Stannington, Nether Edges, Hunters Bar, etc.) and presumably a resident of West Don Street would do likewise. If the answer is Neepsend - so be it - but as only one stop is affected someone should then leave it off the route list in the same way as Kelham Island and Langsett Road are.

    One last point - where do you find the route lists you show in te blog ? I can't locate them in that format anywhere on the TSY site.

  9. Thank you anonymous of 11th November.

    Oddly, data for Traveline is supplied to them by South Yokshire PTE, aka Travel South Yorkshire. Indeed Traveline's descriptors are even dafter!

    To find these "useful" departure lists:- go to Travel South Yorkshire home page, then "journey planning", then "live departure information / at an interchange", then "Sheffield", then "departures from stand" and Robert is your father's brother.

    It's all so very simple to find information on-line.

    Nowhere near as complicated as one of those old fashioned timetable books?

    P.S. Why do we need a locality name if it is "Fuzzy"? Most passengers know where they want to go; those that don't probably have an address and will seek to ask a "person".

    All buses carry an on-board easy access and (usually) reliable guide to the route being followed. This bit of advanced technology is called a "driver".

  10. Not sure about the timetable books. I have just tried to use the March 1975 'Sheffield and Rotherham Districts Bus and Rail Timetable' along with a slightly older Sheffield and Rotherham Bus Map to plan my trip from Sheffield Station to Hillsborough Football ground. It hasn't been that straightforward - particularly as it's by no means obvious where the football ground is just by looking at the map. It lacks any geographical features apart from hospitals, and isn't that easy to follow. Looking at the timetable index is an alternative, but then its not clear that you need to look for Owlerton, rather than Hillsborough, and only having discounted the 2 and 17 do you get to the 42/53 which seem to offer the easiest journeys.
    All in all, I think I prefer the on-line option !