Monday 9 April 2012

Phone a Far-Flung Friend [2]

Travails with Traveline's Trail to Tollcross
fbb, who is on the Isle of Wight, has been asked by Jean, who is on Orkney, to advise on the best bus to catch from Buchanan bus station, which is in central Glasgow, to Tollcross, which isn't! See Phone a Far-Flung Friend [1] (read again)

So, ever obedient to commentators and correspondents who think Traveline is wonderful/useful/OK, fbb asks the oracle:-
Sounds plausible, walk to Ingram Street and catch service 255, given Glasgow's multifarious bus departure locations. It does seem quite a long way, i.e. from Buchanan bus station (top centre) to the Gallery of Modern Art (bottom left) as on this Google Map extract.
Of course you could enjoy the delights of the Buchanan Shopping Galleries, Queen Street Station and Glasgow's centrepiece George Square on the way. fbb's guess is that Jean would be more than anxious for an uninterrupted itinerary.

But the ever suspicious fbb suspects a whiff of an odoriferous rodent.
According to First's first class Glasgow network map, Tollcross is served by routes 61, 240 and 255. The 255 runs every 20 minutes ...
... whereas the 240 offers an easy 10 minute frequency.
But, dear reader, you may have spotted that the 240 and the 255 both start from Buchanan bus station; so why does Traveline tell you to walk for a totally unnecessary 8 minutes to the Gallery of Modern Art on Ingram Street?

Who knows?
For the record, the 61 is also a frequent service, ex Glasgow Corporation running every 12 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime, but it definitely does not serve Buchanan bus station. Mind you, there are stops nearer than Ingram Street!

And who knows where Tollcross is? Various sources offer a variety of locations.

Traveline journey planner
Tollcross at Tollcross Park on Hamilton Road
Traveline PDF timetable
Tollcross at Nursing Home on Hamilton Road
First 240 timetable
Tollcross Killin Street (might be the same as "Nursing Home")

Traveline all stops list
Tollcross Park (as above) plus a few more!
fbb's offer for the "centre" of Tollcross
none of the obvious offerings, rather: Tollcross after Altyre Street ...
... conveniently paced near the Co-op!

Fortunately, Google Maps marks the Nursing Home (middle right); it is some considerable distance from any stop that a "normal" Glaswegan would call "Tollcross", but ...
... the aerial view also shows a stop near the top of Falside Road (top left) which leads onto Newtongrange Avenue.


Reference back to Traveline's stop list gives us a name; "Tollcross Opp Snooker Hall on Hamilton Road" and the ever helpful Streetview shows this shelter ...
... opposite this Snooker Hall ...
.,. aka New Archway Sporting Club.

Jean's original question:-
"What is the best way to get from Buchanan bus station to Newtongrange Avenue, Tollcross?"
fbb's answer:-
"From the bus station, catch a 240 bus, every 10 minutes, and get off at Tollcross Snooker Hall, near the end of Falside Road"

Eureka again, assuming First's driver knows where the stop is and what it is called!

But without a doubt, don't rely on Traveline's journey planner!

Having just completed several hours (?) of dutiful and sweaty research, fbb received a second e-mail from Jean, "Don't worry, they're coming by car to pick me up at Buchanan."

Hey Ho!
 Next blog : Tuesday 10th April 


  1. Oh dear – it’s been a bad weekend for us Traveline supporters – firstly with your problems finding a route to the Preston B&B – and now this !

    However it seems that the background to both issues is similar – and is due to the rather circuitous routings taken by buses in both Preston and Glasgow City Centres - often making it quicker in practice to walk to a different stop than the one which at first seems most obvious.

    In this case, the route of the 240 and 255 from Buchanan Bus Station out of the city is west along Killermount Street, then south for around half a mile along Renfield Street (where it is joined by the 61)and Union Street, then east along Argyle Street.then north along Queen Street (in the general direction of Buchanan Bus Station) to the Gallery of Modern Art where it turns east along Ingram Street towards Tollcross.

    You will have gathered from the above, that by the time the 240 or 255 reach the Art Gallery, they are on the fourth side of a rectangle and have covered around a mile. The Traveline timetable says it takes 12 minutes to cover this part of the journey – which is in line with the 10 minutes shown on First’s timetable to Argyle Street - which is presumably a timing point.

    Now, the stop at Ingram Street is around 600 yards from Buchanan Bus Station – which Traveline suggests is an 8 minute walk, although I personally think this may be a bit optimistic. However, most able bodied people would certainly walk it in less than the 12 minutes it takes the bus, so I would say that the CORRECT answer to the question is to walk to Ingram Street as Traveline suggests, where with luck you may be able to catch a bus that you’d just missed at Buchanan (and, as a bonus you also have the option of the 61, making 15 buses per hour in all). It is certainly what I would do, provided I didn’t have any luggage to carry.

    But, of course, it’s only correct for people who are willing to walk that far (say 60%), and as you say ‘fbb's guess is that Jean would be more than anxious for an uninterrupted itinerary.’ So, better tell Traveline that as well. If you click on ‘Additional Options’ and select ‘I don’t want to change buses or trains’ and ‘I would walk no more than 5 minutes’, that should do the trick. And sure enough, it does – Traveline then responds with a whole series of options using just the 240 or 255. I would say that this is the CORRECT answer for the other 40% of potential passengers.

    And now for the other end of the journey. Judging from your example of the output, you have asked for a trip to Tollcross, without giving any address – and Traveline suggests getting off the bus at Tollcross Park. Whether you think this is reasonable as the centre of Tollcross depends on your point of view, but in my view it seems to paint the district in a rather better light than the co-op.

    However, the ‘trick’ in this case, is that if you want to find a journey to ‘Newtongrange Avenue, Tollcross’ is to enter ‘Newtongrange Avenue, Tollcross’ into Traveline. This gives you the choice between nos 1-57 (postcode G32 8NE) and 2-48 (postcode G32 8NF) and presumably either will do. In any case, Jean will know the answer. Traveline then tells you to get off opposite the Snooker Hall on Tollcross Road and if you click on ‘View on Map’ it brings up a Google Maps display showing that you need to walk a short distance along Tollcross Road, right into Falside Road and left into Newtongrange Avenue. If you click on ‘Walk Details’ it describes this in a bit more detail. What could be simpler?

  2. N McB's defence (?) of Traveline may be appropriate in this case but it also illustrates the problem that computer software has , namely it doesn't know what you know ( or don't know) and you don't know what it needs to know.

    While the no changes and 5 min walk options might provide a better solution here there will be other locations where selecting those may give some really weird result that a straightforward entry may not. In the end, there is no substitute a conversation between two people, one of whom can express the requirement clearly and one of whom knows the territory well.

    And that is still, as it always has been, the problem but unfortunately nowadays providing such options is seen as a cost (which it is) not a benefit (which it also is)

  3. The unsuccessful xephos system was for delivering public transport information. Two clear principles applied : once on a mode (e.g. rail) the journey planner would aim to keep you on that mode unless unrealistic results were generated.
    Walk routes were only added (editorially and manually) where necessary to provide realistic and usable links.
    By trying to deliver all things to all men, modern jps are highly susceptible to this problem.
    You can either be comprehensible or comprehensive, NEVER both.

  4. The oldest complaint on the books.... I can't get them to free phonecalls me back! Customers have been frustrated over this forever! It's the number one customer complaint, heard over and over and over again! But wait, you might also be surprised at how many contractors mutter a similar mantra about their customers not returning their phone calls, either. Who is worse? Customers or Contractors?