Sunday 31 March 2013

A Stagecoach Reproach

A Fankle in Fife
Hamish Munro of Kirkaldy
Thinks bus information is shaldy.
The times to Tower Bar
Are well below par
When can he enjoy a wee taldy?

There are plenty of buses between Kirkcaldy (pronounced Kerr-coddy) and Methil near Leven in Fife ...
... but Fife Council's bus map is diagrammatic rather than geographical. There's a map on some of the Stagecoach leaflets, but they, too, give only sparse detail.

Also, there is an Fife Council enlargement of the Leven and Methil area which is a little more helpful.

It actually shows the Tower Bar ...

... where Hamish likes to meet his pals for a lunchtime toddy (or three). What is even better is that bus 8A also runs past Hamish's 'wee butt and ben' on The Fairway, Kirkcaldy.
So Hamish can travel to and from his "wee toddy" lunchtime enjoyment without fear of a bag-blowing incident; a simple door-to-door journey. All he has to do is to read his Stagecoach leaflet for services 8 and 8A. This timetable shows one 8A bus an hour.
So Hamish cleverly extracts the times of the 8A and writes them on the back of an envelope. So now it's all very clear; except that it isn't. Here are some of Hamish's notes retyped by fbb for this blog. Monday to Friday from home to bar  Kirkcaldy to Leven  is OK; he can understand that.
But coming back  Leven to Kirkcaldy , also Monday to Friday, is less clear.
There's no start to the hourly pattern for the 8A; when is the first xx03 departure from Tower Bar? But the 1403 or, more likely, the 1503 will be OK. What about  Kirkcaldy to Leven  on Saturday?
For an early evening tipple, is Hamish's bus at 1709? or 1707? and how many hours' worth of buses are there between 1557 and 1757? What about coming back  Leven to Kirkcaldy  on Saturday?
From Tower Bar 0903 and every hour until 1713. So there's a bus at 1703, then? The another one at 1713?

The problem, dear readers, is that bus companies use the "and then these minutes past each hour" technique to save printing space; BUT they are wont to trim too enthusiastically and leave an element of ambiguity, especially where the timetable has the complication of more than one route.

One way to avoid misunderstandings is to show every journey; but if space-saving is also cost saving, then there are certain principles which should always be applied. A complete set of the times that will be repeated should be shown before the repeat. This would resolve the Monday to Friday times from Leven above.

Likewise a complete set of matching times after the repeat is best; second best would be to ensure that at least the first time after the repeat matches the pattern. Here are the three faulty extracts shown correctly.

 Leven to Kirkcaldy  Monday to Friday

 Kirkcaldy to Leven  Saturday

 Leven to Kirkcaldy  Saturday

The results of one survey being kicked around during the time of the Great Britain Bus Timetable suggested that at least 60% of the populace could not read a bus timetable. When fbb was contributing his two penn'orth to the halls of academe, the maths syllabi always used bus timetables as a practical example of the usefulness of simple arithmetic. But probably no longer.

The recent CILT survey suggests that print is still the preferred option of Joe Public even if bus managers can hide their inactivity behind the dubious glories of the interwebnet. See Busing's piece from Good Friday (read here).

Maybe more people would understand timetables if they were, erm, understandable?

Worth a try, eh?

 Next Bus Blog : Monday 1st April 
P.S. fbb usually finishes his daily blog the previous evening and sets the fiendishly clever gubbins to publish it at 0200 the next day. For what the industry often calls "operational reasons", tomorrows effort will appear, bits and bytes permitting, at 0600. Unfortunately the post was released in error (briefly) on Friday afternoon due to digital (fingers) and digital (computer) imcompetence. fbb apologises unreservedly to First Bus and Transdev for breaking the news embargo.
Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, so they went in; but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They stood there puzzled about this.
There is no particular need to challenge the veracity of the various narratives referring to the empty tomb. The reaction of those who went to complete the interrupted burial rituals was a mixture of fear, frustration and confusion. None of the initial reactions countenanced a resurrection.

The challenge is how best to interpret what they found.

In the end there a only two possibilities. Either Jesus did rise from the dead, however unpalatable that might be to the cynical secularist; OR he didn't rise from the dead. Both options provoke a series of further questions.

But if he didn't, there really is only one further query that matters. Why did no-one produce a body? That would be the drop-dead easy way to scotch the resurrection rumour-mongers at a stroke. Why not a "cunning plan" to produce a badly battered replacement body? Accounts reveal that the temple spin-meisters bribed the guards to keep quiet and began mendacious rumours that the disciples had stolen the corpse. But they did not arrest a single follower of Jesus. Why not?

The (interpreted) truth seems to be that even the enemies of Jesus had to accept that the empty tomb was, literally, a super-natural event.

So, if he did rise from the dead ...

The implications are huge, not least for the eternal future of you and me and the world itself.

The dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. Then the sea gave up its dead. Death and the world of the dead also gave up the dead they held. And all were judged according to what they had done. Then death and the world of the dead were thrown into the lake of fire. (This lake of fire is the second death.) Those who did not have their name written in the book of the living were thrown into the lake of fire.

Laughable ludicrous imagery or an attempt at the terrifying truth? The empty tomb means we all have to decide.
Happy Resurrection Day!**
Enjoy the chocolate!
** "Easter" takes its name from a Norse God "Eostre" referred to by the 5th century writer, "the Venomous Bede"(?). Sadly, there is no evidence that such a Goddess ever formed part of the Norse canon of Deities. So Christians in the UK name the most important festival of the year after a non-existent pagan Norse Goddess. Only quirky Brits could manager such a daftness.

1 comment:

  1. A bit unfair, as, if you look at the Stagecoach timetable, the 8A is clearly an infrequent variation of the 8, and is shown in that context. So it shows where the recurring minutes start and end for the 8/8A as a whole, not just for the 8A. From Leven, it applies between 0940 and 1620 on Saturday, so there is an 8A at 1000 and every hour until 1600, but then the 1700 is delayed to 1710 as the combined frequency drops from 20 minutes to 30, then 60 for the evening. All perfectly clear in the public timetable, but not in in FBB's extract, which loses that detail.