Tuesday 24 September 2013

fbb Goes to University [2]

fbb, Mrs and chum Julia were spending a weekend in York earlier this month. On the Friday, the wettest day since Noah bought his original umbrella, fbb was given per to spend the best worst part of the day "playing buses". Competition in the city is mainly focussed on the University "honeypot", so it was here that fbb sought to sample a look-see.

To prepare for the day, before travelling northwards, fbb set out to collect the information. First from friendly First on-line:-
Well, fbb didn't!
According to the site, First had stopped operating buses in York! No timetables were available. There was an apology (of sorts) ...
... which conveniently forgot that Traveline Yorkshire does NOT provide downloadable or on-screen timetables; just little bits of them.
click on the image  for a full-sized view

But, historically, York City Council had its own enquiry service with a splendidly equipped office a few yards from the busy Rougier Street stops. GONE (closed down). It also ran its own on-line journey planner service. GONE (now uses Traveline). It's dedicated local telephone service  is now  DOWNGRADED to a link from a local number to the sainted Travline. But there is a timetable site ...
... which, sadly, only provides links to operators' data; hence ...
... back to square one!

But there is better news, maybe! When fbb arrived at York railway station he spotted this poster displayed very un-prominently in a gloomy part of the entrance area:-
So on that precipitation prolific Friday, fbb went to "find us".

There, coralled in a corner of a huge booking hall, half hidden behind the necessary queueing sheep-pens, was a leaflet rack.
As fbb peered for his chosen selection, a voice spoke out, "Can I help you, sir?" and there, clearly (in)visible for all to see was a real City of York person.
Spot the hair-style!

"I can't see a 44 leaflet," responded your soggy blogger.

"We never get any of those," replied the helpful but less-than-visible young gell, "I think that's because it runs every 10 minutes, so you don't really need one."

Fortunately, fbb had been able to download a 44 timetable back at the Devon base. It runs every 15 minutes (not every 10!) when the University is "on vacation" and every 7/8 minutes in term time. Other Transdev services were there, so why not the 44? Could it be, could it possibly be, that Transdev can't be bothered to produce anything for the vacation reduced-service period?

An alternative source of  "up front" help might be the selection of video screens available.
All three of these routes run to the main Uni Campus but because the technology reads the terminus name, and because nobody uses their brain, the screens only serve to confuse.

But there is heartening news for visitors arriving at York Rail Station; all they have to do is to cross the road to stop F where they can catch a service 44 to ...
... York Rail Station. Yippee!
fbb has reported on the uselessness of these signs before. Indeed the two screens for southbound travel have now become one, still with incomplete information; showing only two (or three?) of the thirty or so routes that call there. The incompleteness of information applies northbound as well ...
... with a screen for stop "D" being updated "live" and nothing else for the other stops.

But fbb decided to eschew the frequent routes to the main campus, repaired to Megabucks for a small (i.e. large) black coffee (i.e. Americano**) and gooey Belgian chocolate thing ...
... dripped a little drier and waited for the half-hourly service 14.

First's York web site re-appeared a few days later; but only after the fbb's had settled back at Seaton. It was "down" and "out" for about two weeks. Surely the internet's claim to usefulness relies on the ability of the technology to be updated at the drop of a hat? First's electronic headgear must have dropped very slowly indeed. fbb doesn't know how FirstBus manages their web sites (does anybody?) but the company doesn't manage them very well!
**Americano, the truth is told; c/o Megabucks web site:-

In Europe, coffee is essentially espresso which, in America, isn’t very much coffee. (it's not much anywhere else, either - fbb) To create a caffè americano, a coffee that satisfies the American preference for more sips in every cup, Europeans simply add hot water to their espresso. While the americano is similar in strength and taste to American-style brewed coffee, there are subtle differences achieved by pulling a fresh shot of espresso for the beverage base. (oh yes, really, I bet there are; so subtle you hardly notice them?- fbb)  The best way to discover these nuances, of course, is to try a cup yourself. (an excellent idea; especially for Megabucks profits - fbb) Whereas water is added to espresso after it’s been extracted in a caffè americano, a lungo, or long espresso, is made by passing more water (through the same dob of coffee beans? - fbb) in the espresso machine.

fbb's "Americano" came in a take-away cup so that he could return to the deluge and watch the omnibological world go by whilst cowering in a minimalistic less-then-sheltering shelter.
 Next Bus Blog : Wednesday 25th September 


  1. Another big company's website has the content managed locally, but is actually provided by a third party. And the central marketing police control what the content should look like. So when there's a technical problem, it has to be referred to the third party to solve. Surprise, surprise, they are mainly techies, not bus people, and the conversations are often misunderstood on both sides.

  2. I haven't been for a year or so but generally I have found York very good at publicity. The visitor centre near the Minster had what seems a full set of timetables, even including the smaller operators such as Reliance, and the Council sponsor/provide/have negotiated an all-operator all-day ticket within it's boundaries. Would that other councils were so proactive.