Friday 4 April 2014

Wenzit Goh - not Interested in Maps?

TfL (Transport for London) service 405 is a bit of an oddity. Originally a London Transport country (Green Bus) route, it joined the red network in 2001 despite burrowing deep into darkest Surrey.
Conceptually the route follows the "old" A23 although the original road is much rebuilt and completely by-passed at Croydon and Coulsdon. At the Redhill end, through traffic is routed via the M23 and on to glorious Gatwick and beautiful Brighton whilst the 405 takes the A23.
One other deviation from the A23 line of route came in 2003 when the service was diverted off the main Brighton Road via Pampisford Road in Croydon ...
... where it joined service 455.
So, how is the journey that fbb was asked to investigate communicated geograhically on-line or even in hard copy?

Don't start with Traveline! Although the timetable on this service was one of the best, the maps are disappointing. There are two. Without extra clicks this style is unhelpful ...
... you have to enlarge (tediously) and know that the blue square (coded incomprehensibly "entrance" in the rubric) is the station ...
... and the red dots are stops nominally at "The Feathers". At least you know you are in Merstham! Whereas on the map labelled "PDF" ...
... Merstham is not mentioned. TfL's offering is better ...

... and again is enhanced with an extra click or two. There is also a seemingly pointless straight line diagram burdened with an LT roundel at each stop ...
... which, erroneously, implies that the bus stops at the station; which it doesn't.

Surrey offers two local maps in TfL style (click to enlarge) ...
... and a county-wide network map which, by definition lacks detail for local decision making.
It also has one conceptual flaw. The "white box" at Redhill only shows services which terminate here leaving the occasional innocent visitor to wonder whether services 430 and 435, for example, actually call at the bus station. They do!

Sadly the 405 falls off the bottom of the Mike Harris London Bus Map, leaving Merstham and Redhill to bathe blithely in the bucolic beauty of Surrey.
Pity, 'cos it's probably the best of the lot.

Clearly, different maps serve different purposes and help people with different needs. Longer distance passengers may be happy with less detail as they plan town to town journeys; whereas local travellers may hope to see all stops tidily presented. But over the span of these four blogs we have experienced four quite different timetable presentations and eight assorted map versions.

fbb believes that the bus industry needs to take a lead in creating a national database of timetables in a standard style; it happened with the National Bus Company in the 60s. At the same time a series of national bus maps is desperately needed so that intending passengers can understand scales and styles wherever they may be in the UK. The present "mixed bag" delivers mixed messages and demands considerable skill and research on the part of the potential customer. Very few use what is currently available on-line (as a percentage of total bus ridership), even allowing for a statistical bias in favour of regular travellers who know where they are going anyway.

School report : could do better!

 Next bridge blog : Saturday 5th April 

1 comment:

  1. And, another thing. TfL's road designers could do with a bit of public transport knowledge too. The A23 takes a bypass around Coulsdon, opened just a few years ago. It enjoys a bus lane along its entire length. There are no bus stops along this bus lane. I wonder why?

    Because any of your readers will instantly respond that buses like to serve town centres, rather than use the bypass. Yes, there are no bus routes along the bypass to use the spiffing bus lane. Oh dear! More expenditure on unwanted road width and expensive red tarmac.

    If only somebody had told somebody. Mike Harris correctly shows it as a non-bus grey road on his map.