Wednesday 27 August 2014

Cartographical Contemplations

Consistency isn't Considered!
fbb acknowledges information (and title!) from our
Bristol correspondent : with many thanks.
We know (from recent fbb blogs) that times they are a-changing for services to The University of the West of England [UWE] campi at Frenchay and Bower Ashton, Brizzle. It would appear that First have stepped in to compete vigorously with Rotala's Wesssex company. But this frenetic competition has just a hint of co-operation about it. See earlier bogs "Wessex may Grizzle with changes at Brizzle" episodes [1], [2] and [3]. Click on the episode number to re-read the blog.

We also know that First have route maps on each of their UWE service leaflets ...
... which combine simplicity, helpfulness and accuracy. On the other hand the Wessex Bus cartographical offering was ...
... complex, unhelpful and geographically ludicrous. Also, it did not include any of the "Wessex Red" routes designed specifically for UWE!

There have been developments.

First has produced a map showing all of their services that impinge on UWE sites. Mostly this is at Frenchay ...
... but it also includes the X2 and X3 ...
... which serve Bower Ashton Campus every 15 minutes on their way to Portishead. Wessex runs every 7/8 minutes from city to Bower Ashton!

fbb is uneasy about First's map style. The "names on roads" design has been a feature of London Transport's maps for years, but those names can be hard to read, and even harder when burdened with lines of multiple colours. This makes the area round UWE itself very muddled. Bearing in mind that there is, effectively, only one stop at the Frenchay Campus, a "simplified geographical" map, like those in the leaflets, would have been better.

Then there is the offering from Wessex!
It now includes both Wessex Bristol ("normal") buses and Wessex Red** (UWE buses) but retains the coarse diagrammatic style which is ...

... awful!

Now one might have thought that the promoters of better bus services to the Frenchay Campus, "The Only Way is Wessex" campaigners, might have pushed for one intergrated all-operator map for the University. Indeed, perhaps the Uni authorities could have commissioned one. fbb is ready and willing, for a fat fee!!

We could, in theory, turn to the Bristol Area network map for combined information ...
... but that excellent production has not yet been updated to show the revised services, so is utterly useless for Filton, Frenchay and UWE!

Yet again, First produce their own network map. Is it geographical, like those on the leaflets or the area creations as above? Of course not, don't be silly; that would be far too easy. No we have what purports to be a London Underground style diagram complete with all the disadvantages that concept brings to a bus network. Taking liberties with scale and geography might be OK for the sun-less and view-less bowels of our Capital, but it is not very helpful when you are peering anxiously out of the window of your bus!
As a useful guide to where buses go, it isn't.

But our ever helpful Bristol correspondent has been furnished (door to door) with an even more ludicrous piece of cartography; not, this time, for UWE, but for neighbouring Filton.

Travel West [TW] is the marketing arm of CUBA (Counties that Used to Be Avon; sadly not an official epithet!). TW is busily promoting bus travel with leaflet drops and a campaign entitled "What's Your Number?"
On-line it's not much of a campaign, merely directing enquiries to a variety of other data sources.

What's my number?
Not sure what bus you need to get to the cinema, the gym or the seaside? Or need to get a timetable so you know when to head to the bus stop?
Use Traveline's journey planner to explore the possibilities.

Where does my bus go?
Want to find out the route your bus takes, and when the next bus leaves?
Use our timetable checker to find out.

When will my bus arrive?
If you have a smart phone you can use our Buschecker app to get real time information and know exactly when your bus will arrive.

The leaflet is worthy of sniggering note ...
... and obviously trendy. It contains a generous offer ...
... with a list of all bus routes serving the area.
No timetables, not even a list of frequencies. The X74 starts "Sept 2014" but with no actual date; the potentially useful local 555 circular is shown with an incomplete route and, apparently, doesn't go to Parkway Station. Oh, yes it does! Oh, no it doesn't! Oh, yes it does! ... (etc.)

But the highlight (lowlight, so low it has almost vanished light!) is the map. Take a look at this.
Click on the above to enlarge.
You must really take it all in!

As our contributor says, "a six year old could do better!"

Now if Travel West really want to promote bus travel in the Filton area, then they should publish a multi-operator area timetable book with route diagrams for each service and a geographically near-accurate network map. Distribute this house-to-house with a page or two of special offers/vouchers and something good might happen.

fbb is, as ever, available to deliver!

If that is too expensive, too complicated, or too stressful then PLEASE DON'T BOTHER AT ALL!

 ** More on Wessex Red branding tomorrow  

 Next bus blog : Thursday 28th August 

1 comment:

  1. It was in fact UWE that wanted First to start commercial services, they invited First to design a network. UWE are looking for an alternative to their funded and directly managed services. Watch out Wessex Stars or is it Wessex or Wessex Red or Wessex Connect.......