Monday 16 March 2015

Unbelievable - a VERY Stupid Decision

Making Bus Information Worse
Over the last few years, users of Traveline's timetable search will have been mystified by the service's mangling of UK geography. Above, in Traveline South East, we have bus routes in Leicrster (East Midlands), Lichfield (West Midlands) and three 21s in the South West traveline region.

People who understand bus timetables will be well aware that Traveline is a poor tool; and a ridiculously expensive one to boot. The timetable index can be wrong ...
... as in 15 above. The data is over engineered based on an unnecessarily complex bus stop list called NaPTAN.
What is wrong with "Bristol Royal Infirmary" as a destination? Do we needed to stutter through "Bri, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol City Of"? Of course not; it's potty.

The algorithm that delivers the journey plans often produces answers that no sane bus traveller would ever contemplate. fbb has published many of these in the past.

Seaton to Branscombe
Just plain daft!

But Traveline is changing. It has gone National. The new front end at answers national enquiries. Oh yes!

Lets try one or two. [Enquiries made last Thursday in Seaton but checked again on Saturday in Newport IoW]

Bath to Winsley.
Back comes the answer ...
... buses (for example) direct at 0900 and 0930. But isn't there a road closure in the area?
Possibly; but you can't be sure, can you? Where are the signs?

And didn't fbb explain it all on March 2nd, the day it all started? TWO WEEKS AGO! See "Service 265, Simply Broke at Limpley Stoke" (read again). What is worse is that Traveline South West's regional site, although incorrect at first, is now showing the diverted 265 and shuttlebus correctly on their journey planner.
So "national" Traveline is not being updated properly. Inexcusable.

Now for the really bad news.

Correspondent Mr Aloysius Mole (may thanks, Al) has revealed a stunner.

The big bus groups are to open a national call centre to replace (?) the regional Traveline offices. This will save money, they claim. But, buses are essentially local transport; Traveline areas are far too large already and the above example already suggests that a national service is going to be of poor quality. fbb was given a hint that this was on the cards a couple of years ago but his informant did not have he full details; but now ...

It gets worse!

Exeter to Bude
Here is a journey from the national pages for the new 6A.
This is absolute tosh. The 1535 (top panel) is a through bus arriving in Bude at 1737.
So the new all-singing all-stupid national call centre will offer you a journey that is only one-and-a-half hours longer than it should be. Great!

But there is an alternative to the daft answer, which is revealed if you ask for, say, Axminster to Bude.
First Great Western (note, a train company) is running a bus from St David's station in Exeter to Bude. Oddly, it runs at the same time as the Stagecoach service 6 tabulated above. This direct competition must come as a big surprise to Stagecoach; it will be an even bigger surprise to First Great Western!

Utter tosh again! And this service started a modest THREE WEEKS AGO.

Let us review the situation.

The bus groups are setting up a national call centre
To give out local information
Based on an inherently flawed Traveline
Cobbled together to provide an even more flawed national Traveline.

And they will be charging us for the privilege.

The whole proposal is simply BEYOND BELIEF.

PLEASE Mr Fearnley, PLEASE Uncle Brian and PRETTY PLEASE to the bosses of National Express, GoAhead and Arriva, THINK WHAT YOU ARE DOING!

You are

 Making Bus Information Worse 

Newport Isle of Wight to Southampton
So much for connections with the ferry! Nuff said.

And so it goes on ...

... and on.
And another stupid decision ...

Farewell to an excellent bus station, used by all services but badly maintained and badly managed by Northampton Borough Council. Its too-small replacement is badly designed and badly managed by Northampton Borough Council and only a minority of services use it.

For a bit of background, blogged in 2011 well before plans for the useless Northgate were mooted, see "Bulldoze the Blighted Bus Station" (read again).

Of course, we now know that there is no developer for the Greyfriars bombsite.

Replacing Western Greyhound
But nothing obvious on-line at 1900 yesterday. Despite this, the twits were positive!
A revised 24 timetable (Fowey - St Autell - Mevagissey) with evening and Sunday service added ...

... (Sunday sadly headed wrongly) was all that fbb could find at 0700 thus morning. Pity. But we must not under-estimate the amount of work that has been done over the weekend. Most former Western Greyhound customers should be able to find a bus this morning.

fbb guesses that delays in publishing information are being caused by having an over-engineered national web site with limited local access or control. Perhaps a lesson to learn?

Back to the Traveline decision again!
 Next rail blog : Tuesday 17th March 


  1. Credit to travelinesw this morning as it has the correct replacement timetabels for WG with a banner headline directing users as to how to get them, However still has the timetables before even the last Western Greyhound for example some places are shown as hourly and not 3 hourly as they actually are which is not good. Why can't all the traveline sites adopt the travelinesw format instead of this new format as it may have numerous faults but it is the best of the bunch. Also will this site now be going too?

  2. Greyfriars demolition.
    Stagecoach Midlands website, 0830 Monday 16th -

    Disruption to all services

    Disrupted due to damage caused by the demolition of Grayfriars bus station.

    Last Updated: 16 March 2015 7:54 AM

    Due to damage caused by the demolition of Grayfriars bus station buses are unable to serve Lady’s Lane and Greyfriars Road. (sic)

    The following bus stops will not be used

    Police Station – routes 15, 16, 17 to Kingsthorpe

    BBC Radio Northampton Abington Square – routes 1, 2 , 4, 7 , 8 , 10, 16 17, X4, X46, X47

    Delays are expected to all services.

    Disruption expected to last until at least Wednesday morning

  3. "Farewell to an excellent bus station"

    Come on, fbb. It may have been the right size, but excellent?
    Perhaps the clouds of dust have got in your eyes.

  4. Had Greyfriars been properly maintained and equipped with better lighting it would STILL be an excellent bus station.

  5. Where is 'Leicrster'?

  6. My newspaper described it as the 'Mouth of Hell'. But I expect that Daily Mail journos rarely travel by bus and fail to appreciate the finer points of capacious interchanges !

    1. The "mouth of hell" soundbite was said by telepundit "expert" Kevin McCloud and has been repeated by every lazy journalist just copying what's on the web ever since.

      Definition of expert by Blaster Bates -
      from ex, a has been and
      spurt, a drip under pressure.

  7. You shouldn't be so negative about Traveline. A version without boundaries removes having to use different sites if you live on the boundary.

    Seaton to Branscombe. If you miss the 09:30 899 direct, it shows you the option of taking the 52A on the main road and meeting the 899 on its way back, rather than just wait until 11:50 for the next direct service. That's helpful in certain circumstances.

    Exeter to Bude. Stagecoach itself defines the 6 as 3 separate routes. Only on paper does it show the links. All the databases need a mechanism to show the connections between these "connected" routes.

    The Cornwall council updated its WG replacement table with all the typed timetables linked about 5pm on Sunday. First must have had a problem, but they were on Facebook about 10 pm. Around 7 am the First website timetables was actually showing all the new timetables and routes without any notice, although the Service update notice and pdf files came a bit later. There are a few mistakes, but the database does get updated. It is so much quicker than pieces of paper, a man in a van and having to go to the stop to find out. The phone in the old days would just be engaged all the time. First's priority was to organise buses, drivers, ticket machines, blinds, schedules ... so that something ran, before you worry about publishing something you can't deliver.

  8. I would be less negative about Traveline if it was properly managed and run by people who knew where the buses go. I would challenge Anon above to find me ANY passenger who would even consider going to Branscombe as shown in the blog. In technological theory, possibly. In reality, never. Very few bus passengers actually use the interwebnet for their information. My own surveys suggest less than 10%. What about the other 90%?

    1. Traveline data accuracy is very dependent upon the capabilities of the data co-ordinator. If you have one who 'understands' buses. then the datasets for the area tend to be spot on.

  9. They do apparently know about the problems with the Southampton - Cowes ferry data, they say they're onto it. Fingers crossed!

  10. Plus a single Traveline service for the whole country should mean that the best operators will push for the best implementation and that should mean a better service for everyone - in theory.

  11. I will reply to your 17:50 comments when the internet stops deleting my attempts.

  12. "My own surveys suggest less than 10%. What about the other 90%?" Out of a sample of how many?