Wednesday, 3 June 2015


On Paper; Excellent.
The leaflet for Arriva Leicester services 26, 27, 28, 29A and 29X is excellent. Firstly it has a first class multicoloured map ...
... leaving the user in no doubt as to what goes where. The 29A/29X timetable has a Monday to Saturday panel ...
... and a Sunday panel ...
... with little triangles to show the tediously slow journeys through to Burton-on-Trent.

Traveline confirms that the timetable is simple but separates 29A (Saturday shown here) ...
... and 29X.
Very straignhtforward.

On-Line, Laughable!
Go to the interwebnet, however and things are poor in the extreme. Arriva's web site has gone downhill since it ceased to be based on the same PDF files as the leaflets. So we have the following so-called PDF table (again for Saturday):-
This is followed by a "repeat pattern" ...
... until 1202; then another identical repeat pattern ...
... until 1402; then a third identical repeat pattern ... 1647, continuing until the 29X stops running at 1802.
It is utter nonsense and you would have to conclude that no-one at Arrive realises or cares that they have provided the public with pseudo-technological drivel.

But that pales into insignificance when you come to the map. Look at this presentation of the 29 and 29A on Arriva's cartographic computer-created ----up. (click on th map below to enlarge)
You may be wondering about that plumb straight line via an as-yet unbuilt guided busway. It is easily explained (?).

When buses arrive at a stop called Coalville Blackwood ...
... (which might be better called Greenhill Blackwood), they enter a time-warp worm hole and are transported directly to a vital stop called ...
... Coalville Electricity Sub Station, located ...
... in that clump of trees to the right of County Hall at Glenfield. Having collected its ghostly passengers, the 29A is then transported back through the wormhole to Greenhill. A bit like the Indian Rope Trick ...
... many have claimed to have seen the bus in flight but such reports are wholly unsubstantiated. Does it really happen?
It is the only explanation for Arriva's map.

At Bus Stops : Inadequate.
We are now used to departure lists and the associated timetable secrecy. The above illustration is inbound to Leicester from Groby. Here, possibly, a departure list might be adequate IF (and only if) a combined list of all five routes grouped together were posted. All buses follow the same route into the city. A note or colour code would be needed to warn passengers about the limited stoppiness of the 29X. There are, after all, six buses an hour Monday to Saturday daytimes.

But outward from Leicester, surely you need timetables for each separate route with a summary of all buses via Groby. A pair of scissors, some enlarged print-outs of the leaflet PDFs (with the unnecessary guff excised) and a pot of glue will do the trick. 

The debate had been rehearsed many times before in these blogs, but fbb has no doubt that an occasional or new passenger needs the confidence of a proper timetable at a bus stop. They need to know when they will get there and which way the bus goes.

 Final (really) 29 blog : Thursday 4th June 


  1. The reason for the strange map is simple (annoying but simple), it's largely outside the operators control and very difficult to spot in the normal course of working. Essentially when Leicestershire County Council remove a stop from the database the move the geo-location to County Hall, presumably to save themselves from creating new stops when they need them they can just adjust a 'dead' one, this results in maps created using this database showing routes racing across the county to County Hall and back. The problem is the council don't inform the operators of the change and because the stop still exists in the database no flags are raised about non-existent stops when these things are created. This generally means the first the operator knows of the problem is when someone like yourself raising a strange display on an interactive map or someone really delves into the vehicle tracking maps because of strange returns on the stats but that takes a bit of time to filter through (assuming the operations are checking the tracking data in a way that will pick it up).

    Doesn't make the reason any better from a passengers perspective but it is largely a fault of the council not realising the effect such a minor change may have, we have had a similar issue at my employers and when we asked for a list of the recent changes what we got was a spreadsheet of every stop in the county with no indication of any changes being involved.

  2. Annoying though the current Arriva web format is, one thing that has some benefit - if you can make it work - is that highlighting one journey on the timetable will create the map that applies to that journey alone. So it does make it relatively easy to understand how a non-standard journey varies from the norm.
    I also understand that there is a facility to attach PDFs in place of the system generated timetable, much as happens at Stagecoach.

  3. I agree with fbb - Arriva's online timetables are terrible. Please, Arriva, abandon the current format and revert to PDF versions of your excellent paper timetables. If I as an enthusiast struggle with them, how on earth do the general public manage?

  4. Try the new Abellio Surrey website. Gone are the perfect full timetables that were easy to download replaced by timetables with only certain timing points and a very wierd unusable on screen display. They do still have fare tables and route maps so that's a plus. Luckily Surrey County Council still have their excellent timetable pages with county bus map that show the full ti metables that Abellio don't show any more. Then again Abellio don't usually tend to run anywhere close to their timetables on the 557, 459 or 446 with 30-45 minute delays common so maybe their timetables aren't so important!

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