Friday, 13 November 2015

Sheffield First Hand : At The Bus Stop

The Star (Sheffield evening paper)
Yesterday's front page and leading article
Amen to both!
There are Times When you Despair!
Travel South Yorkshire [TSY] is a "brand" used by the PTE (Passenger Transport Executive) for delivering information to the public. The PTE provide all bus stop information; all information at Interchanges; an idiotically ordered on-line set of timetables (for download) and, since March 2015, not a single sheet of printed anything.

Did you know that whilst you are out and about you can view live departure information for your local bus or tram service? Travel South Yorkshire offers live departure displays at some stops around South Yorkshire.

fbb has written before about the variable quality of this stuff and here is an example. We are at the service 75 and 76 stop on Arundel Gate.
At 1605 a 75 is " Due ". Quite what this means is unclear; according to the timetable the 75 is " Due " at 1603. But at 1606 ...
... the bus has vanished from the screen. Then at 1608 ...
... the 75  " Due " at 1605 (but timetabled for 1603)  duly  arrives.

At 1613 a 76 is  " Due " ... 
... and then it disappears from the screen. Only then, at 1614, does the bus turn up.
The timetable says it is  " Due " at 1609. 

Simple question. What does  " Due " actually mean? Answers, please from TSY.

But the PTE has to be congratulated on posting information about the November 1st changes available (mostly) from day 1. It would be even better if it was right!

Here, for example, is the departure list for Stagecoach service 88; it is located at the city terminus stop on Snig Hill.
The heading tells us that the 88 runs to Banner Cross.

The buses terminate at Bents Green aoproximately 1 mile beyond Banner Cross.

Or we could go to the Jordanthorpe terminus of Stagecoach service 1.
Here we are told that five buses run to Meadowhead Dyche Lane.
In fact there are another 56 journeys ...
... all of these, which go to Meadowhead Dyche Lane; although the heading says they don't.


Or come with fbb to Dore.
You want to go into town on Saturday to do a bit of shopping and you glance at the timetable for service 81.
Nothing between 0906 and 1816? Surely the "partnership" promised a 20 minute service?

Indeed they did. But what they didn't tell you ...
... on their map, or in the pre-change publicity, is that, on Saturday, most of the 81s into Sheffield are 82s!
The "16  36  56", by the way, is the repeat pattern from the 20 minute service on route 82. So in the timetable frame at the stop you have to look at the 81 times (which you are expecting but which are useless) then the 82 times (about which you have had no hint)

Of course you may well have prised a First Bus printed leaflet out of the Interchange - there were, nay are, none available in Dore. You might enthusiastically espouse the improved 20 minute frequency and seek to travel on a Monday to Friday. Oh foolish one! You could then read this helpful panel on First's printed leaflet ...
... before trying to guess what times the buses are.


But the prize for the daftest and most useless departure list at any bus stop in Sheffield must be awarded here.
From this salubrious spot, just north of the A57 roundabout on Prince of Wales Road, service 18 and 18A provide a joint half hourly service to Meadowhell, the service fbb was catching. Also stopping here is service 6 offering two buses an hour into Sheffield Centre.
It wiggles  in pink  but, honest, it does go to City. fbb has ridden on it and, on this side of the city centre, it hasn't really changed.

So what does TSY's bus stop say?
It says (and yes, it is beyond belief!) that the 30 minute daytime frequency takes you just 3 minutes along the road to Littledale; and that is as far as it goes. There are no buses into the city. And, in case you wondered, it definitely is the "correct" timetable for that frame.

If you want to go to City you have to wait until 1914 to catch the evening service 6A.

It is hard to contemplate the mentality of someone who could post all these howlers; and they are but a small selection from many dozens noted by fbb on his recent travels.

One thing is certain; were the perpetrators football managers ...
... or rugby coaches ...
... they would have been sacked long ago.

And don't start fbb on about "spider" diagrams. More about them next week.
The 88 only runs to Banner Cross on this, as well.


In conclusion fbb should stress that (apart from the First farcical Dore leaflet) all these TSY stupidities are nothing to do with the "partnership". Production of tosh is, and always has been, a feature of the PTE's publicity "system" (for want of a better word).

It was just over three years ago that fbb was summoned to the headmaster's study as a result of similar blogs. See "Partnership Proposals Promulgated [1]" (read again). Note that the then director was adamant that, via the "partnership", all these problems would be resolved.


Combine PTE incompetence with a badly managed, badly conceived and badly publicised network change and it is no wonder that the good folk of Sheffield are just a tad miffed.

 Next 'take a break from Sheffield' blog : Sat 14th Nov 


  1. Those screens look like they should be real-time screens (they are showing minutes to go rather than times due) in which case due should mean the bus is less than a minute away according to the estimated running time from where it currently is (it can take longer if it is caught by traffic lights or other hold-up). Why the due disappears before the bus actually arrives at the stop rather than as it pulls away is another question, the obvious suggestion would be that someone has set the stop location in slightly the wrong place on the road so the system thinks the bus has passed the stop before it has actually arrived. You would have thought someone would have noticed by now as it impacts on reliability stats so clearly someone is either not paying attention or not correcting an error when it is raised.

  2. It is quite simple really. The screens have nothing to do with Real Time Information. They are simply an electronic representation of the timetable. Thus "due" refers to the next scheduled arrival relative to the clock. Once the clock ticks forward that bus disappears from the display and the countdown to the next scheduled departure is shown.
    We have the same system at some stops in Merseyside. you quickly learn to ignore it!

    1. Standard practice is that if the RTI screens show times (i.e: 16:21 or 07:21) then it is just showing scheduled times and bears no relation to what is actually happening. If the screens show minutes (i.e: 5-mins) then this indicates the system is running off the tracking system. If there is anywhere not following this convention then they are clearly being unhelpful & very customer unfriendly as it makes it very difficult for waiting passengers to trust it. If they use the different formats for different sources, especially if like Nottingham they explain the difference on a panel on the bus stop, then customers have a chance of being sure what can be trusted as 'real' and what is simply possibly useful information.

  3. From my experience, I'm inclined to agree with Dwarfer 1979. If, as Prescotian suggests, it is scheduled information, then surely the intervals between routes would be more uniform?

    I'm also aware that it is common for the information to arrive from different systems (which may also be affected by operator and ticket machine e.g. some poll every 30 seconds, others only once a minute or longer) and consolidation can also impact on the results. However, it is more common for something still to be showing when a bus has already gone past, rather than the situation here where the information disappears before the bus has arrived (and there are railway systems that exhibit similar problems too). Perhaps this should be regarded as a right-side failure?

    1. We have similar "live"running screens in Woking which also go to due then the bus vanishes but occasionally a bus has a working transponder and or really does work but it's pot luck.

  4. The latest PTE 'consultation' (sic) is canvassing the idea, amongst others, that the whole RTI system in Sheffield should be abandoned.

    A particularly daft example, until the 1 Nov changes, was the outbound from City stop at the Hallamshire Hospital, where approximately half the buses on the screen ran to................Hallamshire Hosputal, actually the turning circle about 80 ft away. To compound confusion 120s which went off service at Fulwood terminus are shown as Hallamshire Road'. You couldn't make it up.

  5. For some reason the makers of real time systems are deadly afraid of putting 'Delayed' on the screens. So it's not even an option.