Wednesday, 13 January 2016

East Devon App-reciation ...

... from Traveline South West
Recently fbb penned (keyed?) a review of Phil Stockley's T M Travel app and was duly taken to tash for his lack of appreciation thereof; taken to take indeed by the app's daddy, one Phil Stockley himself! So cowed with guilt and repentance for getting it wrong (possibly?) fbb will retunr to that app in due course and have another go.

Suffice it to say, fbb wrote as he found. But his lack of enthusiasm was nothing to do with stunning technology and clever graphics, it was a suspicion that what such miracles of IT deliver is not what Joe Public really wants. Several weeks ago, one senior bus industry executive poured out his sorrowful heart to fbb in an email with the plaintive heading, "Why can't I have a timetable?"

Why indeed?

So here is the fbb review of Traveline South West's App.
There is it, between "Translate" and ""

Firstly, it may be labelled Traveline SW, but it is a cut down version of the relatively new "national" traveline web site. fbb proved this to his satisfaction by making "foreign" enquiries ...
... in this case a journey from the centre of Sheffield to his former pad.

And results came there a-plenty.
Delivery to screen was quick on fbb's in-house broadband, but once out in the real "Tesco" phone-world, it was much more clunky. So what you get is an expurgated Traveline journey planner delivering miniaturised journeys with all the faults of Traveline's bigger versions.

For example, the 120 at 23 minutes journey time didn't look right at all. The time from City to the chosen stop is about 30 minutes. You would need turbo power to do it in 23!
And there is the problem. Some 120s are correct at 30, some are incorrect at 23. fbb suspects that the superfast 120s are Stagecoach journeys which never run to Crimicar Lane during the day. They terminate at Ranmoor which is, indeed, about 23 minutes from City. 

The additional information, incidentally, tells us about New Year's Day services. Belatedly for an enquiry on 12th January.

Poor data management.

An enquiry in Northampton (where fbb was educated and nurtured) gives an equally daft option.
Why change at Weston Favell Centre when the 17 runs through into town? By changing you might get there a few fleeting seconds earlier, but no "normal" passenger is going to pay two fares and accept added risk when he/she can sit tight and go all the way.

But none of these problems are with the app; which delivers its answers as well as can be expected considering the way in which Traveline is set up.

What else does the technology offer?

Not a lot.
Cunningly hidden behind the app icon (top left) is a set of three square dots, offering extra options that are different from those delivered by the round dots top right. 

"Departures" does what it says on the screen; it calls up a departure list by time from any stop. I am sure that knowing that Seaton is 165 miles from somewhere is a useful facility but, at this precise moment, its value escapes the chubby one.
As all the times in the right hand column are exactly two minutes less than the timetabled time, fbb presumes that they are not "real"!

The same information is also displayed ...
... on a map ...
... but without "actual" (unreal?) departure times.

Trying to extricate himself from this screen was frustrating.
... because fbb didn't want to exit. But, cruelly, it wouldn't allow him to stay! In the end he had to exit and re-prod the app..

Conclusion (wary of opproprium from Traveline enthusiasts) : A perfectly usable mini Traveline service if all you want is a very simple journey plan, and if you have the knowledge to weed out the silly answers.

If you want a timetable, however ...
Thanks to an anonymous correspondent who sent this notice displayed recently by South Eastern Railway.
The last sentence is deserving of some kind of award!
Pour speling is uneckskusible. Actually the spelling is correct. It is the syntax and grammar that is, erm, weak!

 Next bus blog : Thursday 14th January 


  1. Is it possible that the Sea Front Gardens in Seaton were actually 165 metres from where you were standing when you made the screen shot?

  2. When I queried this on the T M Travel App I was told it was "m" for "miles" from my base. Not being metrificated in my head, I cannot cofirm or refute RC169s opinion.

    1. Point of order! What you queried on the TM app was "mi" not "m". "Mi" is a standard abbreviation for miles whereas "m" would indeed mean metres.

  3. Just checked. Little Billing (re the Northampton query) is 55m from somewhere! Very useful.

  4. The 136, of course, doesn't go to ANY of the places listed, and interesting to note that on the south eastern Twitter feed many people ask why at least some of the stations on the line could not be served... Including one suggestion of using the "kidbrooke crossover" to at least serve as far as there.....

    The answer, of course, is that in a money saving exercise notwork rail has removed all the crossovers that could have been used to provide a service to some of the stations, including the suggested kidbrooke crossover about two years ago!! Brilliant!

    ..And as for finding the timetable for the current bus replacement for 6 or more trains an hour...?? Good luck with THAT!! In order to try to depress demand for such a facility which is unlikely to be able to anything like cope with the proper number of passengers who would like to use it, you won't find any times or suggestions as to where to catch it anywhere!!

  5. Old man in hates technology shocker.