Friday 15 September 2017

Late Leaflets : Problematic Presentation (1)

Earlier this eek, fbb received a bundle of leaflets** from John, a Sheffield correspondent. These were the leaflets that fbb had been called in to "help" First Bus. The old man's job was to take First's "working" timetables and prepare them for print. This involved attempting to reduce the space needed by using "repeat patterns". He was advised, nay ordered, to use the dreaded "approx" word.

Whilst it grates with fbb's desire to inform the public correctly, he obeyed his brief and did so where buses were so frequent that a few minutes either way would not bother the customer. The aim was to ensure that the approx was "safe" and it was only used when buses ran a few minutes later towards the end of the sequence.

In some cases, fbb remove clutter caused by occasional school services, but this policy was not always accepted.
fbb removed the excesses of the 718 and 18a journeys and showed them on a separate table. First, as you see, put them back. Well, they are the bosses! Does the 0653 from Meadowhall really run to High Storrs School in the holidays?

Another fbb innovation was to try to help where buses follow different routes not shown in the timetable. The First Bus on line effort does not really make it clear that 75s and 76s go alternate ways round a huge loop to serve the Shiregreen estate.
The leaflet version uses abbreviations and the traditional Sheffield descriptions of the routes.
BR - via Bellhouse Road; SA - via Sicey Avenue.

The route numbers are there at the top, squeezed out by a poor screenshot. A map could help, of course, and it is unfortunate that FWT's cartographic offering for the 75/6 shows the routes going the wrong way round the loop!
Bot maps seem a perennial problem, certainly for First South Yorkshire. These are all produced under contract by FWT, a good bunch of lads and lasses ...
FWT was founded in 1973 and since then has established a worldwide reputation for the provision of high quality passenger transport information. Our goal has always been to understand our clients’ problems and offer them wide ranging solutions that make their products the best.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” - Leonardo da Vinci.

We have always believed that providing information that is accurate and easy to use are the main factors that underpin any successful passenger transport information strategy.

But ...

It is clear that they do not have sufficient "local knowledge" to interpret what they are given, presumably the mandatory maps that accompany the service registrations. Maybe FWT receive inadequate briefing from their paymasters; maybe proof checking is inadequate, but things are not as they should be.

For example ...
... service 85 has been reduced from every 30 minutes to hourly, partly supported by a revision of the hourly 35. It has been extended to Thorpe Hesley (or Thorpe Helsey  whoops!). This is not just to nice to the residents of Thorpe Hesley whose service to Chapeltown and High Green has likewise been reduced. But it is some compensation.
The 85 map, however, will have none of such niceties. It shows the 85 as terminating at High Green The Fosters.
The Fosters, by the way, was a tower block demolished in 2011!
But there is another tricky question. Does the 85 really extend to Thorpe Hesley? Or do the buses become service 136 at High Green? fbb does not know, but has tried to help with his map on GoTimetable ...
... and a note with the heading.
The PTE (a k a Travel South Yorkshire) has some very expensive mapping software, but hasn't quite got round to using it; so no timetable map for the 85/136. The new network map, however, does imply that fbb is right.
And another question for the First Bus people.

Does the 97/98 serve Longley Hall estate (Longley Hall Road)? The PTE thinks it does ...
... fbb thinks it does ...
... but First?

But at least Southey Green is in the right place on the 97/98. It has moved half a mile for service 20.
It should be between Moonshine Lane and Adlington Road ...
... upper left NOT bottom Right.

But let us end this blog on a really positive note. First Bus also includes fares on most of its mini-leaflets; here is a part of the table for route 20.
The fare scale is coarse, of course, with nothing much under £2.50, but you can use it to estimate what you will have to pay fir a likely single journey.

It would be even better if the fare "stages" were shown on the maps and could be matched up with the time points on the timetable. Maybe a task for future editions?

When fbb visited the Sheffield team, it was clear that there was a genuine desire to get stuff out on time and thus be more encouraging to the potential passenger. But the "lead time" was far too short to do a good job.

Sadly we are still waiting for leaflets for any of the "joint" services.

So fbb has a couple of suggestions.

No bus service is to be registered until timetable and maps are ready to go to the printers.

Surely an organisation as huge as First Group could have a central map-drawing office? Such a scheme MUST be cheaper than trotting off to contractors. It took an inexpert fbb just four hours to modify maps for GoTimetable for this batch of changes using software out of the IT ark. He made a couple of mistakes, as already confessed in a previous blog, but these were corrected very quickly. 

Is it Sheffield, or City?

P.P.S. The revised 41 is never more frequent than nearly every 20 minutes, but actually runs at arbitrary non-repeating times all day Monday to Friday (20 minutes sometimes) and Saturday (30 minutes very rarely).

P.P.P.S. Buses run "up to" every 12 minutes on service 76 and ditto on service 75 but from Jordanthorpe, the latter not mentioned on the leaflet cover.

** The leaflet bundle should have included one for Service 51. It will be coming soon with the latest batch as foraged by publicity bloodhound John. The package will, fbb has been informed, contain a leaflet for the Stagecoach "presigious" and "promoted" Sheffield-2-Barnsley service - AT LAST.

 Next Medley of Miscellaneous Matters : Saturday 16th Sept 


  1. "Surely an organisation as huge as First Group could have a central map-drawing office?"
    Ah, but isn't one of fbb's gripes about non-local knowledge from contact centres miles from the actual location. While I agree with the sentiment it could perpetuate the same problems fbb regular tells us of.

  2. 85 and 136 are indeed linked. Quite a few of these changes were driven by an attempt to reduce dead mileage now Rorherham Garage has shut.

  3. 'But there is another tricky question. Does the 85 really extend to Thorpe Hesley? Or do the buses become service 136 at High Green? fbb does not know ...' I have seen a few 85s in Sheffield city centre since the changes, all showing High Green rather than Thorpe Hesley as their destination.

    SYPTE timetables clearly (!) show the 85 as Sheffield - High Green and the 136 as Rotherham - High Green. If buses actually run through and First want to encourage passengers to make journeys such as Sheffield to Thorpe Hesley, or presumably Grenoside to Rotherham, then they should have treated the two services as one and advertised it accordingly, using one number from end to end. Why complicate matters as they have?

  4. So, Wirst have some lovely leaflets. The little leaflet holders behind the driver are now occasionally holding leaflets! But for the wrong services. Yes lovely new leaflets on damp, smelly, dirty buses which on the Ecclesall Road corridor range from 1 year old to 15 years old. They can be branded for Rotherham, Sheffield, nothing or the X1. Let's have some consistency of presentation, reliability and drivers that have just an inkling of what customer service actually means - then great leaflets would be the cherry. Not the other way round.

  5. At least First's and TSY's maps show the route in context. Yours are just a random blue line which means nothing