Thursday, 4 April 2019

B.Bus Baffles Both Blokes

Roger French, erstwhile boss of Brighton and Hove buses and now retired, to his first (and possibly his last!) trip on the B-Bus App controlled bus service from Luton Airport earlier this week. Unlike fbb he has tried out all of the current (and already closed!) "Uber-style" services and therefore has experience of such things.

fbb hasn't and doesn't.

Roger had read the four page article in the trade rag ...
... and the last comment might hint at his conclusions.

After some difficulties with technology in general and the App in particular he was told that his bus was on its way.
He had to find his way to "drop off zone F" which wasn't easy. B-Bus does not enter the airport's extensive bus station but did give him a map ...
... which seemed to take him a very long way round. But he was there by 1315 and he waited ...
... and waited. Fortunately he had one piece of information not available to "normal" App users. Via an "industry insider" contact he had a phone number for the company office.

There had, apparently, been a "computer glitch" and Roger's booking has not appeared on the system. (blog readers may come to other conclusions).
So just one hour and fifteen minutes late. It looked likely that Simon had been dispatched immediately from "central London" after Rogers call.

The bus had 19 seats of which 18 were empty ...
... and Roger had paid £7.99 - refunded before leaving Luton in view of the "computer glitch".

So fbb tried to download the App. After a diligent search in "Play Store" he found no sign of it and resorted to typing the the full URL given in Roger's booking "confirmation".

And there it was!
Then he had to "register". When fbb goes to Tesco, he hands over his pennies at the till and and takes his goods. If he didn't have an old crocks card, he could board a bus in Seaton, hand over money and travel to, say Sidmouth. In neither case would he be required to "register".

fbb has stopped using Rails of Sheffield on-line because they flatly refuse to taker his money unless he has "registered".

But because he wanted to enjoy the App experience (fat chance!) he did "register" but wore a false nose and a wig and used a fake email address.

This worked well.

First impressions were entirely discouraging.
fbb thought that's what he was trying to do, to schedule a ride - but it appeared that this meant there was nothing currently available and he must look for a later journey. A bit worrying considering that the article revealed that Taz had six buses in his fleet. Boy, this guy must be busy!

At approx 12 noon yesterday, the search was on for a "ride" "scheduled" later that day (i.e. Wednesday). The excessively fiddly day/date/time whatsit in the centre of the screen would offer no departures at all for later "today".
It wouldn't even "twiddle" past 1200. Ah, a computer glitch.

But planes were arriving all the time ... 
... and their eager low-cost passengers would be deprived of a low-cost travel opportunity to London.

fbb explored days and time further and came to this conclusion. The following departures were on offer for the next three days:-
This would suggest that these might be "scheduled" by the company, rather than created by the App - OR that there were several passengers making the same regular journey each day. And of course the company was "rushed off its wheels" at Friday lunchtime with 38 seats travelling close together.

But what your aged incompetent could not discover was how these "pre-set" journeys were calculated and what you might have to do to "schedule a ride" at a time reasonably close to when you might want to travel.

Maybe other more tech-savvy blog users can work it out.

If, eventually or in desperation, you "twiddled" to one of these apparently pre-set departures, you could move on and book your £7.99 worth of "ride".

For the information of intending passengers, please note that there are only two stops served in "Central London", namely ...
... Paddington and Bayswater. Type in any other location (as here with "Hyde Park") and you are exhorted to walk to the only two stops; so not quite "door to door".

The App map shows the "Bayswater" stop, if you are clever enough to work out how to reveal the detail.
It shows a stop used by Transport for London service 70!

Thanks are due to Roger for being brave enough to give it a try; fbb would be happy to publish accounts from any who have found the service successful and usable.

Comments from Roger's blog conclusion are appropriate.
Many thanks to Roger for inviting fbb to dip into his experiences.

And here is his closing photo ...
... with a web site on the back window. Go there are you may find a lap top version of the App which  shows ...
... more journeys than fbb could find on the phone version.

Baffling indeed!

And, talking of "Uber-style" Apps, tomorrow we go to Leicester.

 Next Lubbesthorpe blog : Friday 5th April 

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