Thursday, 18 April 2019

Passengers for Pill, Portway and Portishead (2)

How to Confuse Potential Passengers
Readers may have gathered from yesterdays blog that the timetables for the Excel group of services from Bristol to North Somerset are changing on Sunday 28th April. Also in that blog, fbb prepared his readers by revealing that ALL buses to Portishead (now X3, X3A and X4) continue without exception to a loop via Redcliffe Bay.
Or so the old man thought. But a glance at the First Bus on-line timetable suggests otherwise.
NOTHING is shown as running to Redcliffe Bay; and the Nightingale Rise time point for the X4 likewise has no journeys at all.

Actually that is not quite true. The "Rise" does have an sporadic evening service.
But whilst you may not be able to get TO Nightingale Rise for most of the day ...
 ... at least you can get FROM that desirable location. Incidentally, the side road near the stop is not Nightingale Rise ...
... which is further away along Weatherly Drive, the main road. Perhaps Nightingale Rise is a generic name for the estate.
But still not a peep about Redcliffe Bay.

Of course it is a badly shown loop - yet again.

If you know where to look (under "Route Maps", obviously) the current leaflet timetable does at least show all journeys as running round the loop. But fbb guesses no "normal" enquirer would find it. But still not a peep about Redcliffe Bay itself.
If it is any consolation, Traveline's "summary" timetable gets it equally wrong outbound ...
 ... and has times thrice at Combe Road inbound with no explanation.
Needless to say this generates drivel in the journey planner.
It cannot find ANY through buses (except, presumably those few evening journeys), and offers various options with a change.
You can change from X3 or X4 to X5 at Combe Road ...
... or, even dafter, you can take an X3 to Sainsburys (map, right) and WALK to Combe Road (map left).
Traveline thinks "Combe" is spelt with two letters "o". It isn't.
From Combe Road you catch the same X3, fifteen minutes later; it has trundled around via the Marina while you have your stroll.

First's own journey planner shows the same, of course, and is just as daft!
You do wonder how much business First loses when people get stupid and inconvenient answers from the badly managed technology.

What happens if you telephone Traveline? Will the operators have the common sense to realise the journey planner is potty? Anyone out there want to try? fbb couldn't be bothered!

The answer is pitifully simple. Just show the loop FOR ALL JOURNEYS at the end of the outwards timetable and at the beginning of the inbound set of times.

Please remit the standard lavish consultancy fee to fbb at the usual address.

But It Gets Worse!
Inspired by the poor results, your eager investigator set about collating all the various bits of publicity available for the X3/X3A/X4 group of routes. He was checking for common sense consistency, necessary to reduce confusion and inspire confidence for any prospective non-regular passenger.

You've guessed it. Total information does neither!

The investigation continues tomorrow.

Another Airline Dies - Possibly
On the company web site, the Chief Executive explains, no doubt with a tear in his eye.
World-wide experience suggests that "temporary" will become " permanent"


 Next North Somerset Blog : Friday 19th April 

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Thursday - A Day Of Answers?
Tomorrow (Good Friday) we remember Jesus' Crucifixion - "Good" being an odd but correct word for a cruel kangaroo-court execution. "Correct" takes us back to the previous evening.

On one minor point, however, we need to remember that, at the time of Jesus, "Friday" started at sunset on Thursday so the most important festival of Judaism, the Passover, actually began at about 1800 on the day before.

Go back about 1200 years before Jesus and God's chosen people were enslaved in Egypt. They cried out to God for release and a Jewish lad, co-incidentally (?) brought up in the Egyptian court, was "called by God" to lead the people to the "Promised Land."
After the mother of all battles between God and the god-king (Pharaoh), the last plague was announced, namely the death of the youngest child and animal.

To protect themselves, God's people were told to paint the blood of a spotless sacrificed lamb on their doorways ...
... so the "Angel of Death" would pass over their houses. They were also to prepare bread without yeast (flatbread) for the early stages of their journey.

The Pharoah relented and the slaves left. The blood of the passover lamb brought freedom from slavery.

So Jesus meets with his disciple for a Passover Meal (technically the "passover eve" meal or "meal of preparation").
It was what thousands of Jewish families would have been doing at the same time.

But it suddenly became different.
We can now begin to join the dots that make up the purpose of Jesus's death.
There was a lot for the disciples to take in - and they didn't do very well - but the pre-ordained plan yet has three days to run.

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  1. Traveline is only as good as the data supplied to it by operators. Operators public facing data is only as good as that in the Traveline API’s that most use whether directly or through third party developers.

    1. And there in lies the problem. The quality of data in Traveline has plummeted in recent years and there doesn't seem to be any motivation to fix it.

    2. This is a bizarre situation when so many apps and websites use the Traveline data as the very data upon which they function.

  2. Is the problem with loop services that the data used in public-facing journey planners the same as that supplied as registrations to the Traffic Commissioner? If this showed all the loop stops as being served both at the end of one direction and the beginning of the other, the TC monitors, who monitor compliance with registered timetables, would be looking for two buses where only one exists and would record a 50% failure.

  3. I tried my normal journey planner travelinesoutheast and it works as expected for non-loop service data. On all journeys you have to change from Bristol at Coombe road stop A (on Combe Road) (note spellings) and catch the next departure on X3/X4/X5. What is on the bus destination display? A non local would arrive 15 mins early, unless they followed the computer and got off and waited. Most passengers are local and know what happens.

    The timetable could be given as Bristol to Bristol, but then it is hard to find the Portishead routes at all. If Redcliff Bay had a timing point it would help, but that has operational consequences. There is a generic issue to be solved with loop terminals, particularly as here the timing point is not on the loop.

    As always if you are doing it for real, there are real people to ask.

  4. There's no problem with loop services being shown on registrations, the TC's staff and the monitoring staff are clued up enough to know what they're looking at and wouldn't be looking for two buses at the same time.
    There's no problem in showing loops in both directions on Traveline for timetable look up or maps but it can occasionally confuse the journey planner when there are what looks to be two departures at the same time on the loop, with one going further than the other. It's usually better to use the guaranteed connection function in the software. This is a simple operaton that connects the journeys at the specific arrival/departure stop and effectively suppresses the journey planners attempts to tell you to get off and wait for another bus. It does help if the operator mentions the connections on the registration but it looks from the timetable snippets shown that outbound X4 returns as X4 etc. which is easy to set up. If they were returning as a different number there would be a lot of combinations to create.
    It really needs an additional time point between Combe Road (A) and Combe Road (B) as it is obvious (if only to the local passengers)from the 18 minutes running time that buses are going round a loop.
    Whilst First on line timetables are managed internally, their journey planner is simply a filtered (to remove non First responses)portal to Traveline South West's journey planner.
    Ken Traveline South West (Dorset)