Wednesday 11 September 2019

Mayhem in Manchester (3)

Plenty of comments, as usual, in response to fbb's critical blog about the Transport for Manchester web site. Generally these comments fell into three categories:-

1. fbb shouldn't be using the TfGM site ; instead use [fill in alternatives].

2. fbb is making a mountain out of a molehill; it's quite straightforward.

3. it's just the usual critical stuff from fbb.

The trouble with most of the comments is that they are clearly from people who know what they are looking for and/or are hardened users of the various sources of information.

Point 3 is quite correct; but derives its approach from Points 1 and 2. To cover something of these, and by pure co-incidence, it happens that No 3 son read his dad's blog (he is a glutton for punishment) as he was seeking information for a visit to Manchester.

In November he will jet in to Manchester Airport from Basel. He is on his way to join long-time chum Tim for Tim's 40th Birthday knees-up. It takes place, as all knees-ups should, at Glossop. So No 3 wisely decided that getting to the wilds of Glossop from a 2210 arrival (very -ish, it's a plane!) might be beyond sensible.

He is right. It can be done but would be very risky. The last through path leaves at 2249 ...
... with nothing, then, until the following morning.
He has booked into a hotel and begins an on-line conversation as follows:-
A bit more by way of explanations follows.
So immediately a comprehension problem - you have to know that "the tram" and "Metrolink" are one and the same.

An evasive and non-committal reply from fbb also asked again about the hotel.
And you can't get to Premier Inn Printworks via TfGm's site either.
Only in Chester!

No other Premier Inns are available, apparently.

There are loadsa Premier Inns in Manchester but the one chosen was clearly listed ...
... and is spottable on Google Streetview.
It's even clearer on Google Earth where the address "North Tower" is revealed as being very apposite!
And the hotel is not far from Manchester Victoria Station.

Leave from the "old" exit ...
... then left down Hunts Bank (you can do no other).
At the bottom, swivel left and you might spot the hotel ahead of you.
At night, which is when the boy will arrive, the purple sign may well be illuminated. A right fork just along the road takess you under a bridge ...
... and you are there. The bridge did not carry a train but was the approach road to Manchester Exchange Station, alas no more.
But the ramp is still there and can just about be spotted on the Streetview view.
The cathedral has not been replaced with a new block of offices; when Streetview went past, the tower was undergoing a significant up-fettling!

Somehow the soul-less block that replaced the old station is so much poorer architecturally and socially.
But No 3 son knows nothing of this - well, he will if he reads this blog.

Meanwhile, he is still (virtually) at Manchester Airport and (in reality) baffled by the "bonkers bad" TfGM web site. More to reveal tomorrow.

An Appeal For Help
The GoTimetable Sheffield  App and web site ( is not "officially" supported by First Bus and Stagecoach (apparently a "Partnership" policy???) although they are very willing to supply information in good time and, thankfully, very happy to answer fbb's detailed queries.

Travel South Yorkshire refuses to engage in any way being "very satisfied" with what they provide and promising "improvements" in their information services in the future. (Over five years there have been none!)

Every year on behalf of the tireless fbb team, fbb seeks some publicity. This year a simple flyer is being printed.
A PDF version will be available tomorrow to download and print out.

It will be passed round "on line" but GoTimetable is seeking "helpful" places and people that will be prepared to post a copy in the window (shops near busy bus stops), or have a bundle on or near the counter.

If any blog readers can help please get in touch via

fbb will be in Sheffield Sunday 15th thru' Tuesday 17th (leaving 1030 Wednesday morning) and will have a wad with him. Otherwise post can be used!

Please remember that, apart from a dripple of pennies (literally) from the inevitable adverts, fbb and "the team" earn no income fro  GoTimetable - it is, quite literally, a Labour of Love.

Thanks muchly!

 Next Manchester blog : Thursday 12th September 


  1. I've never been to Manchester and today is the first time I've used the TfGM journey planner, so I'm certainly not a "hardened user".

    But, no "mayhem" and nothing "bonkers bad" for me -> journey planner: from Airport -> to M3 5AS (postcode for hotel) -> select date -> leaving after 23:00.

    Seems to give me what I need.

    Yes the website's certainly not perfect and yes there are some quirks, but its doesn't seem the abomination FBB presents. Not sure why my experience is so different to the tubby-blogger, other than I'm not looking for problems?

    But whatever the issue with TfGM website, or any other journey planner, timetable library, etc - please, please GoTimetable is NOT the answer. I've tried it and for a labour of love/hobby its impressive enough, but in my humble opinion as a genuine alternative to existing websites it really is not that good. Perversely I find it only for "people who know what they are looking for and/or are hardened users"!

  2. FBB does, despite protestations to the contrary, have a tendency to start from a position that requires knowledge to reach and then act as if he has no knowledge to find fault - which he inevitably can at that point. This doesn't negate the point that most of the PTE websites are fairly poor if you don't want to use the Journey Planner, with all the issues that are inherent in such systems, but that the TfGM one is at the bottom of that list (typifying their woeful attitude to commercial buses in general).

  3. As a PS to my post above. I'm an infrequent and therefore nervous/cautious user of public transport. I usually use journey planners as a "quick and dirty" tool to find my broad options - I find them really helpful for finding what routes/lines/modes I might use to get between two places in an unfamiliar town/city and then use this information to look for actual maps/timetables to plan my precise route for myself. I usually look for these timetables, etc via Google not- sure if FBB has heard if it ;)

  4. I do agree that timetables can be hard to find, or at least aren't where you expect them to be. For instance, TfW Wales has four main headings on its website: Tickets & Savings, Travel Updates, Where We Go and Planning Your Journey. You'd expect timetables to be in that last category, I'd have thought - but they're under Travel Updates. In mitigation, they do come up straightaway if you enter Timetables into the Search facility.

  5. Cardiff Bus is, I would say, a model of how to do things. From the home page one can easily navigate to either "Plan your journey" or "Routes and maps". Going to the latter you are presented (on the left of the pasge) buttons to each route and (on the right) buttons to network maps. Pressing the button for a route gives you a detailed map showing all stops and a timetable showing principal stops (easily expandable to show all times at every stop). pdf timetables are also available. You should take a look at it fbb, I think you'd be pleased! Of course what it doesn't show are other operators' routes, of which there are some, Stagecoach and NAT in particular.

  6. Just had a look at GoTimetable and the index is a complete jumble. I'd also have little confidence in the timetables as they lack even basic data like a to/from via header. It looks to me very much like an incomplete first draft which escaped into the wild.
    Sorry FBB, but GoTimetable is far from the answer.