Sunday, 10 September 2017

Going All Continental

Pedantically, the word "continent" is often misused - the British Isles are part of "The Continent", namely the Eurasian tectonic plate.
Despite this geological nicety, we tend to refer to that chunk of land across The Channel as "Continental".

While fbb was on holiday in Largs, he amused himself by purchasing a copy of "Continental Modeller", sister publication to the "Railway Modeller".
But before turning the magazine's pages, fbb needs to be personally "continental". Remember Captain Alberto Bertorelli from "Allo Allo", played by actor Gavin Richards.
His catchphrase, not as memorable as some, was "What a mistake-a to make-a!"

Now fbb doe not always get everything right; the old man always appreciates factual correction and tries to admit his failings. So here are two.

In a blog about Stagecoach bus services H and 5 in Exeter, your genial author boobed big-time. The thrust of the article was the confusing use of the district name "Cowley Bridge" which meant different things on different timetables. "Why," asked fbb, "does the new service 5 not show a time point for journeys diverted via the "estate" called Cowley Bridge as well as the traditional main road stop called Cowley Bridge?".
But the timetable does quote an "estate" time, shown as West Garth Road top.

What a mistake-a to make-a!

fbb apologises to his intelligent readers for this bludner. The mistake, however, does not alter the fact that Cowley Bridge means different things in different timetables - not the most helpful way of identifying stop locations.

The other bludner was more serious as it affected fbb's work for GoTimetable Sheffield. On the basis of rudimentary information supplied in advance of the September changes by the PTE, fbb guessed the route of new service 3A ...
... namely a "double run" to/from Sandstone Road.

fbb guessed wrong!

The map was soon corrected.
But the PTE timetable is unclear ...
... as is the First Bus timetable.
Note the meaningless line of blanks against a second "Sandstone Road".

The PTE hasn't yet got round to using its very expensive software to create a map. But, apart from GoTimetable,  there are two sources which might help a user find the real route of the new 3a. There is the PTE's "list of stopping places" ...

Nether Edge, Union Road, Osborne Road, Moncrieffe Road, Montgomery Road, Wostenholm Road, Sharrow, Washington Road, Cemetery Road, Boston Street, Sheffield, South Lane, Eyre Street, Arundel Gate, Waingate, Nursery Street, Pitsmoor, Rock Street, Nottingham Street, Pitsmoor Road, Firshill, Barnsley Road, Fir Vale, Firth Park, Hucklow Road, Bellhouse Road Shiregreen, Primrose Avenue, Bracken Road, Wincobank, Wincobank Avenue, Sandstone Road, Jenkin Road, Carbrook Meadowhall Road, Meadowhall, Interchange

... which is, as usual, pretty useless and almost impossible to follow. The places in RED are either WRONG or in the wrong place in the list.

The other, much more helpful source, is a route map buried in the First Bus web site.
These route maps are so much better than anything the PTE has ever produced, that they should be up front and linked directly to the appropriate timetable.

Needless to say, the GoTimetable Sheffield version of the actual timetable is the most helpful ...
... providing key times for the different route variations.

But thanks to fbb's mistake spotting acuity, this correction appeared four days after the new timetable started.

Understandable, but NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

fbb must try harder.
What a mistake-a to make-a!

And, talking of Continental; fbb has mentioned before the propensity of French bus operators to run to unfathomable frequencies with no truck with a fixed interval timetable.

How about his adorably unmemorable chunk of First South Yorkshire's new 41 timetable? Every 35, 36 or 30 minutes!
Senseless, unmemorable and designed to discourage passengers from using the service.
What a mistake-a to make-a!

We might get back to "Continental Modeller" in a later blog.

 Next Woolly blog : Monday 11th September 


  1. "a route map buried in the First Bus web site"

    I'm not sure buried is the right description, it's very easy to find -> Menu (1) -> Routes and Maps (2) -> Route Maps (3) -> Service 3/3a (4). Four clicks and there it is logically and easily located. Buried seems to be typical fbb hyperbole

  2. I'm rather surprised that you don't include the Registration document in your list of sources for timetable and map data.
    I know some (many) leave much to be desired in terms of completeness and I continue to be amazed at what Leeds will accept, but that you ignore them is strange. The public won't know how to access Registrations, nor should they, but app developers, apparently being paid, certainly should.

  3. There is no obvious route via the registrations web site to access the detail. If Anon above knows where it can be obtained, please contact fbb (

    The timetable and map information ought to be easily accessible via links from the "Notices and Proceedings" pages.

    Why, in this "open data" age, is this not provided?

  4. Re Anon again. "App developers, apparently being paid ..." - guffaw guffaw. When will that happen?

  5. Response to Ben. Maps should be linked direct to the appropriate timetable and NOT "buried" four clicks away. GoTimetable route diagrams are one click for the timetable page! Well done fbb and team!

  6. I agree having a link to the map alongside the timetable, would be an improvement, but still think it is ridiculous to describe them as buried away. They are not, they are still very easy to find.

    Whilst the GoTimetable teams efforts are admirable, I'm afraid as a user the site simply doesn't work for me. I like being able to download the maps and timetables as fist allow you so I can have this information with me. I like the clarity of First's maps. I like being able to see all of the timetable on one page, rather than the constant scrolling on GoTimetable. I like being able to navigate the website really easily (too often with GoTimetable I find myself unable to click out of a menu without clicking something else). I REALLY dislike clicking on a link only to find the page has 'junped' just after I've clicked on it so I end up on the wrong page (a constant gripe with GoTimetable and one that is getting worse).

    It's great if GoTimetable works for some, but for me all it offers is a worse version of information I can get elsewhere. Unfortunately I find FBB evangelical about his own creation, whilst being overly scathing about the offers from First, Traveling, Stagecoach or others. However my experience of using the websites is the opposite. Perhaps a case of horses for courses, but GoTimetable is not the best way for everyone and quite frankly for me it is unusable.

  7. Mendip Mule having afew problems with parked cars and residents.

  8. Again a response to Ben. GoTimetable is the ONLY place where all Sheffield timetables can be a found and are accurate representations of what the buses actually do. I don't understand Ben's comments about jumping but he should understand the this system is designed for off-line mobile phone use and there will always be compromises whn used on other platforms.

    As a challenge to Ben - find the times of buses to and from Skelton Lane at Woodhouse anywhere else.

    Don't bother - they aren't there - ANYWHERE.

  9. I have tried using the web version on my mobile (Android and iOS). I do not want to have to download a separate app. Not sure what is meant by off-line mobile phone use? If I'm offline I can't access the website?!

    What I mean by jumping is that, say I want to click on the timetable for service 25 - I scroll down to it find it on the list and click on it, but... after I click on it the yellow info bars giving service updates suddenly appear, meaning everything shifts down the list. So although I clicked on route 25 I get a different timetable load. Same things happen when ads pop up.

    Another irritant is if I click on the three dots icon to open the menu, there is no way to then close the menu and stay on that page.

    Tried your challenge, seemed to find the information easy enough on Google Maps, Traveline and the Stagecoach website, sorry guess I must be missing something...?

    I get that you are proud of GoTimetable, but honestly as a user it doesn't work for me. For me I find other sources of information easier to use, more user friendly and ultimately give me the information I want faster.

    Sorry that doesn't fit with your rhetoric of GoTimetable good Traveline/Google/Stagecoach/First/etc bad, but that's just not my real world experience. I appreciate others may have a different view. I just think it is unfortunate that you can't accept that for some (or at least me) GoTimetable is the weak link.