Friday, 3 June 2022

Jubilee Bank Holiday Takes Bus Operators by Surprise!

Someone at Stagecoach knew about the Jubilee then...

The public holidays granted for the celebration of the Queen's platinum jubilee on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd June seem to have come as a surprise to our local bus companies, at least as far as timetable information is concerned.

We are constantly told that there is no need for old-fashioned paper timetables these days because "It's all Online". And yes, there is a lot of timetable information available over the internet and many people do use it as their first port of call for finding bus times, but anyone doing that yesterday or today (Friday) would be in for a shock. 

 As usual, a Sunday service is operating as it does on most public holidays, but what would anyone making an online enquiry for travel today find? 

 The Journey Planner on Stagecoach's website and on their app is showing times as if a normal Friday service was operating! 

Traveline, which draws its information from the same database, is unsurprisingly returning the same erroneous information. 

 Lancashire County Council's website doesn't have its own journey planner and links instead to Traveline (see above) 

 The increasingly useful site Bus Times website also relies on either bus operators or local authorities for its data, but is a little more circumspect. Like Traveline, it has been tricked by the incorrect data coming from the bus companies into showing today's times as they would be on a normal Friday, but it does at least realise that they might be wrong and has placed this notice on all its timnetable pages.

But a big shout out  to Google!  The bus stop departure information and the journey planner on Google Maps is, as far as we can see, the ONLY website showing correctly that a Sunday service is operating.  We know which JP we will be using in future!

And what of the passenger who just turns up at the bus station and looks at the information there?

Surely the electronic departure board that, unlike old fashioned paper leaflets, can be readily updated when things change, will be up-to-date and correct?  Well, judge for yourself. Here is the board at 10.45 this morning:

The only Stagecoach service shown is the 555 and that is showing normal Friday times. The other services are all operated by Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire and NONE of them are running today. In fact, the 582 at 11.45, together with all the other 582s hasn't run since the end of March when the service was withdrawn. Conversely, two KLCH services that are running - the 81 and 82 to Kirkby Lonsdale are missing from the display.

The last time we looked at the figures, bus passengers were still at only 80% of the pre-pandemic levels and with all government emergency funding due to end in a few months time there is a desperate need for the industry to attract those missing passengers back.

Providing misleading advertising of the services on offer for two days is not the way to do it.