Bus working timetables - Groundhog Day all over again

Just as an illustration of the nonsense going on here…

Route 92 got new WTTs (SCN 51900) on 21st December when the temporary timetable (SCN 51899 dated 7th July) came to an end.

Since then, successive weeks have seen the TfL site links taking the unwary user to

51900
51899
51900
51899
51900
and (this week) 51899.

This is just one example of oscillation between current and obsolete WTTs. So how (apart from not very well) does the system identify which is the current version?

Michael

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It gets worse. Beggars belief but it is true…

So, corrected:- 3 12/N12 14/N14 15 18 N37 4 7 92 (yes, it is back to 51900 again) N148 183 186 216 281/N281 N307 343 345 391 406 697 698 E6 H10 H32 N18 N140 N155 N343 RB5 UL79 UL80.

New (or reintroduced) errors:- 7 8 23 25 28 42 49 65 66 78 93/N93 98 100 103 N105 109 111/N111 125 128/N128 135 165 170 174 205 248 252 256 277 N285 287 328 343 365/N365 372 375 404 415 424 427 496 499 663 C3 D3 D6 H12 K5 N7 N8 N25 N28 N97 N98 N109 N205 N242 N277 N551 UL2 UL3 UL7 UL40

The imbalance between corrections and new errors is far worse than those lists make it appear. Most of the first list are corrections of one or two “special” schedules. The second list is nearly all full sets of schedules. I have not checked thoroughly but it looks like most, possibly all of the schedules posted in the last few weeks have been overwritten with older material.

I am not going to waste time updating my spreadsheet with this long list of shame. Whatever I do or provide, nothing changes. Not for the better anyway. Can it really be this difficult?

Also worth noting that over 500 Christmas/New Year special timetables have been restored, having been deleted last week (I think they had been deleted and restored once before too).

Finally, there appear to be two (identical?) sets of links to WTTs in the Data Bucket this week. Both seem to work but they go to different destinations.

A very dispirited Michael

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Let’s hope that some of the £5 billion being spend on buses could help out TfL here?

This week’s update is much better. As far as I can see, pretty much everything that was wrong has been corrected. We even have H9 schedules loaded to match its sibling H10.

All sorted? Not quite! Obsolete schedules have overwritten current ones for routes 277 323 D6 D7 N277 and UL21. Most of these are repetitions of errors which had been corrected.

So, let’s see if next week sees these being corrected without new errors or resurrection of raves from the graves.

Michael

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Promising this week.

The good news is that there are no new errors this week. I also note that one oddity that was too unimportant to bother raising is not there this week - the overwriting of some existing files with files with the same name but slightly different sizes!

The return to the traditional update time - 11pm on a Monday - could also be a good sign.

Not entirely sorted though, as last week’'s new/reintroduced errors for 277 323 D6 D7 N277 and UL21 have not been corrected.

There are still two sets of WTTs in the data bucket - the new ones dated 24th and an old set (one of the worst as it happens) dated 10th but presumably very few use the data bucket directly as a source of links.

Michael

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Similar to last week. No new/reintroduced errors but the existing errors for errors for 277 323 D6 D7 N277 and UL21 have still not been corrected.

The second set dated 10th Feb is still there.

Michael

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As last week, in that new additions and deletions seem to be OK but the existing errors for 277 323 D6 D7 N277 and UL21 have still not been corrected.

Specifically:-
277 - SCN 52776 (27/7/19) is shown instead of 53706 (30/11/19)
323 - SCN 51007 (11/1/20) is shown instead of 53497 (25/1/20)
D6 - SCN 50806 (29/9/18) is shown instead of 53498 (30/11/19)
D7 - SCN 51381 (12/1/19) is shown instead of 53499 (30/11/19)
N277 - SCN 52547 (27/7/19) is shown instead of 53707 (26/1/20)
UL21 - SCN 46843 (30/4/17) is shown instead of 53568 (16/11/19)

UL21 illustrates a little wrinkle in the system. The 30/4/17 file is stored as SSu (Summer Sundays) while the 16/11/19 is sSu (special Sundays). I suspect that both are sSu.

A more recent example - the current files for UL51 and UL52 were loaded last week as SSu but the same files this week have been loaded as sSu. The files themselves say “Summer Saturday” but this is unlikely as they are dated 29th February and these files are often one-offs.

The use of sSa and SSa for different purposes causes problems to end users as not all software is case sensitive but it seems pretty clear from the above that the difference is not always observed properly when files are created.

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I guess the issue with the timetables, as they are, for the “UL” (Underground Line) is that they can be run any time, often with really short notice. If a tree blows onto a tube line, the replacement bus services can be triggered with no-notice. And, they may run until the end of the service day, or just until the problem is resolved.

This week’s upload has gone OK, though the incorrect WTTs that have been there for some weeks now have still not been corrected.

Brian - The UL services are generally for planned engineering work. Emergency services for unexpected problems just “happen” unless there is a schedule already on the stocks which can be followed (which might have been the case for the GOBLIN derailment).

Goodness only knows what is going to be operated over the coming months, whether due to staff sickness or collapsing demand, and the extent to which it can be planned. The phone apps based on Countdown will become incredibly helpful if substantial service gaps start to appear.

People involved in the IT and open data side may be off as well so I think users like me have to have some understanding if digital systems and uploads go awry. Keep well, folks.

Michael

The Mayor was on the BBC London News last night saying that he though they would be running a “Saturday Type Service”. It’s 9m 0s in. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000ghnk/bbc-london-evening-news-16032020

Purely an observation - definitely not a complaint given everything else that is going on - but the WTT update has not happened so far.

Michael

An observation again that the Working Timetables have not been updated this week either.

I understand that there are much more important priorities, like actually making sure services can run, also that the reality of what runs is unlikely to bear much resemblance to the normal working timetables.

It would however be useful to know whether the lack of an update is oversight or intentional, and in the latter case whether it is temporary until things settle down a bit or long term, that is until the crisis is over and services can return to normal.

Michael

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