Countdown not informed of closures


#1

This is more administrative than technical but who should be inputting route closures and diversions?

Hampstead Road from Mornington Crescent to Warren Street, routes 27,29,88,134 is currently completely blocked due to a burst water main on Tuesday 30/09/18 18:30. Four stops in each direction show normal services in Countdown despite having “Bus stop closed” bags over the posts!

On Tuesday evening, the buses were not even diverted and the drivers had no information until they left Camden Town, dumping their southbound passengers at Mornington Crescent (stop C) which already had a bag on so they had to walk 17 mins 0.8 miles to Gower Street (N) to get another 29.

If you look at Google Maps with “traffic” today, Saturday, Hampstead Road is still obviously closed - numerous no-entry signs - and yet if you ask for “Directions” by public transport from say Silverdale, it says catch a bus there, giving routes and times from TFL data.


#2

Here’s a very obvious example:

There’s a yellow “bus stop closed” sign visible on the timetable plate but the electronic display continues to display arrivals of buses that will not be stopping.

The two people in the shelter (I promise they weren’t accomplices) obviously weren’t aware of the stop closure, which is not surprising – the one place that MUST have information about closures is the electronic display which is where everybody looks. Certainly anybody approaching the bus shelter from the side where I took the photograph would see the electronic display and assume that services were running normally – there would be no reason to do otherwise.


#3

Bus apps on smartphones have a worse effect because a route will be planned with a walk to a closed stop while an open stop on the same bus route is the same distance from the start point and the walk to both much longer, wasting time and missing a train.
Hampstead Rd was a four-stop closure for at least four days with buses turning back at first (full destination shown on front) then a big diversion for four routes, some rejoining theirs after more closed stops. So, there were no buses “sailing past” there! Thousands were inconvenienced by tfl’s internal communication failure.


#4

I wonder if the current database system is CAPABLE of flagging up closures and diversions?

In another thread I wrote of the enormous folly of outsourcing, where a huge ransom must be paid for future alterations. The initial commission and the signing off after testing CANNOT foresee all eventualities, especially in the computer world where the decision-makers are invariably not experienced in IT.

I suspect TFL will have to set up a new database and separate API for this. The mobile apps, generally flexibly maintained by lovely small organisations, will soon be glad to use it to increase their efficiency. As for the Countdown Boards, TFL will have to commission specially shaped yellow bags to hide them!


#5

Not relevant in itself here and also very low tech but it is quite common for stops to have a hood and/or notice that they are closed during the periods shown. So the reverse can also happen - passengers think a stop is closed when it is not.

My understanding was that there is a closed stop flag on the system but it requires proper management of information flows to get it matching reality. I have also noticed that for some diversions new schedules are loaded to Datastore (and thus Countdown) for some they are not, and for some it is a mixture. An example of the latter was Islington last year. Perhaps Countdown at the affected stops just showed the routes that had not had amended files loaded.

Next Monday should provide an “interesting” test as several routes (12, 53 and 159 spring to mind) are being curtailed while Bridge Street in Westminster is closed. This is a major disruption but as far as I can see nothing has been loaded to Datastore (and thus Countdown). This is really shabby tretament of the passenger in my view.

It is as if everything but electronic has been discarded to save money and then the resource is not there to manage the electronic resource properly either.