New style bus WTTs

This week’s bus WTT PDF upload is basically in a new style. Not entirely as there are some old style PDFs, which I think are probably redundant.

First thing to note is that the files for route 353 are corrupt.

As no test file or documentation was made available to outside users (though I suspect the ones accidentally released some months ago are in the same format), I am having to struggle with this as I go along. What differences have I found so far?

FILE TITLE - The Title field, visible and programatically accessible as an extended property under PDF Information (if you have the right software), is now left blank. In order to distinguish successive editions and quickly identify new files I will have to construct something from the info within the file. I think I can do this with a Powershell script but it is a pain.

SERVICE CHANGE - Much more comprehensive information, which is useful.

DAY TYPES - Specials now seem to be denoted by spSa etc rather than sSa. This is a good change as it eliminates the confusion on case insensitive systems with SSa. The first line of the file still uses sSa though!

SERVICE CHANGE - OPTION/VERSION - The previous setup included both of these. Version was most commonly used and could indicate a minor revision or correction. Option was rarer but did vary sometimes. The new setup only has option so how will what would have been versions be dealt with?

PAGE HEADERS AND FOOTERS - No longer present. The header was related to the file title/name. The footer was “Page 3 of 7” or similar.

TRANSIT NODE FOR TIMING POINTS - This now has 5 rather than 4 characters. It is possible that this is the old code prefixed by the latter A (based on looking at a couple of files). No idea why the change has been made.

ORDERING OF PAGES - For the actual times, pages for direction 1 follow each other, then all pages for direction 2. Previously they alternated.

CODES FOR STANDS - These used to be identifiable through the last character being S (with a few tweaks for special cases). The S has changed to T. The H for hesitation points has also been changed to T.

I will post any more changes that I find.

Some of these changes affect triggers for the processing that I do. I don’t think anything is insuperable but it may take some head scratching. Obviously TfL’s internal requirements are what matter but it would have been helpful to have had a heads up.

There is an issue with bus WTTs where an internal suffix is used. For example, the link for the 108 Sunday file actually takes you to the 108D (the late evening O2-emptying extras) in the new style. The 108D Sunday link takes you to the old style version of this file.

I have looked at two other routes where a suffix is used. Sure enough, the 110 and 110R get mixed up, and so too do the 143 and 143D.

I would be surprised if it does not apply to all such routes.

Similar issue with 24 hour bus routes. Route 12 has spawned links to FrNt etc which take you to the new style N12 FrNt schedule. Now there is a case for this but the old links to N12 are still present.

Similarly there is a case for ignoring the suffixes, given that they are not shown on the bus but I would take some convincing hat it is intentional! it creates a presentational dogs’ breakfast and does not wok at all when both the suffixed and non-suffixed routes operate with the same daytype. The actual 108 Su file is not linked to, for example.

I will try and work up a list of the cases where a link takes you to the wrong route (other than the 24 hour route cases referred to above).

I’m conscious that this is a moving target as in some respects things look different this morning. In particular, all links to files with a creation date earlier than 20th June are no longer present. This eliminates all old style files and with it much of the duplication, such as that noted for 24 hour bus routes.

Unfortunately this has left holes, presumably where no new style file was created. It is quite a long list so I won’t reproduce it here but as one of many examples for route 133 the only link now is to the MT timetable; nothing for Fr Sa or Su, services which definitely exist. I expect that some on my list have been culled because they are no longer current; this probably applies to some of the UL (tube replacement) services which no longer have links.

The prefix problem with night routes has been almost entirely eliminated by the mass deletion but not the suffix problem. The following links to the parent route take you to the suffixed versions even though a non-suffixed version should also exist. For example, the link to the 108 Sa and Su WTTs takes you to the 108D Sa and Su; both should exist. The other cases where such ambiguity exists are 25 spSa and spSu (takes you to 25U), 143 MFSc (takes you to 143D), N8 spFrNt and spSaNt (takes you to N8U) and N29 FrNt and SaNt (takes you to VN29, the one remaining prefix problem). This cannot be correct for 143 and N29 but it is possible that unsuffixed files do not exist for the others - right now.

Which is also the case for other “surprises” (14 to 14U, 22 to 22U, 110 to 110R, 281 to 281N and 281R and - apart from Sa Su - 108 to 108D). However, it is conceivable that ambiguity could arise for these files in the future (the specials are often used for clock changes, for example). In particular, SuNt was used for day extras during Covid, which would be an issue for 24 hour routes, and there would also have been wholesale ambiguity when the Covid school day extras (the V routes) were in full swing. The setup simply will not work when two files are competing for the same link.

It does seem weird that some 108 links take you to the main day timetable and others to the 108D. I’m starting to think that this is intentional but it does seem confusing to the user.

The 353 links are still naff but that is a transitional thing rather than something conceptual like the prefix/suffix thing.

I’m pointing all this out to try and help resolve matters quickly. It’s new; new things don’t always go completely to plan. If whoever is dealing with it wants to contact me direct, that’s fine. If it would be helpful to provide the full list of missing links, that’s fine too (though at the moment I seem to be talking to myself, apart from Brian’s reply which was deleted before I saw it!).

Further update. I have realised that the 133 has a new MT schedule. Presumably Fr Sa and Su have simply not been loaded yet. Same for about a dozen other Brixton routes. That accounts for many of the gaps which simply must be gaps, so should resolve itself eventually.

I see that some though by no means all of the files have been updated again this morning so someone involved must be aware that there are problems. It would be good to get some sort of feedback though rather than posting into a black hole!

I can’t see any resolution as yet though. Try http://bus.data.tfl.gov.uk/schedules/Schedule_143-MFSc.pdf and all you get back is the schedule for the school day double deck extras, rather than the schedule for the main service. That competing for the same link is the main issue as it is a design issue and conceptual in nature. No unique key in database terms (I like a good database, me).