06 June 2008

Unreal Time Info

I normally catch the same buses at roughly the same time each day on nice frequent bus routes so don't often need to use the new RTP Info system. However, yesterday evening I was at a friends house picking up my son who had stayed for tea. I was keen to get him home and we knew that the bus was due at 6:58 (47) and there wasn't going to be another one for an hour. If we missed it we would have to walk to the Ski Lodge and hope to catch a 50, assuming there was one. I was cutting it a bit fine to get to the bus stop on time but we would have seen it if we had just missed it.

At about 7:10 I thought we had missed it. I noticed that this was one of the new bus stops with the text code - great! Sure enough a few seconds later I had confirmation that the next bus was indeed due at 8pm - we had missed the bus. I was a bit cross it had seemingly been early but accepted the fact that we were not at the bus stop on time anyway so it was our fault. I then began to explain to my young son that we would have to walk a bit. He wasn't too happy and wanted to wait for a bit 'just in case' the next one was early! I managed to get him to agree to wait for 20 more cars to drive passed - and then we would start walking. Just 5 cars went by and then the 47 appeared - over ten minutes late!

I wasn't angry that the bus was late - this is Plymouth, traffic is bad, buses often run late. I was angry that if I had started walking I would probably have missed it as there is a section of the route where we would not have been able to flag it down.  I know that some of the older buses don't have the full RTP trackers fitted but this was one of last years Enviros having a break from the 34s. I thought the whole point of the RTP system was to show the next bus, and highlight if the buses are running late so you can make an informed choice on what to do. This was the first time I had used it at another bus stop other than my own local stops (mostly for testing!). As more of the new style bus stops spring up with the text code then more passengers will try the system. Misleading info is almost worse than no info at all.


Original photo by PowerUpMobile (Creative commons)


  1. Never forget:

    1 Destination Nmin = real time
    1 Destination 2200 = scheduled


  2. The text codes for the bus stops do not give RTP information, they're for timetable enquiries only. Which is stupid as every stop has a printed timetable anyway. I got caught out by this at Buckfastleigh once when the bus was 40 minutes late,


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