Monthly Archives: November 2011

The new kebab shop style BBC homepage

For sometime the BBC homepage has contained a link to view a beta release of a proposed new homepage with a request for comments. They certainly received my input but it’s not made a scrap of difference. Beta testing must be over now because visiting the homepage today immediately takes you to the new page :-(

The ‘old’ homepage was extremely configurable; users could remove sections in which they had no interest (Sport, Weird & Wonderful etc. in my case) and expand those in which they wanted more detail (Business & Finance being one of mine).

Here’s how my customised ‘old’ page looked. It’s logical, tidy and contains lots the information in which I’m interested.

Here’s the new dumbed down homepage with the only customisation possible, location, having been carried out.

Everything seems to need a picture alongside in case the words are not enough. It reminds me of a typical Kebab & Pizza takeaway where everything they offer needs not only words but a bright, backlit, gaudy image in case the words alone don’t convey the message. The BBC homepage used to present a classic menu, now it’s dumbed itself down to a kebab shop style menu just like this one!

Busworker

If you like your bus news to have a left-wing bias you may be interested in Busworker.

One of the aims of the site is “…. to be a place for discussion, debates – and if necessary disagreement”. There’s not much evidence of that, I could only find one comment to a posting during the last 3 months.

I like their logo.

A local authority with too much money in its concessionary fund!

Swansea Council is wasting spending £35,000 of its concessionary (travel) fund to give all under 16′s free bus travel, any time, any day, any where, in Swansea for two and a half weeks over Christmas. What a complete waste of money, I’m glad I don’t pay my Council Tax to Swansea!

One aim of the scheme is “… to help families with a lot of children who want to come into the city centre to use facilities like the shops, leisure centre and Winter Wonderland.” I can empathise with that and if one of the conditions of travel were that the under 16 year old must travel with a parent I’d applaud the scheme. However, that’s not case so I’m sure the majority of free under 16 journeys will be made by 12 – 16 year olds travelling all over the place just for ‘something to do’.

A far better use of £35,000 of concessionary travel money would be to give school leaving registered job seekers free travel between 09:00 and 17:00 (likely interview times) in order for them to attend interviews or to just get out and knock on employer’s doors in order to find work.

Catch That Bus – mobile phone app.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve now got a smartphone. I’d not seen apps before but now I’m hooked on these little applications, many of which are free. I’ve bought just two, one of which is Catch That Bus at £1.99 Start the app and it immediately uses the phone’s GPS facility to present a map of your current location and all local bus stops.

You then zoom in on a chosen bus stop and tap the screen. The bus stop name and location is displayed.

Another tap on the screen and you’re presented with a menu.

Selecting ‘Show Departure Board’ shows all departures from the stop by time, service number, operator and destination.

‘Show Street View’ displays the Google street view so that you can reassure yourself that you really are where you think you are!

I score this app 10 out of 10.

Bus Stops Of The Soviet Union: A Photo Study

“In the Baltic countries and the former Soviet Union there was a lot more creativity in the bus stops than in Western Europe. I was quite amazed at how imagination was going into these edifices. In each town they’d put their own individual touch onto their local bus stop by hiring local artisans to decorate them. A lot of the architecture in the former Soviet Union is quite conservative and functional. What amazed me was that some of these shelters were not functional at all… A lot of these bus stops are in the absolute middle of nowhere, on some country road where there isn’t even a town close by. Some of them aren’t being used anymore and are run down and falling apart. I want to capture them before they’re lost forever.”

Here are a few samples. You can see them all at http://herwigphoto.com/. It’s a flash site so I can’t give a direct link to the page, you’ll have to go there and then click on Soviet Bus Stops and choose photos.

[slideshow id=1]

This has brought to mind the Unst Bus Shelter, see here.

Bus passengers should come first

So says a letter to the Evening Telegraph.

It goes on to say:-

On boarding a bus recently, I was left aghast when the driver informed me the only reason he had stopped was to allow passengers who had boarded in Perth to get off.
He explained that as he was running late he had been instructed by his supervisor not to stop to pick up any passengers so he could make up time.

I later spoke to one of the passengers who had alighted the Stagecoach bus and he informed me that the driver had driven down the Perth to Dundee dual carriageway and had not followed the scheduled route that would have taken him through the various Carse of Gowrie villages.

I could only imagine the anger and frustration of anyone who had been left stranded by this.

If this is so that they can ‘tick the box’ on punctuality then I find it disgusting and the bus firm should be ashamed that it could treat customers in such a manner. — A. Payne, Invergowrie.

Here we have someone ‘on the bus’ complaining vociferously, and quite wrongly, on behalf an imagined group people (those who they think the bus left behind by taking a direct route) who in actuality have no problem at all! Without a doubt the driver’s controller did say “just drop off” and probably added “don’t bother with the villages”. Once a bus is so late that the following on time bus is only a minute or two behind the late bus there is little point in the late bus and the on time bus joining and becoming one! Better do something to get the late bus back on time.

By coincidence I had a very similar situation today where a group of disembarking passengers were extremely rude to me and were all complaining on behalf of imagined fellow passengers who would be inconvenienced. I wont go into the rather complicated situation but those who were complaining were where they wanted to be, when they wanted to be. And those not present, but on who’s behalf they wanted to rant and rave at the bus company, were being picked up by a bus at the time and place they expected to be picked up!

A final point about being late is how unhelpful it is when each boarding passenger says “You’re late what’s the problem”? Don’t they realise that having to explain that there are roadworks at ‘x’ etc to every boarding passenger is just adding to the delay. Board 20 people and answer that question 20 times, even if it only takes 10 seconds a time to do so, and you’ve lost more than another 3 minutes!