Regular readers may remember this tale of woe where we were forced to spend time in a pub eating and drinking due to the inability to obtain a bus time, as the local online travel info service doesn’t include services by Diamond Bus.
This annoyed us at the time, and has further annoyed my dear other half, as if you try to get journey times between home and the big bad city, it only shows journeys sponsored by Centro. This means a few early or late ones. Kind of negates the value of a ‘network’ journey’ planner, huh?
The service is run by West Midlands Travel Information Services. This is a private company (PDF, 210K), with shareholders that include bus companies (including Birmingham Coach, aka Diamond, as of the last published statement), CENTRO, and councils. They told us:
Unfortunately commercial services operated by Diamond have been withdrawn from the data feed we hope this is only a temporary situation and are working with our partners Centro to resolve it. In the interim you may wish to use Diamond’s own web site http://www.birmingham-coach.co.uk/10_routes_and_timetables.htm.
and after further questioning along the lines of “why”:
While Centro are a publically funded body they are only a partner and data supplier to our organisation. As the details behind why information on these services has been withdrawn is confidential I hope you will appreciate that I cannot disclose the reasons that lead up to this decision being taken.
I would however like to reiterate that we hope the current situation is temporary and are doing everything we can to find an amicable solution.
We’ve asked Diamond why, but haven’t had an answer as yet, if we do, it will be posted here.
Whatever the story, this is another example of the disjointed mess that public transport has become: no-one has control or responsibility, and us, the users who pay for it (via taxes and fares) suffer. Centro are supposed to do stuff, but in practice are seemingly powerless. Incomplete data is worse than no data in my opinion: the current planner could see you taking a longer, slower, more expensive route.
As it happens, I’ll be using the Diamond 56 to Birmingham at least once next week. As I’m an infrequent but regular user, I know it exists, and generally, it’s a reliable service with clean buses and decent staff. I know that many of my friends and neighbours don’t have a clue what bus goes where, and ‘Network’ West Midlands won’t tell them any different. With the alternative being a bus into Walsall and then a bus or train from there, I suspect many of them will reach for the car keys, even with fuel scarce and £6 a gallon, and city centre parking expensive. This is the competitive, efficient market that bus privatisation gave us: fragmented, incoherent, and poorly organised.
[query] I wonder if the iPhone/Android apps use the same, incomplete, dataset?
I asked Diamond:
Hi Are you able to tell me why your services do not feature on the Centro
Hotline or the travelinemidlands journey planner? It’s very inconvenient and must be
losing you business. Thanks Chris Bartram
Form inserted: 31/03/2012 09:30:37
Form updated: 31/03/2012 09:30:37
and got back:
Unfortunately, neither traveline or transport direct who provide the information
on bus services within the West Midlands County supply information for Diamond
commercially operated services.
Thanks. In case you didn’t get my previous email, I know that already, having found
it out the hard way! My question was “Why is that the case?”.
If you’re unable to answer for some reason, that’s OK, but please let me know either
and the reply was:
Unfortunately, I do not know the reasoning why traveline and transport direct do not
provide the information for our commercially operated services but I believe there
is an additional charge for this.