Monday, January 15, 2018

Bus Safety Announcement

Transport for London (TfL) reckons around 3000 people are injured every year by slips, trips and falls on London buses. So it is running trials of an automated system that announces the departure of the bus from the stop.
"Please hold on, the bus is about to move"

or as Bon Jovi might say
"We've gotta hold on ready or not."

The problem is that these alerts often come after the bus is already halfway down the road.
"Whoa, we're half-way there."

As the BBC News explains, the timing of the alert is based on the average amount of time a bus would spend at a bus stop, and is often hopelessly inaccurate. Passengers have taken to social media in droves to complain or mock. Many have wondered whether it was such a problem in the first place, and whether an alert would help to alleviate the problem. Others have pointed out the potential value of such an alert for certain categories of passenger - such as the elderly or visually impaired - but of course this only works if the alert comes at the right time.



I haven't spoken to anyone at TfL about this, but I can imagine what happened. In order to get a trial up and running quickly, they didn't have time (or permission) to link the alert with any of the systems on board the bus that could have sent a more accurate event signal. So we have a stand-alone system, knocked up quickly, as an experimental solution to a problem that most people hadn't previously recognized. In the trimodal scheme, this is a classic Pioneer project.
"For love we'll give it a shot."

So if the trial isn't laughed into touch, then maybe the Settlers can take over and do the alert properly.
"Take my hand, we'll make it. I swear."

And the Town Planners can come up with a joined-up long-term vision for passenger comfort and safety. Altogether now ...
"Whoa, livin' on a prayer."



Update

The wording of the announcement has changed, but the timing hasn't. It now says.
"Please hold on while the bus is moving"

What can I say to that?
"Standing on the ledge, I show the wind how to fly. When the world gets in my face, I say, have a nice day."





Londoners hit out at 'mistimed' bus safety alerts (BBC News, 14 January 2018)

Nadia Khomami, Please hold on: TfL urged to get a grip over annoying bus warnings (Guardian, 15 January 2018)

Eleanor Rose, TfL anger London commuters again with replacement bus announcement that is 'still annoying as hell' (Standard, 26 January 2018)

Londoners baffled by 'bonkers' bus safety announcements warning them 'the bus is about to move' (Evening Standard,15 January 2018).


For more on Trimodal IT, see my post Beyond Bimodal (May 2016)

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