New FirstGroup App

Bus and Coach operations, new or changed services and timetables for First Midland Red Buses Limited or its predecessor, Midland Red West Limited.
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AdamH
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Joined: 12:17 Sunday 3rd July 2016
Location: Worcester

New FirstGroup App

Post by AdamH » 09:53 Saturday 15th April 2017

About a week ago First updated their mobile phone app with real time route planning. I've tried to use it several times and it has always crashed or frozen, but today it has worked for the First time... sort of.

I asked for times from my current location, Crowngate Bus Station in Worcester to St. Peter's. A nice easy one which should have put me on the 0950 Service 32 to Baynhall.

However, it would seen the journey involved lots of walking and many bus and train changes, and should take about 8 hours...
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MattW
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Location: Welland

Re: New FirstGroup App

Post by MattW » 16:27 Saturday 15th April 2017

Still some teething troubles? :lol:

DD12
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Re: New FirstGroup App

Post by DD12 » 18:02 Saturday 15th April 2017

I've been intending for ages to ask about a certain aspect of real-time info for potential passengers, and I'm very much hoping that First's app, (and the county council live info at bus-stops) will be "very good":-

- Most of Worcester's bus services now terminate in the central bus station, which I believe to be essential because of frequent jam-ups anywhere on our network at any time -
- essential is the ability to dispatch a different vehicle and driver as close as possible to "on-time" - to replace the intended bus which is stuck somewhere in a jam, ETC.
There are lots of real-world considerations around this, but, for example, as soon as "central-control" knows that a bus is going to arrive TOO LATE at Crowngate, it should (perhaps) look on it's system to see if it can reallocate a vehicle and driver that is at, or arriving at Crowngate -

- until that decision is taken, the departure time of any journey from Crowngate, and from all the subsequent stops along that route, would need to be shown on real-time info as the same as the timetable.
- once the decision is taken that there is no substitute vehicle, or no substitute driver available, then the real-time info would need to suddenly change to showing the departure times along the route as - xx.xx (Late) or xx.xx (Very Late).

Can anyone with good logic skills see any way to improve the above scenario,
- OR, as my logic is sometimes faulty, can anyone re-write the above using correct logic (please) ??

Also, does anyone know of a website/page that shows schematics etc, for the above ?

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AdamH
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Location: Worcester

Re: New FirstGroup App

Post by AdamH » 19:59 Saturday 15th April 2017

I've been playing with the app a bit more throughout the day and I've made a few more observations...

Firstly, I think the use of the phrase "real time" in the advertising is a bit misleading. Maybe in other areas around the country the system uses real time data, but from what I can see it only uses timetable information in Worcester.

You need to be very precise when inputting a destination. When you first run the app it asks which area you are in. "Worcestershire" is an option so that is what I selected. It also asked to use the phone's GPS so it know exactly where you are. Given this, you would expect search results to be returned for places in Worcestershire or, if none could be found, for nearby counties such as Herefordshire or Gloucestershire etc. So when I typed "St Peters" why did it try to send me to Scotland by default? I have found the best way to tell it where you really want to go is to use a post code.

The app is called "First Bus" so you would expect buses would be the order of the day, but it seems very keen for you to take the train. And not just First's trains, but any old train will do, rather that a bus.

A few examples... Searching Worcester to Birmingham only returned journeys by train. Worcester to Droitwich returned two different train options as the first choice, and a third option to catch the next 144A. Oddly, it told you to get off the 144A at Old Coach Road and walk the rest of the way to Droitwich!

Searching for Worcester to Tewkesbury again gave two train options at the top of the list. First was to get the train the Gloucester and a Stagecoach bus to Tewkesbury, the second was train to Cheltenham then Stagecoach bus to Tewkesbury. Option 3 was to catch the X50 to Evesham then Astons 540 to Tewkesbury, and finally option 4 was to catch the 363. I chose Option 4 because a) it was the quickest and b) because I was driving it!

It is nice that it shows other operators and trains, but why is the bus last on the list?

While waiting time in Tewkesbury I input my home Post Code, which is just off Bath Road in Worcester. This time the first option was to catch the 363, but it advised me to get off the bus at Lower Wick and walk the rest of the way (that's well over a mile). Option 2 was to use the 363 to Crowngate and walk from there, and finally Option 3 was to catch the 363 to Crowngate and then the 32 to Bath Road.

I believe this has the potential to be a very useful app, but they need to find a way to root out the stupid answers and give priority to options that use First buses and/or trains.

chason
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Location: Bromsgrove

Re: New FirstGroup App

Post by chason » 20:05 Saturday 15th April 2017

Sounds as though there are fair number of teething problems to be sorted before it will be any use to intending passengers. In the meantime a bit of a fascination for transport enthusiasts.

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AdamH
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Joined: 12:17 Sunday 3rd July 2016
Location: Worcester

Re: New FirstGroup App

Post by AdamH » 20:15 Saturday 15th April 2017

chason wrote:
20:05 Saturday 15th April 2017
Sounds as though there are fair number of teething problems to be sorted before it will be any use to intending passengers. In the meantime a bit of a fascination for transport enthusiasts.
The thing is, this app is already live and being advertised on posters on most buses. I'm not testing some future product, it's already out there.

DD12
Posts: 283
Joined: 19:49 Monday 4th July 2016

Re: New FirstGroup App

Post by DD12 » 20:32 Saturday 15th April 2017

I believe I have seen some references to LIVE real-time info as -
- something like "Live / Real-Time FORECASTING info."

(So perhaps the Met Office should be in-charge !) :)

MattW
Posts: 292
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Location: Welland

Re: New FirstGroup App

Post by MattW » 21:36 Sunday 16th April 2017

What utter rubbish. Do they not have any kind of testing regime before they put these apps 'in service'. Stuff like this is one of the main reasons people still refuse to use buses, because they cannot get accurate information. Other cities and companies manage to do it so why can't 'we'?

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