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Arriva’s new website. A brutal review.

Wednesday 26th August 2020

It’s been trailed on social media as making “it easier than ever to connect with the people and places that matter to you”. Arriva’smuch vaunted new website and app were launched yesterday.

It gets a one star rating from me, and that’s being generous. Bring back the previous website famed for its mediocrity and clunkiness. At least it wasn’t offering comlete gobbledygook. This new abomination is the most unfriendly public transport website I’ve ever come across. It’s clearly been designed and signed off by people who simply don’t use buses. What an extraordinary state of affairs for an international transport group proud of its origins apparerently dating back to 1938 (that Cowie owned second hand motor cycle shop opened in Sunderland).

I know my blogposts can be riddled with spelling mistakes from time to time, but it’s just me tapping away on my keyboard for a bit of fun, and I try and get posts out within a matter of hours of a visit, so sometimes they’re a bit rushed and written on a smartphone while on a train or bus with a poor signal (that’s my excuse anyway). But to have spelling and grammatical mistakes in a website which has presumably been a long time in the making and subject to proof reading and checking many times over by professionals is inexcusable.

Take a read of this extract telling you all about the exciting new website, which doesn’t seem to know the difference between “you” and “your”:

But that’s just detail. What about the fundamentals? For me, a bus company website needs to have the basics of easy access to a timetable, a map and ticket prices. A journey planner is helpful but not essential.

Let’s take those in turn.

There’s a tab headed ‘Services and timetables’. This brings up a sub menu.

Click on ‘Download timetables’ and you get a quite mind boggling listing of every bus route Arriva operates in route number order – except not route number order as you and I would understand – no, this is route number order as though we are computer language geeks.

So after a listing of eighteen route 1s from across the country, next comes seven route 10s, followed by three route 100s , seven route 101s and so on. It’s not until you click on tab 2 (of 8) at the bottom of the listing …

…. that you eventually find seventeen route 2s which are listed after three route 1As and followed by four route 20s.

This is just simply the most bonkers thing I have ever seen. Whoever signed this off needs to consider their position. They’re clearly in the wrong job.

But, it gets worse. Click on a route number and the pdf of the timetable that fills your sceeen is as inexplicably bonkers as the route listing.

Timetables are only shown strictly according to the route number you’ve picked. So, for example, if you click on route 1 Chesham and High Wycombe, this shows only those journeys numbered as route 1 with departures from Chesham Broadway at 06:05 through to 08:31 then nothing until 15:06 and then departures through until 21:15. Every stop is listed for good measure too, making for a long listing.

You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s no off peak service. But, of course for that, you have to know to click on route 1A (listed a long way from route 1 – see above) which also lists peak time journeys as well as all the daytime journeys every half an hour, as they’re 1A rather than 1. Anyone who knows anything about buses and timetables would have immediately spotted the need to combine the 1 and 1A timetable into one presentation. This is pretty basic, kindergarten stuff. All the more so, as in the opposite direction buses heading towards Chesham in the off-peak every half an hour are numbered 1 and not 1A, so the opposite holds true.

Even worse, the timetable is incomplete as it only shows half the service, the other half of this integrated ‘partnership’ operated route is run by Carousel Buses providing a 15 minute frequency combined. But you’d never know from this presentation. (Carousel provide a combined integrated timetable as does Buckinghamshire County Council).

I could go on with more and more examples of complete rubbish being displayed on this so called “exciting” new website, but here’s just one more crazy, barmy soupçon of what you’ll find.

Some timetables, if they have different journey patterns in the evening or at weekends have a nonsensical presentation. For example, take the very first route listed – route 1 Blyth to Widdrington Station.

First comes a block showing a single journey from Blyth to Ashington at 18:18 headed ‘Monday-Sunday’ (Why not ‘Daily’?) – with a note ‘Only during Bank Holidays’. What on earth does that mean? That journey only runs on Bank Holidays or not on Sundays?

As you can see above, the next block is headed ‘Monday-Saturday – towards Blyth Bus Station’ showing journeys from 08:35 to 23:13 – all headed with the code 1 which presumably still refers to “Only during Bank Holidays” whatever that does mean. Then comes a Monday- Saturday block in the other direction.

Then, inexplicably you get two blocks headed ‘Monday-Friday’ which list journeys not included in the Monday-Saturday blocks. So for example, daytime departures from Blyth at 08 and 48 are shown under Monday-Saturday, but the 28 departure is shown under Monday-Friday. So to realise there’s a 20 minute frequency on a Monday to Friday, you have to read across the two separate blocks.

But then it’s followed by a Saturday block which lists those journeys which only run on a Saturday which include departures from Blyth at 28 minutes past the hour, so goodness knows why they weren’t included in the Monday-Saturday block. (I haven’t included every page here but hopefully there’s enough to give you an idea of the nonsensical nature of the presentation – even better, click on this link and click on the top entry ‘1 from Blyth Bus Station to Widdrington Station Turning circle’ and just for fun scroll down through all the pages.)

Then finally there’s a Sunday block. Which, just for confusion also shows every journey as ‘Only During Bank Holidays’ too.

It really is complete rubbish and reflects relying on a computer database rather than employing a human being to make some sense of what’s being shown.

Let’s move on to maps.

Now here’s some positive news. There are some decent route and network maps available on the website. But the bad news is they’re not easy to find. You have to click on the tab marked ‘Locations’ which brings up the old Arriva regions …

…on which a further click brings up “Popular places” in each region, with three highlighted places and pretty photos and an option of selecting from a drop down menu of many more places.

This brings up a selection of “Bus services in ….” and the words “Below are some of our more popular routes ….” which is a bit odd when in some areas only one (or two) route/s are listed as popular! For example, Chesham – the infamous 1 and 1A are listed along with a description of the delights to be found in Chesham as happens with each location – and which pretty much read the same for every place, other than the detail of theatre names being different.

But, if relevant maps are available for the particular area, then they appear below that under a heading called “Zone maps” and some of them are very useful showing route numbers and colour coded too.

And some of them are not so useful, showing no route numbers.

Clicking on Tickets brings up a sub menu and to find out the price of a ticket you have to click on ‘Buy tickets’ which brings up the regional sub menu and then a more detailed listing of the full range of tickets by location.

This provides a useful guide to what tickets are available in each area together with a blue spurge on a Google map indicating the rough zonal boundary with a downloadable pdf which gives a bit more detail.

It’s a pity this useful information isn’t made more accessible rather than expecting customers to commit to a ‘Buy tickets’ tab before being able to find out information on prices. Why not call the tab ‘Ticket prices’?

The Latest News tab takes you to a page showing snippets of news ranging from a “Road closure in Mill Hill Lane, Derby” through a “Diversion on Service 321” (which one?) to “Service changes in the Wakefield area”. There is an ability to use a drop down menu to select a particular Arriva region to sift through all this news for relevance, but even so, those regions are rather large – eg North East or Wales for my local news relevant to my bus route.

Finally the Journey Planner, which all good techy people hold so much sway over. takes prominent place at the head of the website on the home page. It’s one of those drop down menu type affairs where you have to find your particular stop from a detailed listing. And the big drawback is, rather than use the Traveline database, it only uses Arriva’s database of services.

So you get the crazy situation of, for example, noting under Locations – Maidstone – it encourages you “to venture to Leeds Castle”….

…so put in Maidstone in the drop down box for ‘Origin’ in the Journey Planner, and be skilled enough to scroll down the list of 20 options to reach Chequers Bus Station …

… then enter Leeds Castle as your destination for which you have to scroll down the list of 20 options for Leeds (that’s Leeds, West Yorkshire of course)….

…. so type in Leeds Castle only to find it isn’t listed ….

…. as Arriva don’t operate there. Nu Venture does. So tough. It may have those “stunning landscaped grounds” but Arriva aren’t going to help you find out how to “venture there”, even though they tempt you to visit!

And that just about sums up the new Arriva website.

From mediocrity to useless.

Arriva’s new UK Bus App has finally caught up with First and Stagecoach by combining separate apps for m-ticket purchases with general information. You have to create a new account and password – and take care to download the correct version as the App store yesterday was still showing the old app being available.

I haven’t been out and about yet to test the app on the streets but it’s good to see the live map is still available showing where every Arriva bus is nationwide (I like that) and I notice for route timetables there’s a handy map for each route before you click on ‘pdf timetable’ which takes you to the monstrosity of a timetable presentation described above.

Although there is one redeeming feature in that it does provide a link to “Related services” – see above for the 1 and 1A example in Buckinghamshire.

I noticed there’s an Arriva Help Portal which has a sub menu of “Select a region” – but these are the newer Arriva style regions following the Group’s last management reorganisation – you’d have to really be in the know if you lived in Milton Keynes to realise you come under the same region as Oswestry (ie Midlands) and not Southern Counties – and Oswestry is not North West and Wales.

The Help Portal has twenty-five pages of questions to wade through – although there is a search function which narrows it down a bit if you type in a relevant word.

Just don’t ask which bus goes to Leeds Castle.

“Easier than ever to connect with the people and places that matter to you?” You’ve got to be joking.

Roger French

BusAndTrainUser View All

I used to run a bus company but in retirement am a full time passenger travelling all over Britain enjoying its splendid scenic delights by bus and train. Currently social distancing at home.

55 thoughts on “Arriva’s new website. A brutal review. Leave a comment

  1. Thank you Roger. I had a little look myself yesterday.

    You didn’t bring this up specifically (there was too much else to call out) but I see they are using the vastly annoying feature that First do for their timetables of tabbed, numbered pages instead of one very long list you can scroll through. For example, how do I know what page route 74 is? Is it page 10 or page 6 or page 8? And even if I know it’s on page 8 I can’t get straight there without clicking a few times to get along to the higher number.

    For timetable presentation Arriva already had the awkward feature of repeated journey columns with odd notes, but this sounds even worse. The ultimate in automation with no human interaction.

    Groan…….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes; I nearly mentioned that annoying feature but got overwhelmed by the crassness of the rest of it! If you know your service number at least on the First website you can now enter that in a search box rather than play roulette on which page you need.

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  2. Don’t tell the fat bus bloke: “It’s all on the Internet”.

    May I commend the Intalink website? This is the Hertfordshire County Council offering (provided in conjunction with bus and train operators) that has just had a makeover and massively improves on what was already pretty good. I especially like the route maps that precede the timetables, and a pdf conversion is available with one click. If a route is diverted, then a message is shown at the same time.
    Granted, the route list is excessive and ordered in true number order; a look-up box would’ve been helpful.
    Perhaps a “compare and contrast” between Arriva and Intalink might be good fun . . . . start from Google and see how many clicks it takes to locate a specific route and journey . . . . .

    I too despair; if the www is the way forward (which it is), then why don’t website developers get input from users during the development process . . . it’s surely logical to do so, and any company that accepts such a rubbish offering needs to look closely at their managers that signed it off. Or am I being very “old-school”?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The comment they make about their origins doesn’t really demonstrate their pedigree in this field. I believe that Cowie were originally motor dealers (of various sorts) who moved into public transport almost by accident. George Ewer & Co, known by many for their Grey-Green Coaches operation, also had a string of profitable motor dealerships in Hampshire that Cowie rather wanted to expand their sphere of influence southwards away from Tyneside. They bought out Ewer and got a coaching operation thrown in. George Ewer goes back many more years before 1938 (to 1885, in fact) which I would have thought would have been a more relevant trail to give if you wanted to establish your credentials.

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  4. Cowie Group ran car dealerships across the North East when and when I was a boy they use to advertise on Tyne Tees Television.i think, strangely,their bus operations began down in London but back in the North East they bought up the two big halves that United had been split up into United and Northumbria but never regained the Scarborough and District bit….yet! it’s a pretty soulless organization with no local identity at all at least with Stagecoach you get, although not always, Stagecoach Cumbria for example and of course First…. Transforming Travel seems to be going back to local identity with the Buses of Somerset,First Kernow,etc..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is not unusual on transport related websites to have to know the answer before you ask the question but this takes things to a new level. How on earth is a stranger in any location expected to know which bus stop they want to leave from or arrive at? How can they know where buses go to?
    Like you, I wonder what trials this mess was put through before launch, and did they include anyone who actually uses a bus?.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Insistence on planning a journey to a specific precise location is presumably aimed to help people with their complete journey. However this ignores the fact that some stops may have two journeys a day, with a full service to another stop a short walk away, thus (in resulting in a poor choice for the requested journey) doing public transport a big dis-service.

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  6. Look we dumbed down our Desktop website to make it ‘look like a phone’ because we think your STUPID!.

    Like countless other companie are doing this is an absolutely HORRENDOUS ‘Tabletized’ Desktop website (re)Design!, headache inducing white, clunky, sluggish, massive tiles, menus, sticky headers/elements, fonts and search boxes, countless needless/pointless clicks, all designed for ‘finger pointing’ on phones and inflicted onto Desktop/Laptop users looking for a more advanced user experience!, it looks like it’s been designed for TODDLERS!, that is condescending and INSULTING!. It Inferior in EVERY SINGLE WAY to the old design and completely virtually UNUSABLE on Desktop/Laptop!.

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  7. Yesterday evening I decided to look on the Arriva website for details of any changes in school services from next week. As soon as I started looking around the system told me (and is still doing so ) that my location is not on an Arriva bus route! Rubbish – I am one mile outside of Maidstone and have services 71 and 71A passing my front window every 15 minutes.The service list seemed to keep trying to say that I was looking for services in the Derby area until I realised it had everything that Arriva operated listed if I wanted to scroll down for ages looking for it.

    As I know their local network I could get round that but assumed something had gone wrong with their website. Finding the same problem this morning I despaired. More so when I found that the downloaded timetable only had either the 71 or 71A in the off peak!

    What useless rubbish. How this can be expected to encourage one to travel by bus eludes me.

    Designed as you say by someone who doesn’t have a clue. Is that their employment policy for staff and consultants these days?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Years ago (please don’t groan!) when I worked on computer system development in a large ex-public sector company, we got the department which would be using the system to write a Statement of Requirements, which after some discussion and amendment was converted to a Detailed System Specification which they signed off. The system designers then took this as their bible and produced the system. This was then trialled by the user department who validated it or (more usually) found faults with it. Eventually the specification was met, and everyone moved on to something else.

    Where users are the public, it seems to be much harder to find people – or even try to find them – who will use the system and who are capable of articulating sensibly what they want it to do for them. Much too often large organisations think they know best, but it is not always clear how they generate this confidence. (Not only bus companies fail here – think of telephony, software, white goods, motor vehicles, any sort of instruction document, even the NHS.) Maybe it’s time for customers/users/Joe Public to be more actively interested in the development work that goes on behind closed doors, and for those doors to be opened so that we can all begin to have confidence that the outcomes will be sensible, useful and measurably better than whatever went before.

    How about starting with an annual award, maybe in the bus industry, for the most useful public information system (and a booby prize, of course) – judged by the public of course, not the buzzword-generating consultants?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I think you’re being too generous!

    Another failure of the website is that it hasn’t been programmed with any future changes. There are some major changes coming up in Yorkshire *this weekend*, which the new website doesn’t know about. I mean, the old website didn’t either, not really – there was a page that outlined roughly what the changes were going to be but no actual timetables, but now they have lost even that page. Out of the bus network in my small town, the changes are:
    🔸 Two linked routes running a town service withdrawn and alternative provision made by altering the route and timetable of two interurban routes
    🔸 One interurban route being withdrawn and replaced with two new linked routes
    🔸 One rural route being withdrawn
    🔸 Three new college routes (including a replacement for the withdrawn rural route, as long as you only want to travel at college times during term-time)
    🔸 One new town service
    🔸 The remaining one rural and two interurban services have amended timetables.
    So some pretty major changes, in less than a week’s time! And yet their journey planner is happy to have me using the routes that are cancelled at the end of this week all the way through next month.

    It is quite impressive how every iteration of the website is significantly worse than what went before. How is it so hard to get this right?!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This all sounds horrendous, especially as it did not seem possible for the previous Arriva web site to get any worse. Do their managers actually realise how useless all this is ??. With the apparent move away from printed timetables (assuming anyway there is somewhere to obtain them) such as First Essex and now Stagecoach South West where nothing at all is produced, the web site is the companies shop window and needs to be as customer friendly as possible.
    To my mind a good bus web site consists of
    a) a list of all the routes operated in numeric order for each specific area (even if some appear in more than one list) with a hyperlink to a simple pdf timetable for that route that can easily be printed off on one sheet of paper (with only occasional larger routes needing more than the one page).
    b) a map of services in each area with town maps as well where useful.
    c) details of fares, and especially availability of day tickets
    d) a journey planner for those unable to understand the maps and timetables
    Currently the best of the big groups is Stagecoach, but even this falls down where there is not an up to date map, or your service is deemed not important enough to show on the map, and you don’t know the number of it.
    In my mind the best ever website was Metrobus, which had absolutely everything you could possibly want (including full farecharts) in a very clear easily understandable presentation. Unfortunately now replaced by the standard one size fits all Go Ahead version, which whilst better than some, can be very frustrating to find the route you want.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. How about Ipswich Buses’ website for an example of good practice? – admiiredly a small local concern. Its front page clearly gives you links to ticketing, timetables and maps, and includes service updates. No Journey Planner (hardly necessary) nor “live” tracking, but pretty good.

    And also have a look at Sanders Coaches in Norfolk.

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  12. I think Brian has it pretty well right. The mention of service updates is important too: the Stagecoach website has plenty of space for them but unfortunately it isn’t always used to best effect. For example, the 31/33 routes between Peterborough and Whittlesey were recently diverted via Pondersbridge for 15 days because of planned work to provide services for a new housing development on the main road, but this was not mentioned on the Stagecoach website updates even though the stops between the Fenman and Whittlesey Broad Street were not served, there were substantial delays to buses and some disruption occurred.

    On a positive note, and as a former Herts resident, I applaud the Intalink site.

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  13. I looked at the Arriva Website the other day, It is a total nightmare to find anything, Colchester appears not to exist on it well on any logical basis. You can eventually find some data by careful searching but it is probably not complete and searching often pulls up old out of date data . Tried looking for the Greenline timetables but gave up. I could not be bothered to waste my time trying to find them

    Who an earth thought that mess of a web site was sensible ?. It needs to be totally redone

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s horrific, try looking for the Chester-Flint-Holywell-Rhyl group of services[11 changes to 11M in Holywell] 11/11A/11M/11X they’re all separate pdfs, not only that, once you’ve found the right 11 & clicked the timetable link, you have to then scroll down through 110 to 119, then 11As to get to 11M, the old site wasn’t great but the new one is far worse.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I would hazard a guess that the development work of this website was outsourced to developers in a country where
    a) English is not the mother tongue; and
    b) salaries for developers are significantly lower than in Western Europe.
    That doesn’t necessarily have to go wrong – but if you also outsource the analysis and the testing, the disaster is probably a foregone conclusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ugh, there’s something else wrong with the PDF timetables … where you have long routes like the X93 (Scarborough to Middlesbrough) there are registered as separate services, they have at least combined them into one rather than making you look up three different pages (which I wouldn’t have put past them), but there is no indication that the journeys run through, no notes about connections being guaranteed or even a suggestion that you can make connecting journeys, and the onward journeys are not even always in the adjacent column.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nothing Arriva does would surprise me, but this latest iteration of their website seems to be aimed at running down ridership. They’ve always been unresponsive to their customers, but with this website they seem to be actively antagonising them.
      I formerly worked for Darlington Transport before Bus Wars, and although I’m now retired I’m now investigating the possibility of regaining control of our buses. If anyone has any information or experience which may be of help, please contact me by email [paulthesame@outlook.com]
      with DARLOBUS in the subject line.
      Thanx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Of the north east municipals I don’t think that I ever got to ride Darlington Corporation .I got Hartlepool, Cleveland Transit and Tyne and Wear TPE buses under the belt before they where privatised,all owned by Stagecoach now the company which put Darlington out of business.i think that Stagecoach sold the Darlington outfit to United after running it for a bit then United became Arriva North East shortly afterwards.

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  17. I see that Arriva’s Travel Shop in Guildford bus station is closed. The notice on the door states “we have taken the decision to CLOSE all of our Ticket Offices across Arriva UK Bus for the safety of our staff and customers.”
    I wonder if they will ever re-open?

    Liked by 1 person

    • So Information Offices closed (I prefer ‘Information’ to their ‘Ticket’), paper timetables difficult to come by, bus stop timetables removed with notices inviting you to go on-line to be faced by this, I sincerely hope that they’ve drafted in extra staff to their Customer Services team, especially with schools back next week (with some having unfamiliar starting times).

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  18. Good review but I felt you were far too generous with one star! I have looked at the site open mouthed in shock at how poor it is.
    I tried going into the tickets section and then to ticket types/multi operator tickets and found a table headed “Multi-operator tickets in your region”, because I hadn’t had to select a region this lists every (presumably anyway) multi operator ticket valid on Arriva buses throughout the UK. On looking at the Explorer North East entry, as I buy that ticket occasionally, it shows validity on Weardale services but I had understood they had withdrawn from the scheme some time ago. So the information, if you can find it, isn’t even up to date.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve wondered that as I usually go up to St John’s Chapel once a year.Explorer didn’t come into it last year as I got the train to Bishop Aukland and then the Weardale 101.even prior to covid 19 the frequency of the 101 had been cut back.Arriva North East where doing an evening service from Newcastle via Durham City up to Stanhope and one from Darlington, presumably via Bishop Aukland?,too but only 1 trip which I’d guess was/is aimed at people living in Weardale but working in Darlington or Durham City?Teesdale has a much worse service, Wednesday only, Middleton to Langdon Beck but beyond Middleton the population is much lower than Weardale or Swaledale.

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  19. Further comment superfluous except to say as if the bus industry hasn’t got enough to put up with at the moment, a part of it decides to shoot itself in the foot! It was always my understanding that the German railways bought into Arriva (the ridiculous name should give you a clue) solely for it’s rail interests, intending to dispose of the bus business at an appropriate time. What a pity they didn’t.

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  20. Actually, I haven’t yet managed to find a PDF timetable which doesn’t have the small number 1 next to all Sunday journeys – in effect, Arriva are telling anyone who looks at these timetables that they just do not operate on Sundays.

    To be fair, the maps are generally good – including the Zone map for West Midlands/Zone Plus as this is just intended to show the ticket validity areas. There are also maps of the route networks for Derby, Hinckley and Leicester to complement it. Unfortunately, both the Hinckley and Leicester maps are out-of-date, still showing services which were either changed or withdrawn over a year ago!

    Regarding the Travel Centres, Arriva’s Leicester Travel Centre re-opened last week (Tuesday 18th August). However, they are not supplying any printed timetables ‘because they change so often’. Fair enough, perhaps, but I was there for less than 10 minutes and 3 people came in to ask for timetables and every one of them, when told they were only available on the website, said they didn’t use computers or smartphones.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Arriva getting a much-deserved slagging off here. One factor not yet mentioned is the modern IT industry way of developing websites, which relies on the public to do the fault-finding rather than having a thorough in-house testing process. There’s a grain of a good idea in this – IT people don’t fully understand the real world, let’s be honest, and managers are of course ‘busy’ doing other things. So the usual way of doing this is to have a ‘Beta’ version of the website, available to anyone, which allows bus geeks like me with nothing better to do to find all the errors in it before it’s inflicted on the travelling public as the official version. We all know it’s a test site so no-one gets hurt. Often this is almost as successful as the in-house testing route and it’s a lot cheaper. Unfortunately Arriva seem to have left this step out, which may not have been a good idea.

    I won’t add to the list of things that are wrong (though it sure is tempting), but it seems to me that what they’ve done is to use the same basic information from the old site (good maps, dismal timetables) and simply restructure it all so that it’s harder to find. Good old German efficiency, not.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Agreed the website is really shocking, though Leeds Castle is near Maidstone in Kent not Leeds West Yorkshire. I only know that because I’ve been recently. (Not sure why it’s called Leeds Castle unless there is a village nearby)

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  23. Wow thank you, I have said to arriva that there website has all the wrong information on it. Its terrible, all the wrong timetables on that website

    This post is brilliant 👍👍

    Many thanks
    Daniel Wallinger

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  24. Not living in an Arriva area, but my daughter lives next to a stop in Durham, on a regular 15 minutes service, therefore it should have been easy, but I couldn’t find the route anywhere, this was using a laptop. From my working experience trying to get any sense out of the IT dept wasn’t easy! Also a lot of tourist Imformation centres and libraries are closed which have often in the past held printed timetables or had printoffs of the local PDF timetables available.

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  25. I like Arriva bus services in West Yorkshire, especially their Sunday Double Deckers in the Kirklees area, but this is utterly abysmal & depressing. And surprising as DBs rail website is perfect. New Arriva Group CEO, Mike Cooper, starts in Oct but before that we can all email Deutsche Bahn’s CEO, Richard.lutz@deutschebahn.com. I suggested he read this review and sprinkled some German in there to make it a little light-hearted. ‘Verbesserungen’ means improvement!

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  26. Today, for a change, the website actually appeared to accept my location – until I realised they were bus stops on the A26 Tonbridge Road and NOT the A20 London Road, where I live.

    After some delving I found a link to changes in school services with a clear explanation of what they were – duplicate buses, larger vehicles etc. In several cases journeys will gain an ‘S’ prefix. In the footnotes it is explained that such journeys will be restricted to the use of scholars and students. Fine if there is an alternative journey other passengers can use but in some cases I don’t see that there is (Bearsted village and possibly the 5 and 12 from the weald area). How will such passengers find out about such restrictions?

    The layout of those timetables I have looked at misleading and perverse. First the off peak, then a section of combined morning and afternoon peak and then Sundays which a note says is only for Bank Holidays.

    I have been tempted to suggest that this work was undertaken on a take your child to work day BUT they would have produced something considerably better!!

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  27. Words fail me.

    I was at Arriva when the previous version of the website came about. Then various colleagues and myself gave reasonable criticism as bus users ourselves as to what worked and what didn’t work, especially in terms of timetable presentation.

    Unfortunately our comments were met with derision and disdain by senior management (who rarely, if ever, ventured onto any public transport) who told us all to sing from the corporate hymn sheet and accept that the live bus tracking maps worked well and that was what most users needed.

    There is a reason I no longer work for Arriva.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. The Managing Director replied to me ‘I have forwarded your email to my team’. Er, that would be the team that created this disaster?
    Well done Roger, hope you get listened to.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. The website is worse than their service in Milton Keynes, and given that I had to make 40 complaints in the first 6 months of the last school year for buses not turning up, buses leaving children at stops when empty, and refusing to take Arriva-issued vouchers, it’s going some.

    They won’t change anything – they’re too obstinate as a company to take any feedback or suggestions on – but will come unstuck in MK in the next two weeks when the penny drops, despite being warned for a month, that only having one bus timed to reach the second biggest comprehensive in the country on time will cause kids to be left at stops and panicking. They’re still insisting today that they don’t need any more changes to the service, and are refusing to escalate the issue further. Unfortunately, MK Council gave them a ridiculously long contract to run the “service” so we’re stuck with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I reckon ‘1. Only on Bank Holidays’ should read ‘1. Also on Bank Holidays’.

    North Wales route 5 has this note on a Monday-Sunday timetable section, with all journeys in that section showing Note 1 Only on Bank Holdiays.

    Someone in Arriva or their contractors thinks that ‘Only’ means ‘Also’, and nobody has spotted and corrected it……..

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I suspect the problems with the maps (common to other websites with these types of auto-generated maps) are:
    1) one bit of data is wrong (usually a bus stop location with an incorrect geolocation digit)
    2) the people writing the software don’t reflect that many bus routes don’t have the same routing for every journey – the latter must be hard to do on automated mapping. This highlights the important of good expert cartography by people who know buses.

    Also difficulties with finding future revised timetables may reflect a frustrating feature of many bus info, branding and marketing systems – that they pretend that the current network is now fixed and will never change. A ‘change process’ is essential in any such system.

    Lastly I’ve found many routes on the site lead to a ‘404 page not found’ message – are other people getting this?

    Like

  32. Well, here’s an alternative perspective…. on a desktop and on first use of the site, I’ve just done a journey plan from my home in an outer suburb of Liverpool to Liverpool City Centre – it returned the expected trips on the 10A.

    Clicking on a journey plan trip result produced the journey detail including a route map, walking instructions, intermediate stops etc.

    Clicking on ‘Buy Tickets’ set the route map within the contect of the available Liverpool/Merseyside zones, and a list of the zonal period products available. I could select a ticket, complete a prefectly acceptable account sign-up form, which left me in a position to complete a purchase.

    So with an existing account, that would be a journey plan to ticket selection to purchase to fulfilment to mobile wallet in 5 steps. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the future of passenger transport.

    Yes, the timetables are dreadful – but it’s not 1974, anyone not in the bus industry is using google to plan their journeys on their phone. Mobile first presentation, journey plans and mobile ticketing are where it’s act. And from that viewpoint, this site is objectively spot on.

    And no, I don’t work for them.

    Like

    • “anyone not in the bus industry is using google to plan their journeys on their phone”

      That’s simply not true. *You* may choose to use Google to plan your journeys, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else does.

      I don’t work in the bus industry; as my username suggests, I work in the rail industry, where painful experience has taught me that a surprising percentage of supposedly internet-savvy people (those who appear to be living their lives via Snapchat/Instagram/Tiktok/whatever-this-week’s-must-have-is) seem utterly unable to use Google Maps or Google’s search engine even to find their way from a railway station to their local destination, let alone use Google or the operator’s apps to plan their journey.
      (Anyone wanting to test this theory can do so easily enough next time they’re asked for directions by a person with a smartphone in their hand: say “I’m not really sure, mate, sorry. Have you tried using the map app on your phone?”, and see what reaction you get. It’s unlikely to be particularly positive).

      At work I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told that the train I’m driving is going to XYZ (rather than ABC) by people who present an app page to me to demonstrate that I don’t know where I’m going, only to be utterly bemused when I point at the relevant bit of their app and say “It says 2 changes there, look, so where are you changing at?”, and who then are quite surprised (and sometimes get quite huffy) when touching the screen shows the breakdown of the journey with all the various trains they’re supposed to be catching after they get off mine at A or B or C
      If it was a one-off I’d just put it down to that individual, but it’s not, and it’s not just yoof or kids or old farts or whatever group people like to claim don’t understand technology/transport/common sense; it’s all ages and all types of people.

      Besides, from personal experience Google can come up with some fairly weird and wonderful options when you plan public transport journeys with it, including (for example) getting off a bus and walking along the bus route past two stops served by the bus you’ve just got off, and getting off a bus at a stop named after a place then walking a mile-and-a-half around the block because Google isn’t aware there’s a footpath from the bus stop to the place… It’s not necessarily a good idea to suggest that Google is any better for journey planning!

      I like to think I’m fairly tech savvy, but I’m well aware that a lot of other people aren’t – even if they are brandishing the latest iPhone27 or Android93CurlyWurly device, and it’s something that the IT industry really needs to start accepting and making allowance for.

      Liked by 2 people

  33. So you’re saying you look around say Euston station concourse and see people consulting paper timetabes to work out journeys? Nope, they’re on their phones. They may not be on Google but they’re definitely on Trainline; planning journeys, checking app departure screens, and buying tickets. All the same functionality as on the Arriva site.

    Don’t get me wrong – the Arriva site has lot and lots of problems. But by focusing on the crappy timetables, Roger’s review misses the point by a mile. Completely missed key functionality the single sign on across web and mobile platforms (and the implications for big data and CRM), the integration of the journey planning with the ticket catalogue, the single retail proposition, the web to mobile ticket fulfilment.

    All the key ingredients are there and that’s where the dev time went, and that’s what can be refined in time. But timetables? They’re very much legacy I’m afraid.

    Like

    • Well, I need something user-friendly that I can print out and carry with me. I do use a PC at home but I don’t have a phone which can run ‘apps’ and I can’t really afford to buy and run one on my pension – and I don’t see why I should have to do so just to know my bus times (I really wouldn’t have any other use for a smartphone).

      Many people around where I live are elderly – and they are the ones who actually use the buses from here – and hardly any have access to on-line timetables or journey planners. When the timetables change, I normally end up collecting a couple of dozen from the Travel Centre (which is not centrally-located in Leicester) to hand around and they are gratefully received.

      The fact is that Arriva do seem to accept that a timetable that can be printed out is a necessity but have botched the provision of them, making it hard to track them down and, when you find them, they are now in a format which makes them almost impossible to use. We don’t need a time for EVERY stop and we DO need the journeys to be shown in time order. Ironically, that was exactly what was available with the PDF timetables on the old site!

      The website needs to work for everyone who might want to catch an Arriva bus.

      Like

  34. Buses are very much a turn up and go service and are far more local than rail. You dont in many cases no what bus you will want to get. You may be out shopping for example. You dont want to be trying to plan a jouney on a moble phone. You just need to know the route number and the times ie a simple timetble. The Arriva web site is even worse if you are say on holiday. . You are not familiar with the area or the buses. You need a simple area map and basic timetable information

    To find anything on th Arriva web site you pretty much need to know the informtion you are looking for before you can find it

    Like

  35. There are a number of comments appearing now on the Arriva Midlands East Facebook page commenting that various parts of the new app are not working correctly. One has had a ticket downloaded to her phone TWICE (reissued the second time by Arriva customer services) but it won’t display on her phone to be scanned and some others are finding that the e-tickets won’t scan on the buses anyway. One comments: “WORST app in the world! I think it’s designed by 2 year olds for 2 year olds to play with… it’s no use to those needing transport!!!”

    I have just tried to check the price for a local Day Saver ticket but I can’t because, every time I click on ‘Find a travel zone on our UK bus network and buy your Day Saver tickets here’, I am taken to a 404 error page! Surely avoiding 404 error pages should be website design 101?

    Liked by 1 person

  36. It’s great that the journey planner and ticket purchase has a satisfied customer in Phil, but surely if you offer a menu of options, they should all work. Not all of us trust implicitly in journey planner software, so being able to double-check or look at alternatives is essential.
    Surely the worst failing is that, in my area at least, all the timetables expire today and tomorrow’s are not yet loaded. They’re in there, because the journey planner finds them, but they’re not on offer – not anywhere that I’ve been able to find anyway. This could just be relevant since the schools go back next week. For example, one of our local school journeys (in Guildford) has its own route number (134), but a search for 134 returns ‘no options’. Bad luck if that’s your school.
    There is what could be a useful option in ‘Search below to see where Arriva buses are near you’. But unfortunately, unless you live at the terminus, your local route won’t be found. Fine if it’s your local route, but suppose you’re on holiday and don’t know the local buses? Surely a site should provide help to people who don’t already know the answer?
    The saddest comment of all is the prediction that Arriva are too obstinate a company to do anything about all this. One has to hope for better.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Another daft idea of bus companies and Local council is to show a timetable that just shows the departure time from the stop and the time it reaches the final destination. Not of use if that not where you want to go

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Rail is just as bad in the London area as you end up having to look in 2 places to try to find the Information such s for Greater Anglia and TfL rail. Many places are served by both but they make it hard work to find the information.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Just to say that we live in Norfolk and are away from home. We have used Arriva today and the site told us exactly how and when to get to Whitby from Guisborough. Could not get a price for a day ticket so bought a return on the bus. We didn’t want a three day ticket just to get to Saltburn as well.

    Like

  40. I would not mind a bad webpage if it at least works. But it does not. I cannot log into my account anymore due to my password being not in line with there suggestions of using lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters. Although it does !!!!
    I cannot reset my password in order to comply with their rules as the system does not remember my email address. I also cannot register a new account using a different email address because again of the the same password issues.
    Useless, pointless, meaningless, whateverless.
    I need to by single week tickets on Bus now as they cannot process 4-week tickets on buses.

    Like

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