diamond geezer

 Monday, January 08, 2018

Now that the new tube map is out, it's time for a Dagger Check. This blog has always loathed excess daggers, so it's a pleasure to report that there are still only a dozen, rather than the thirty-something in the dagger's evil heyday. Unfortunately the use of daggers on the tube map is utterly broken, as we shall now prove.

Although there are 12 daggers on the tube map, there's only room in the key to explain what three of them mean. It's interesting to see which three daggers TfL's mapbods think are the most important, and the answer is "the ones with step-free issues". Hounslow West's dagger has been on the map for 10 of the last 11 years, warning that step-free access is for manual wheelchairs only. But the other two are new - Brixton because the lifts are out of action for eight months, and Victoria because step-free access is only available at the new Cardinal Place entrance.

As for the other nine daggers, the red ones, TfL don't reveal on the map what these mean. They introduced this ludicrous system two years ago whereby you're supposed to go online and find out why the station's daggered, because the map's not going to tell you. What's more there isn't an actual list, instead you're supposed to
  a) open up a search engine or search app
  b) search for 'TfL stations'
  c) click on the top link in the list, which will be Stations, stops & piers
  d) type in the name of the station with the dagger
  e) look for the box that says 'Xxx Station has reported access issues'
  f) click on it

Who in the course of their normal journey is going to go through all that palaver to find out what a dagger means? More importantly, most of the time step e) doesn't actually work. Amazingly, at the majority of the red daggered stations, nobody has thought to add the information you're supposed to be looking for on the website, or else it used to be there but it's disappeared. Here's a list to demonstrate how useless the red daggers are.

 StationWhat's the dagger for?Does the map
say this?
Does the website
say this?
Turnham GreenPiccadilly line trains sometimes stopNoNo
HolbornExit only, weekdays 07:30 - 10:00NoYes
Goodge StreetReduced lift service until late 2018
Exit only, weekdays 07:30 - 10:00
Camden TownExit only, Sundays 13:00 - 17:30NoNo
Cambridge HeathTrains to/from Chingford don't stopNoNo
London FieldsTrains to/from Chingford don't stopNoNo
West India QuayTrains from Bank don't stopNoNo
Canning TownLifts out of service until June 2018NoYes
Emerson ParkTrains stop by 10pmNoNo

Some of these issues are quite important, either temporarily or always, but in the majority of cases neither the map nor the website reveal them. The Camden Town issue is the most glaring omission, a closure which inconveniences thousands of passengers weekly, but whose start and finish times aren't actually stated anywhere.

It seems TfL's tube map designers have abdicated responsibility to TfL's website designers, and TfL's website designers haven't realised they have this responsibility so have allowed gaping holes in the information they provide. Agile auto-generated coding, alas, isn't a patch on a carefully thought-through printed list. This red dagger protocol is a lazy copout, thoughtlessly delivered, and entirely unfit for purpose.

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