diamond geezer

 Friday, January 26, 2018

In good news, TfL have made another adjustment to London's most infuriating message.

Please hold on, the bus is about to move.

In bad news, they haven't turned it off. Nor have they tweaked the timing to linked it to the closing of the doors.

Instead they've changed the wording, starting from this morning, and it now says this.

Please hold on while the bus is moving.

Now it no longer matters whether the bus has left the stop or not, because the new message is entirely time-independent. If you're halfway down the road when the message plays, or still minutes from setting off, that no longer matters. Ditching the phrase "is about to move" has solved the problem, as should have been obvious to whoever set the trial up.

It'll still be repeated as often, so will continue to piss off everyone who's annoyed by relentless intrusive safety messages. But it won't be laughably, mind-numbingly incorrect, so that's a result.

Amusingly, Please hold on while the bus is moving is one of the alternative messages I proposed on this blog ten days ago. It would be amazing, or entirely cringeworthy, if London's newest viral irritation were somehow my fault. In mitigation I would like to state that I nabbed the wording from a tweet by @rhyssmith55, so he should get the credit, if indeed this is the source.

The new message marks an intriguing shift in the focus of TfL's four-week safety trial. Previously it was all about the moment of departure, urging to hold you on as the bus set off from the stop. But the new message is much more broad, targeting not just changes of speed but every moment of forward motion. And this refocusing means that the advice now being given remains mostly unnecessary, most of the time, for the majority of bus passengers.

If you're boarding a bus, or attempting to move towards the doors before it stops, then it certainly pays to hold on. If the bus is busy and you're standing up, then maybe it doesn't hurt to be reminded to hold on at extremely regular intervals. But if you're sitting down then you do not need to hold on, not unless the driver is driving really badly, which they've been specifically trained not to do. Indeed depending on what kind of bus it is, and where you're sitting, there may not even be anything for a seated passenger to hold on to. Please hold on while the bus is moving may be an improvement, but is still poorly targeted and remains annoying aural overkill.

We're now at the halfway point in TfL's trial, thankfully, so should only have to endure this noise pollution for another two weeks. But this is the second time they've changed how the trial works - once the timing and once the message - so I hope they're not hoping to put too much trust in the resulting data. On average 'only' 60 passengers each week suffer a trip, slip or fall on a bus, so it'll be nigh impossible to prove whether any reduction in accidents is the result of random fluctuation, the message itself, or the enormous publicity backlash this misguided trial has generated.

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