diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 18, 2018

If you make a one-off journey in London, and aren't sure of the best route, the most useful page on the TfL website is undoubtedly the Journey Planner. But if you're a regular traveller, and know where you're going, then the Status updates page is more likely where you look. Is the Hammersmith & City line working, quick check, yes it is, great, let's go.

But I wonder, have you ever checked out all the other tabs on the Status updates page? In what follows, I'm going to suggest that TfL's team of agile webcoders probably haven't recently.



The main Status updates page displays a rainbow board of services, most-disrupted first, plus a zoomable map to show where these disruptions are. If you're on a mobile, or any device with a narrow screen, the map only appears if you click on a special button. The map doesn't always get things right, as that illogical gap in next weekend's Overground disruptions demonstrates. But on the whole it provides a good snapshot of what is or isn't running right now, even if more localised niggles can get hidden.

What I bet almost everyone overlooks is the Stations tab. This kicks off with any stations which are actually closed, which is a big improvement on the early days of the redesign when these were simply buried within the list below. But then follows a list of all the other stations with issues TfL think you might want to know about. Ridiculously, there are over 100 of them, from Acton Central all the way down to Woodside Park.



The issues don't all pop up at once, you have to click on the station you're interested in, assuming you can be bothered to whizz all the way down the list to find it. But I have gone the extra mile to drill down to see what's there (at time of checking, 112 stations), and I can confirm that someone has been inconsistently over-zealous.

15 of the 112 messages concern step-free access or escalators, generally temporary reductions or closures. 4 of the messages concern out of service lifts, which could make or break some travellers' journeys. 3 of the messages point out there's no access to the station at certain times, which might be really important. 2 of the messages are to say that ticket offices are closing permanently (at Stonebridge Park and South Kenton) at the end of this week. So far, so good. But then there are the superfluous messages.

65 (sixty-five!) of the messages state that a ramp is available for boarding trains if you ask staff in the ticket hall. That's damned useful to some, but total information overload for the rest of us, and (because these stations are all over the place) probably better suited for display on a map. 3 of the messages state that certain doors in certain carriages won't open at certain Overground stations, even though dozens of other stations have similar issues which aren't mentioned, and it would be utter overkill if they were. And 21 of the messages are simply to tell you to hold the handrail! It looks like the most accident prone stations are being targeted, but once a list of statuses reaches this level of nannying, the provision of "important" information has clearly gone too far.

The next tab is Buses. I wonder how few people ever click on this before they take a bus journey, on the off chance, given the palaver of checking. To find out what's going on you have to enter a location or give a route number, and if a box appears you then have to click on that to see what the issue is. It probably works better on a mobile than on a laptop. Entering a route number allows you to pick which direction you're interested in, but the list which appears is only ever for one of the directions and not the other. There's also always some text which says "Clear route", which seems to be indicating all is well, but is actually a link to go back and search again. As you can see from the example below, the juxtaposition is somewhat ambiguous.



If you're a regular bus user and want to know if your route has been suddenly affected by something, much better to be following @TfLBusAlerts on Twitter than forever digging into this digital brantub.

The next tab is Traffic, which looks like it works pretty well, although I'm not a driver so I never use it. Disruptions are shown on a map, colour-coded for severity, and also grouped by road corridor. I live near the A12 and the Blackwall Tunnel Approach, so I can check for roadworks, accidents and blockages near me with relative ease. Your experience of the the information's practicality would be interesting to hear, assuming you've ever used it.

The next tab is River Bus. Few Londoners ever need this one, but for those who do it's all here, and the presentation seems a model of simplicity.



The penultimate tab is for the Dangleway. If you're ever planning a swing across the Thames, how great to know that an entire page has been devoted to displaying whether it's open or not. Actually it's not quite that straightforward, because the status update still says Good service long after the close of operations in the evening, and the map continues to report "no major line disruptions" even when the service is closed due to high winds! It's not clear why the map is even necessary, given that there are only two terminals and if one's closed then so must the other be. Still, at least this sponsored trinket isn't clogging up the proper list in the first tab, so mustn't grumble.

The final tab is for National Rail, i.e all the trains in London which aren't TfL's responsibility, and this is where I'd suggest their webcoders have given up entirely.

It would be game-changing to have a digital overview of all the commuter lines in Greater London and be able to see which sections have delays or closures. It would be utterly brilliant to have a map showing where all the planned closures are this weekend, rather than them being hidden away on the individual operators websites, and would help avoid that annoying occurrence where you turn up somewhere in the suburbs only to find that the train you want's not running. Alas creating such a map would also be very difficult, certainly too difficult for whatever resources TfL threw at the problem, hence the webpage simply says "Status maps coming soon". It's been saying that for four years. It's not coming any time soon, they've walked away.



All that this page includes is a list of train companies and whether or not they currently have delays. Brilliantly, or ridiculously, this list includes every rail operator across the country, so even if services are disrupted in Scotland or the Isle of Wight, you'll see that here. But the list won't tell you what the problem actually is, only provide a link to a website where you can find out more. And that won't be the website of the operator concerned, because the TfL's coders couldn't be bothered to include anything so useful, instead it's always a link to the National Rail website. And it's not even the disruptions page on the National Rail website, it's the homepage, because this tab is a forgotten backwater and a total waste of space.

In summary, there is a reason why most people only ever look at the main summary on TfL's Status updates webpage, and that's because the other tabs are either over-complicated, somewhat obscure or entirely undeveloped. TfL know you don't normally look at them, so they're in no hurry to fix things or make them easier to use. Best stick to that app you like instead, I guess.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain
#coronavirus

read the archive
Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv