The all new Google Maps
I’m constantly amazed at Google Maps, and really do love the latest version. The only downside (if I’m allowed to complain) is that it’s not quite as fast as the previous iteration, but it is showing a whole lot more.
Firstly it does what you’d expect, it offers a choice of routes (where there are sensible options). However these days, so many people are using Google Maps, that it also offers traffic advice. From experience it’s rather accurate too, a few weeks back it told me the traffic I was stuck in would delay me for 10 minutes – it was spot on, 10 minutes later I was motoring along on a clear road.
Another thing that Google Maps does superbly is diversions. Last time I was driving to Manchester it spotted there was traffic ahead, automatically calculated that leaving the motorway early and going through the country roads would be quicker, sent a spoken message to my smartphone and a single tap of the screen rerouted me.
It’s not just for driving with your smartphone though, log onto Google Maps on a computer and you get even more options. Yesterday I had to go to Bristol and as well as the road journey (1 hour, 10 minutes, but due to traffic it would currently take me 1 hour, 12 minutes), it also shows me the time by bus and the time by train. Click the bus or train route and Google already know what time your next departure is and even calculate my arrival time by working out how long it should take to walk to and from the bus stops.
If you think all that sounds good (or maybe you always use Google Maps and are familiar with it), it doesn’t stop there. Having checked my route (and traffic)on my laptop, as soon as I logged into Google Maps on my smartphone it’s remembered the last route I looked up and already has the postcode in Bristol as my suggested destination. Of course you have to be logged into Google on your computer for this to work, but it beats trying to type in a postcode on a tiny mobile keyboard any day.
Currently there is an option to return to the “Classic” version of Google Maps, but I’ll be keeping the new version.
(By the way, in case anyone’s wondering by I need Google Maps to get to Bristol…. I obviously know the way – straight up the M4! I just wanted to check the street I’ll be parking in).
I like the idea of Bus Times but and it is a very big but. Is that the time shown in the Official Timetable? or is it the actual time being achieved on that day.
I ask as while the Official Bus Timetable may show that the bus is due at say 5 minutes past the hour it could be up to 25 minutes or even more late due to traffic, road works or even the bus had a fault and they had had to change it.
Obviously if the bus had actually broken down then it may not arrive as some companies do not bother sending out a replacement just expecting the next bus on the route to pick up the stranded passengers.
Obviously I am talking about Rural Bus Routes where it is not unusual for a Bus Route to stretch for 20 or more miles across the countryside and penetrating into several potential traffic black spots such as Truro due to all the Road Works or Newquay with roads jammed solid with Holiday Traffic.
In other words the Bus Times quoted could almost be fictional. Certainly in my Village as the local Parish Councillor it often appears to be a case of just waiting until a bus turns up. Luckily we have quite a comfortable Bus Shelter for passengers to wait in.
You’re right: using the official timetables would be ludicrous. But this is the 21st century! Don’t you have real time electronic bus tracking down your way? (And lots of these B&H routes are rural too and snake for twenty miles.)
I can track the buses in Brighton and Hove on my phone. I can get a read out for my nearest bus stop on which buses are due when and it’s all online too. (I can actually get that information for any bus stop in the district.)
Now, of course, nothing is perfect. But a mash up with Google Maps would be interesting (if only the data was made freely available!).
Digital solutions for analogue problems.
Months ago we had in front of the Parish Council a County Council scheme for our Bus Stop in the Village. It consisted of several parts. One of which was the provision of an illuminated Bus indicator as to when the next bus was due.
In Truro at the Victoria Square Bus Stop (probably amongst the very busiest stops in the County)they had this equipment many moons ago. So I went to have a look at it. I must admit that it does appear to me to be just a listing of the Official Bus Times from the Timetable. Then I went there and the equipment was down. I went and had a look at it each time I was near. For something like 6 months the equipment was down.
Then finally I visited it again a couple of weeks ago and it was working again. The only thing is now the Buses bare no resemblence at all with what is on the screen. No idea what is going on. However maintaining the equipment and records may be affected by the Councils Cut Backs.
Anyway it appears as if sometime in the future we are going to get the equipment in the Village. Just hope that it works because otherwise it might be 6 months or more before the guy with the screwdriver turns up.
But my fears about the Bus Times remains. My guess is that we will get the Official Times from the timetable rather than what you have for Brighton and Hove.
Brighton & Hove buses are well ahead of the rest of the bus industry in this respect, but other operators such as Stagecoach will be using real time info on smartphone apps by 2015.
@Chris T: Its not really a good use of public money, if you only get the official times on a display.
London buses have an app and it is accurate.
In fact it is worse than that. I had to go to Truro on Sunday. Truro is currently a disaster zone with roads being ripped up all over the place for water, sewage and gas main renewals.
In addition Sunday the rest of Truro centre was coned off for a race of some sort. So I went in by bus only to find that bus stops were coned off. I was standing by the Bus Stop by the Museum(also has an illuminated bus indicator).
It showed one bus and a totally different bus turned up(but one that was near enough on time according to the Bus Timetable). So it does not even show the times according to the Official Bus Timetables.
I wonder if the rest of the country is closer to Brighton & Hove with 21st century technology or Cornwall with a typical shambles which no doubt costs a fortune to operate?