Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bring back the BIG BOLD TYPE .

The destination displays made by Hanover Displays are a good piece of kit that is used throughout the passenger transport industry all around the world. These destination displays can be programmed just how the operator wants, to make best use of these large screens that fit across the top of the windscreen in their buses and coaches.

For years now we have proudly displayed in a very large pitch the route number and final destination of the service we are running under contract for the nationwide company. Because of the size of these destination displays, anyone can see the route number and final destination from a very long way off. This is great for both passengers and staff, as you can spot your target coach a very long way off.

But now the nationwide company has had a bad idea and has ordered it's contractors to reprogramme the displays. All coaches must now display the other major destinations that the coach serves. The result of this means that the pitch of the route number and final destination has been reduced to half it's original size. I think this is a bad idea for 5 reasons.

The route number and final destination is half the original size. This makes the information only half as visible as before and everyone will not be able to spot it from a fair distance away.

What is the point of displaying destinations that the coach has already passed through earlier in the day? The history of the journey is of no use to intending passengers, they do not care where the coach has come from.

Passengers can read the "via somewhere text" and assume the coach is going there. This will not be the case if the coach is mid-route and has already gone through their destination. I can imagine the arguments with passengers particularly in Birmingham at 11.15 when they want to go to Leeds or Sheffield. I will tell them that their coach left at 11.00 and they will reply that my destination display shows via Leeds and Sheffield!

What is the point of showing passengers that their coach goes via Newport on the way to London? Passengers do not travel with the nationwide company between Cardiff and Newport because the local buses are more frequent and offer a better service. It is obvious to passengers waiting to board in Newport that the coach goes via Newport because they have bought a ticket in advance and are stood on the platform!

It is child's play to spot a route number and final destination of the service the passenger wishes to board. To display "via locations" is simply dumbing down and insulting the intelligence of the passenger! All tickets clearly show the route number of the service the passenger needs to board. Even if the passenger does not know one end of our country to the other, the driver will always tell the passenger that they want the coach going in the opposite direction if they make that silly mistake!

So, we now have destination displays that are only half as good as they were because the nationwide company has had a silly idea that was not thought through.
The 'via' locations confuse matters further. Say a coach leaves London and its first port of call is the largest place on its route, with all subsequent calling points much smaller and less patronised. The destination will, for the majority of the route, therefore, display a location through which the coach has passed many hours ago. This makes the display more ambiguous than stating just an ultimate destination.

It's also worth pointing out that TfL is in the process of introducing the exact opposite on its services - removing the vias for precisely the same reason as I detail above.

Admittedly NatEx clientelle are mainly on the look out for a service number and have already booked. DiPTAC rulings state capitalisation is not permitted as people with visual impairment sometimes cannot distinguish the letters easily when in CAPITALS and also the route number should be on the right as you look at the display (n/s) and not come first on the dispay (o/s).
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