Message from discussion Alan Williams column - point for discussion
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From: Roland Perry <rol...@perry.co.uk>
Subject: Re: Alan Williams column - point for discussion
Date: Sat, 2 Jun 2012 15:17:01 +0100
Organization: Roland Perry
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In message <7cvjs7hrl5b2h7ofc7ueohah3ekf6hg...@4ax.com>, at 13:29:29 on
Sat, 2 Jun 2012, Paul Corfield <aoo...@dsl.pipex.com> remarked:
>>>I don't really see that removing free travel from railway staff is the
>>>answer to fixing a dysfunctional ticketing system.
>>If it means they complain to the people who might be able to make a
>>difference to the ticketing system (by which I mean some general
>>easier-to-use-ness not price necessarily) that would help.
><takes life in hands by replying to Mr Perry>
We need to be clear about one thing... I'm not suggesting, at all, that
free travel is removed, just that it is offered by way of refunding
people for the tickets they bought, rather than giving them a "get out
of ticketing jail free" card.
>It might help. It all depends on what the issue is and what the root
>cause of any issue is. If certain things have to be done because of
>industry standards then that might be outwith the immediate control of
>a TOC to resolve quickly. Sure the standards issue can be tackled too
>but it may take a while to fix. Simpler problems could be fixed if
>they are within the TOC's control.
If the issue can't be solved quickly, then perhaps the "fare offering"
causing the problem should be withdrawn. Because passengers will be
encountering the issue every day.
If withdrawing it is embarrassing, that's exactly the incentive needed
to make sure things are tested/thought-through properly before being
released in the wild.
>>For example, issue EMT staff working in Derby with a Smartcard and tell
>>them you'll re-imburse them at the end of the month. They'll soon
>>find whoever it is in their system is responsible for the Smartcard
>>ticketing machines only issuing Child tickets (irrespective of your
>>age). And they might do it in days, rather than the months it's been
>>going on without being sorted.
>>If I was an EMT manager involved in service design or delivery at Derby,
>>I'd do this for my own travel as matter of course. How dare they foist a
>>system on the public without testing it by using it themselves.
>Well there are two issues here. The Child ticket thing is stupid and
>should have been found during testing prior to any public
>introduction. That is not a fault in the ticketing system per se - it
>is a problem either with EMT or ITSO or Rail Settlement Plan or the
>technology supplier or whatever consultants are being employed or some
>combination of these parties.
They should withdraw the trial until it's sorted. Or re-brand it as a
"trial for children only". See "embarrassment", above.
>Removing free travel won't fix the root
>cause as to why shoddy technology was let into the public domain. I
>accept more management oversight might have detected the problem
>sooner as you suggest. Whether the problem would have been resolved
>faster is open to debate as we do not know what the root cause is.
I'm sure it would have been brought to the attention of management
sooner. When I discussed this with the staff at Nottingham Station, they
were completely clueless (in a nice way) about the entire scheme, which
they had decided to "tune out".
>>Just like when I used to run ISPs in the 90's, the first thing I'd do
>>when I got home in the evening was dial it up and see if it was still
>>working, using exactly the same phone lines, modems and software as
>>customers. And woe betide the sysadmins if it wasn't!
>Fine but not everyone has your personal dedication or commitment to
>their job. That's life. It still does not mean that removing free
>travel means a perfect ticketing system will result.
Indeed. But "re-imbursed travel" might get many of these things fixed
>A number of years ago I took part in an exercise with fellow senior
>managers at LUL. It was supposed to give us insight into the
>passenger's viewpoint and that of front line staff. One element of
>the exercise was to travel to a specified station and buy a ticket for
>cash. I recall the level of shock amongst the managers with me when
>they saw the cost of a cash ticket. They were also did not know how
>to use a ticket machine.
Another one of the things my scheme would cure, hopefully.
> I did know the price and how to use the
>machine but then I keep myself informed on that stuff and I was
>involved in the specification of the machines. I am not sure that
>that exercise created any great revolution in the level of LU fares or
>how our ticket machines work.
If they were faced with it every day, it might.
>> You'd also have a rule that said if you couldn't buy the ticket you
>>needed, in the way you were supposed to be able to, that you should pay
>>cash and get reimbursed daily, but only after filling in a 10 page
>>questionnaire. That should get a bit wearisome by the end of the week!
>Well that's just you being extreme because you're pissed off about the
>EMT Smartcard deployment.
I don't care at a personal level, because I don't currently need to buy
any of these smartcard tickets (other than going through the motions as
a hobby to see how it's working). But I do worry that from a wider
perspective that it has the potential to reduce the public's confidence
in "new ticketing schemes", and that isn't good either for technologists
or for the railways.