Wednesday, May 30, 2012

TransLink have a new journey planner

TransLink upgraded their journey planner on 29/05/2012. BrizCommuter took a quick look.

The best feature of the new journey planner is the google maps integration. This is particularly useful when a walk is required at either end of the journey, or a walk is required to transfer between services. A good example would be how to get to the entrance of The Prince Charles Hospital, which is served by multiple bus stops around the property. It may also be useful to find CBD stop locations due to TransLink's lack of signage. Extra functionality showing where buses actually are would be a nice addition given the unreliability of passenger information displays at bus stops. Also GPS tracking showing where you are on a bus route may also be a useful future addition for occasional users.

Screen shot of new TransLink journey planner.

The journey planner gives multiple route options, however after the first couple of suggested routes, the suggestions can become rather amusing and not for those in a hurry. It is also possible to see the status of the require bus routes, and "see alternative routes and times" which can show whole day timetables using multiple routes between two points. The journey planner also shows fares, which will probably be enough to make many drive instead.

Overall, the changes are good improvement in the right direction.


  1. Ugh.

    Yes, there are some good points, especially the maps, but then there's the bad points...

    I used to be able to enter my home address, work address, maximum walking distance (2km), and the results would show buses and trains. Now the exact same parameters show only buses - no trains to be seen, even when I untick the bus checkbox. To get trains to show up, I have to enter the name of a train station instead of the address I'm going to. This is annoying because it doesn't show me walking distance/time to the station, and it's useless if I don't know what is (or even IF there is) a station near my destination. I think they've screwed up their coding - that looks like a bug to me.

    I also find the new search results layout more difficult to use. I used to be able to see up to six options on a single page. Now, it's one option per tab and I have to keep moving back and forth between the tabs to compare them.

    And then there's the number of transfers in each suggested trip option... I used to be able to specify that I wanted zero transfers or to minimise the number of transfers. That's no longer possible. From my house to the city, there are several bus routes that require no transfers at all, and in the old journey planner I could see only those direct trips. Now, it will show me four options, of which one is a direct route, two involve one transfer (two buses per journey), and the final result has TWO transfers - it's suggesting that I catch a sequence of THREE buses to go from zone 2 into the city! That's just ludicrous!

    When I do manage to get the journey planner to show me trains, it shows only one or two options at once. It used to show several. Early this morning, I did what I usually do: specify that I want to leave some time after 7:45 am and catch a train. Instead of giving me five or six options as it used to do (all on one page!), it now shows me ONE train only (the one closest to 7:45). To see the train after that, I have to change the minimum leaving time to 8:00, and then to see the next train, I have to change the time again. Some leaving times result in two trains being presented at once, but more often it's just one. I found myself entering a sequence of leaving times one after the other, and then WRITING DOWN ON A PIECE OF PAPER each of the matching trains because I had to track down each train individually! I will of course be keeping that piece of paper, and will be picking up a paper timetable when I get a chance. Yes, TransLink have actually made their journey planner website LESS useful than a piece of paper.

    I do like some of their changes, but the good points are overwhelmed by the bugginess and lack of simple conveniences that used to be there.

    Yet another Brisbane public transport disappointment.

  2. If any one else is having trouble with the new journey planner, I encourage you to report the problems (repeatedly if need be!) by calling TransLink on 13 12 30 (say "operator" to reach a human who will record your complaint), or by using their feedback form:

    Hopefully if enough people do this, it will prompt them to fix some of the bugs and maybe even bring back some of the useful features they dropped.

  3. The new journey planner is terrible. The old version gave you the list of the next five possible journeys, no matter the specific route, all on one page, ordered by arrival time. It did of course give the details of the route, in case you didn't want to take a certain route for whatever reason, but it presented all of this information neatly and conveniently on a single page in one list.

    This new version has, for some reason, split it into separate routes -- so you have to check all of the possible times for Option 1, all of the possible times for Option 2, all of the possible times for Option 3 etc... which makes it incredibly frustrating to use! I don't particularly care which route I have to take, I just want to see all of my options for getting from A to B in a single list.

    It's even more frustrating when you are dealing with multiple train services that are, for most people, essentially the same route. For instance, if a user wants to head to Central from Petrie, Option 1 is CABR (Cabooluture to Brisbane City train), Option 2 is CAIP (Caboolture to Ipswich train). The user doesn't care where the train ends up after it's dropped them off at central -- the route from Petrie to Central is the same for both of these services, so for the user's part of the journey they are effectively the same service. Why should they be listed on separate pages?

    Possibly the most frustrating part though is the fact that TransLink have been promising for years that they would provide integration with Google Maps. Most people took this to mean they would give Google access to timetable data, so that they could provide transit directions within Google Maps itself -- a service Google already provides for Perth, Adelaide, and Cairns (not to mention countless others cities worldwide). Now that they've released their own new journey planner which incorporates Google Maps in a very minor way, it's likely that this was the plan they were referring to all along. This means the chances of us ever getting *actual* Google Maps integration are now slim to none.

  4. Here's an amusing example of just how messed up the new journey planner is:
    In brief, it suggests I catch one bus going in the WRONG direction for just HALF A BLOCK, transfer (in 6 minutes during peak hour) to a second bus (to which I could very easily have walked), then transfer (in just 4 minutes!) to a third bus - even though the second bus would have taken me where I wanted to go.

    This sort of idiotic result could be very easily avoided if TransLink would just bring back the option to specify zero or minimal transfers for your trip.

  5. Way to go Alys, put the boot in to a big improvement.

    As for your specific gripe about times, did you try clicking "show travel details" and "see all alternative times" ?

    Not sure what/why about the station/address. I've seen no such problems.

    1. Awfully defensive Simon. May I ask what you do for a living?

    2. Sorry Simon, I'm with most of the others here. The new JP is a huge regression, not an improvement. The UI is harder to use, and some of the results it throws up, and the ordering of the results, are bizarre.

    3. Just adding another voice to the dissent. I use public transport a lot and have used the journey planner frequently in planing travel for myself, family and even friends at times. I was so disappointed with the new version that I carefully documented all the lost functionality and individual cases where ludicrous results had been generated similar to the case Alys mentioned. The feedback page was offline (too busy?) so I spent half an hour on the phone with an operator carefully explaining my complaints. That was in June - nothing seems to have changed.


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