11 January 2010

Non- (dis-?) integrated transport information

Overheard on a London to Bristol train this afternoon...

Passenger: Can you tell me what time I can use this off-peak ticket to come back tomorrow morning?
Train guard: I'll have to look it up for you. [Reaches for timetable book.]
Passenger: Oh, I thought it would be after 8.30.
Train guard: No, it's different times depending on where you are in the country. [Long pause.] There you are it's 8.15. You can use this ticket any time after that. There's one at 8.20.
Passenger: Thanks. It doesn't tell you that when you buy the ticket. It would help if it did.

There are so many pinch points on journeys on the UK rail network where just a little responsiveness could improve user experience. I checked whether the information the passenger needed could be found on the web, even if not at the ticket machine (one might argue that too much information could delay the ticket vending process). I couldn't find it on National Rail Enquiries' web site, either. Nor could National Rail's virtual assistant, Lisa, come to my aid. But the information was there, in the guard's timetable. So it could be made available, at the right time, in the right way, to passengers.

The exchange between guard and passenger lasted several minutes, delaying the guard in his progress down the train checking tickets. Good user experience not only creates confidence in a service, it also makes business sense.

No comments:

Post a Comment