[Talk-GB] Rebooting the NAPTAN import?

SK53 on OSM SK53_osm at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Apr 4 22:41:37 BST 2011

On 04/04/2011 19:36, Stuart Grimshaw wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 4, 2011 at 4:31 PM, Ed Avis<eda at waniasset.com>  wrote:
>> What we seem to be edging towards is a mixed tagging of route_ref and relations,
>> being respectively the 'rough' and 'proper' way to tag bus routes, and the need
>> for some lint-like tool to reconcile the two - at least as far as migrating data
>> from route_ref to the ideal tagging.
> The problem with tagging routes on a map is that they change s often.
> We saw during Sheffield's Transport Hack Day this weekend when the
> guys from our local travel authority showed us how bus routes don't
> just change from month to month, they change depending on the time of
> day!
> Some routes stop after a certain time of day, or they follow a
> different route at weekends. They follow a different route for 1
> journey before or after school and they go to different stops because
> of roadworks.
> They publish 2 sets of data, 1 that includes all stops, and one that
> includes only the stops that are currently in use, however whichever
> set of data they use for their web based bus information, they get
> complaints from various people.
> To keep this information accurate you really would have to update it
> automatically, and given OSM's nature and the work people have done
> that might automatically be updated I'm not sure that would be an
> achievable goal.
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This is a common point made by UK & US Transport professionals, but I 
think it reflects their perspective as planners implementing changes. 
 From a passenger's perspective it helps to have a degree of continuity 
in service numbers and routes: not least because frequent change is a 
good way of ensuring loss of custom.

However, as Tom Chance says many bus routes stay more or less unchanged 
in essentials for decades. For instance Ed Parsons recently tweeted 
<http://twitter.com/edparsons/statuses/54086532159635456>about the 285 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Buses_route_285> having RATP decals 
on the buses, and I instantly knew the bus he wastalkign about. 
Wikipedia notes the one major route change I remember in 1994, when 
instead of going straight into Heathrow it did a big circuit on the 
N-side, which IIRC is why I stopped using it. Pretty stable. Elsewhere 
in London, the 16 red bus still runs up Edgware Road as it did in 1979, 
and the 154 along Stanley Park Road as it did in 1983.

Further afield the map in 1912 Baedeker is still pretty good for Zurich 
tram routes, although no. 1 died a long time ago.

The places where I follow bus changes with some degree of regularity 
might not be typical, but I think are adequately representative.

    * Nottingham has had *one* major change in service patterns since
      the demise of its tram network in late 1930s. This was under ten
      years ago when all routes changed to a hub-and-spoke system
      against the older cross-town routes. Since then there has been
      minor tweaking of the NCT network, and introduction of some
      smaller buses. At the moment there seems to be a flurry of new
      services being introduced by new operators which are far harder to
      keep track of than changes in the main existing routes.
    * Maidenhead & Windsor tends to see significant changes to route
      numbering every couple of years. However the basic routes have not
      changed significantly: most of the changes are attempts to find
      cross-town journeys which make reliable timetabling easier. The
      one route segment which was dropped was reintroduced fairly
      quickly. Country bus services are far more vulnerable to change
      and this usually just means dropping parts of the route or hitting
      service frequency.

I don't believe bus travellers are using (or will use) OSM for bus 
routing (CS types might, see talk-transit /passim/): but there is far 
too much attention focused on the actual journey, rather than using maps 
to gain an appreciation of the possible. I usually look at bus maps to 
a) see if the proposed destination is practicable by public transport; 
b) is that still true on the day in question (usually Sunday), and only 
then do I start looking at timetables. Somewhere like Switzerland I only 
really need a very basic map of the system and can then rely on 
Taktfahrplannung <http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taktfahrplan> to do the 
rest (see here <http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taktfahrplan> for a single 
sheet route map cum timetable for the SwissRailways). Sadly, the chances 
of having such a system in Britain are negligible. I'm with the German & 
Japanese folk that Chris Osbourne tweeted 

So my basic conclusion is that having the route with the more 
significant variants in OSM is perfectly adequate for what lots of 
people want to use the data for (its good enough). All the extras of 
late night services, shortened routes at certain times of day, school 
services, work services, shopping services, temporary route alterations  
are pretty much ephemeral to what we can and should do in OSM. This was 
why Steve Coast floated the transiki idea.


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