Thursday, July 14, 2005

Connex: "Oh yeah, it is stuffed!"

At last I was able to prove to Connex tonight that their text messaging service that alerts passengers to delays is often misleading -or, even worse, plain wrong.

When I got this text message at 5.09pm..(The actual) message was timed 16:56)
Due to a technical fault, train services in both directions on the Western line are delayed by approx. 15 minutes.
...I stopped running briskly for the 5.23pm trip to New Lynn from Britomart.
Then to my horror, with my feet on the top of the escalator down to the platform, I saw the 5.23 disappearing on its way West. This at 5.24pm.

The train had left on time.

Furious, I stormed in the direction of the control room.

I asked the guy if trains on the Western Line were running on time.
He look at his sheet: "Yes they are."
In both directions: "Yes."
I told him rather loudly that the 16:56 txt message said trains were delayed, hence I was delayed. And that this happens all the time.
So did the ARC sent out these messages or Connex or Maxx or an idiot?
"We do."
Connex? "Yes."
Who writes them:
"I do."
OK, well your latest messages says the trains in both directions are running late.
"Yes but you didn't read it right. You need to scroll down to the end of the message where it says "Trains leaving Britomart ontime."
I told him he was wrong and we argued for a while until I found the message on the phone.
I asked him what was then meant by the words both directions because in my mind -unless a train is derailed or (heaven forbid) blown up by a 16 year old Luton kid - both directions meant trains go to Britomart and leave Britomart. At least the ones I have used for the last year went only in those two directions. So what other directions was the message meaning?
By this time, I had found the message.I read it to him, then showed it to him and asked him to read it aloud.
"Oh, we'll I didn't write that one."
Ahh, a hacked message perhaps?
So where do you get the information about trains running late? "Train control tell us."
I said regular passengers like me are fed up of misleading messages, incorrect messages, hard to understand messages and messages arriving late adding to the confusion (the latter problem I acknowledged was the telcos sending out messages not Connex).
He said there was some awareness in Connex the txt service was not running well and they were examinging how to make it better including making it cleaer and faster.
He suggested I raise my concerns directly with Connex head office to speed up the process and make them aware of the wide passenger frustration I mentioned.

I told him I would call him as a witness that incorrect messages are going out -and he agreed.

So progress of sorts.

I should say this man was very polite and trying to be helpful and seemed genuinely shocked to find what he thought had gone out was a different message in reality.

I actually apologised to the poor guy who is only trying to do his job and said my anger was not directed at him. On the whole I have found Connex staff like him most polite.
We all need to ring Connex head office and tell them if they're going to run a txt message, they urgently need to start getting it right.

Or I will sue them for missing my train!

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