Thursday, 19 January 2012

Don't Let Google Drive You Round The Bend

If you are trying to find your way around Tyneside, then frankly it probably best not to rely on Google.

Nexus, which is Tyne and Wear's local PTE, have been moved to make this warning to passengers looking for accurate travel advice on North East bus services and the Metro and who might be tempted to give a new ‘public transport’ route finder launched through Google Maps a try.

In fact, staff at Nexus were just as keen to try this latest addition to the Google stable, but they quickly discovered that the advice on offer was, well... variable to say the least.

For example, when asked for advice for a journey from Newcastle to Tynemouth, Google chose to completely ignore the many, many buses which run the nine miles between the two and instead rather bizarrely advised that you catch a National Express coach leaving seven hours later as far as North Shields, then walking the remaining mile. In the rain, presumably.

And for the short journey from Newcastle to Blaydon, home of the historic Blaydon races and barely six miles distant, Google advised that you catch one of only two trains a day to call at Blaydon railway station - and wait five hours to do so – rather than catching any one of the 10 buses an hour which Go North East operate between the two.

And anyone unlucky enough to want to travel from Gateshead to the nearby Team Valley Trading Estate, which is one of the UK's biggest industrial estates and home to literally thousands of jobs, is even more unlucky because Google will tel you that there is no public transport at all. In fact, it's one of Go North East's busiest routes with up to ten buses an hour. I mean, how do they think people get to work?

In fact, Google Maps successfully provided the right travel information on only one out of every seven journeys entered into it. The only journey which it did seem to get right was from Newcastle city centre to Sunderland railway station, which it correctly said could be made by Metro from Central station. Or train.

Ever get the feeling there's something missing?

Yep. Google has somehow entirely omitted every single bus service on Tyneside and most Metro journeys from its journey planner. From this you might assume that Google's employees don't travel by bus or Metro, or frankly even recognise their existence.

Or could it be that local bus operators have chosen not to advertise on Google?

However, every cloud has a silver lining and Google's ignominious failings have given Nexus the perfect excuse to plug the excellent journey planning tools their have on their own splendid website.

“This now includes MyTravel – a new service where you can find your nearest bus or Metro stop on a local map and see the next departures from it, as well as a journey planner where you can enter start and end points,” says Tobyn Hughes, Director of Customer Services, who also happened to mention that has both a conventional and mobile-adapted website for people on the go, and that people can also call North East Traveline on 0871 200 22 33 to speak to an operator if they prefer the human touch.

Yes, yes, thank you Tobyn...

I think you could say that was Nexus 1, Google nil....

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