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Adventures in the Cardiff Bay by night…

There’s no better way to test bus information than in a strange town on a dark wet night…

A colleague and I had been to an evening report launch event at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. We emerged, not late, about 8pm, but it was raining and mighty dark. The bus we knew went back towards the city centre, the Cardiff Bus BayCar on the 6 route, wasn’t coming for 20 minutes. We looked around for a taxi – really nothing happening at all.

Then a bus zoomed around the roundabout in front of us and somewhat tentatively pulled in to the bus stop. We had been tentatively hanging around so it all looked a bit vague. The bus was the X8 going to Thornhill – a service run by New Adventure Travel, a contender service in the Cardiff area. Now, in my neck of the woods – South London – an ‘X’ bus means express. Neither of us had any idea where Thornhill is. So, was this bus any use to us?

However, my colleague talked to the driver. Super helpful, the app map was produced and after a lengthy chat it transpired the bus crossed right through the city centre within yards of our hotel. It transpires the ‘X’ in the bus number stand for cross – that is, cross-city. £1 fare so it was value for money all round and everyone happy.

This tale illustrates two themes that I talked about at the excellent ALBUM (yes, I dislike acronyms as well – the Association of Local Bus Company Managers) the next day. View my slides.

Getting bus information right and intuitive is difficult. However, the bus driver is, as our research shows, the key to a good journey rather than an okay one. Catching the bus must get simpler and simpler with each barrier getting reduced one by one, day by day. This is one of the things we plan to focus on for our campaign this year looking at bus passengers in the West Midlands.

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