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How to buy a bus ticket in England

#1 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2023-July-05, 11:34

Next week I am starting a new job in Alderly Park which is a large business park near Manchester. So I explored the options of getting there with public transport.

1: I checked google maps and traveline to learn that it was impossible to arrive there before 9.50, and it would involve a 45 minutes or so wait for the bus at a train station.
2: Checking the google maps just from the nearest train station revealed that a 48 minutes walk would actually be the fastest option. Taking my bicycle with me in the train during rush hours is a bit anti-social, and it might be raining.
3: Checking the business park's own website revealed that there's actually a shuttle bus not listed on traveline and google maps, albeit with just two morning rides to the business park, and presumable also two afternoon rides back to the station, although the later were not indicated on the website. I would have to download the app of the bus company that operates that specific shuttle, using google play.
4: A Google play search didn't lead to anything so I had to open the business park website on my phone and follow the link from there.
5: After selecting the ticket I wanted, I needed to check out. The app claimed that I was not authorised to use google pay (which I do use for other apps), so I needed to enter my debit card number. Unfortunately, switching back and forth between my bank app and the bus app to collect my debit card info made the app crash, so I had to write down my DC details so that I could enter them in the bus app without having to switch between apps
6: The app claimed that my card number was inconsistent with my zip (sic) code. I retried a few times to no avail. The fact that it was called a zip code might suggest that it is an app for the American market so it doesn't understand UK post codes?
7: I emailed my HR manager, asking if the company has bus tickets I could use as I seemed unable to buy a ticket myself. She asked a colleague who used it and had no problem, but that person used Apple Pay instead of google.
8: I emailed the business park's transport service who forwarded my email to the app developer.
9: In the meantime I found myself in the gym so I was now on a different IP address, so maybe that would make a difference. After three additional attempts I managed to buy a ticket using something called "link" which is apparently something similar to PayPal. I found it a bit scary to give my DC details to a company I had never heard about before. But apparently it worked, as I received an email with my ticket.
10: I also had to book the travel in addition to buying the ticket but that was reasonably smooth.
11: I emailed the app developer telling them that they could close the ticket, I received an acknowledgement from one app developer staff cc'd to another app developer staff.

In total, 8 people (if I count correctly) were involved in this purchase of a bus ticket worth GBP 2.49. When the UK government moan about the low productivity of British workers, I have some suggestions for what aspects of the economy that are prime candidates for productivity boosts.

Disclaimer: I didn't write this rant during paid hours but that's just because I am in-between two jobs this week.
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#2 User is offline   mw64ahw 

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Posted 2023-July-05, 11:49

Well persevered
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#3 User is offline   TMorris 

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Posted 2023-July-05, 13:02

As a general rule I find customers are more and more being considered rather a nuisance in the UK. Getting a reply in a timely manner from a business is starting to become a surprise. Some noteable exceptions of course but they are getting fewer.
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#4 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2023-July-05, 16:17

Completely predictable: You could have stopped after "I took a job in a business park in Manchester".
As they say up North, when there's trouble at mill, nobody expects the Spanish inquisition,
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#5 User is offline   FelicityR 

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Posted 2023-July-06, 08:18

I had to reply to this. If only you knew, Helene, that most bus companies in the UK have a credit/debit card swipe where you swipe where you get on, and swipe where you get off and GPS does the rest working out your journey and debiting accordingly, or alternatively you can pay for a paper ticket from the driver using a card. There are even bus companies that still issue tickets with cash and give change!

Good luck with your new job.
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#6 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2023-July-06, 09:12

 FelicityR, on 2023-July-06, 08:18, said:

I had to reply to this. If only you knew, Helene, that most bus companies in the UK have a credit/debit card swipe where you swipe where you get on, and swipe where you get off and GPS does the rest working out your journey and debiting accordingly, or alternatively you can pay for a paper ticket from the driver using a card. There are even bus companies that still issue tickets with cash and give change!

Yes, the normal buses I can use, paying with contactless in the bus. Coaches and trains are a bit more painful but the payment side of it has rarely been a problem.

This particular bus, however, can only be used with the app as described.

Quote

Good luck with your new job.

Thanks :)
The world would be such a happy place, if only everyone played Acol :) --- TramTicket
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#7 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-July-06, 14:35

Hi Felicity!

Helene_T, I share your pain otherwise, but:

 helene_t, on 2023-July-05, 11:34, said:

Taking my bicycle with me in the train during rush hours is a bit anti-social, and it might be raining.

- taking a bicycle in the train is both sensible and environmentally sustainable, let the train companies give more space during rush hours
- after a few months in Manchester you will wonder why you worried that it might be raining or that it was a real problem :)
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#8 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2023-July-06, 19:05

Good luck with your new job and the transportation challenges, Helene.
I look forward to seeing where next you pop up in the world.
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#9 User is offline   FelicityR 

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Posted 2023-July-07, 03:24

 helene_t, on 2023-July-06, 09:12, said:

Yes, the normal buses I can use, paying with contactless in the bus. Coaches and trains are a bit more painful but the payment side of it has rarely been a problem.

This particular bus, however, can only be used with the app as described


And what happens when you still have an old-fashioned phone, like my husband uses? He went into a pub recently, and they only accept cards, but he had his debit card on him thankfully! Still grumbled that he couldn't pay cash.

Given that there are no inspectors on buses anymore - well none that I have seen for years - is a bus driver going to refuse cash? I do find it strange that any bus company insists that you have to download an app for a £2.49 journey. Technology gone mad, in my opinion.

And goodness, how British and pedantic: £2.49! Most groceries in the shops are rounded up to nearest 5p I find. The idea of having items priced at 49p and 99p, in days gone by, is that the cashier has to register the transaction and open the till (except if they are given the exact money) and give change.
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#10 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2023-July-07, 04:38

 FelicityR, on 2023-July-07, 03:24, said:

And what happens when you still have an old-fashioned phone, like my husband uses?

He could have a friend buy the ticket and print a screenshot of the QR code.

But more likely he would just take a taxi, like I would have done if I had been a normal person :)
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#11 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2023-July-08, 13:18

Today's fiasco:

How many mobile apps does it take to turn a lightbulb on?

We just bought a smart bulb, one of those bulbs whose colour can be controlled remotely. To our disappointment, the bulb didn't come with its own remote control. I would have to download a phone app which would work as a remote control.

I launched the app and it told me that my Wifi router is 5.0 GHz and I would have to change it to 2.4 GHz to make it compatible with the bulb.

I am not sure that is possible with our router but anyway I am not going to halve our wifi speed for the sake of a silly lightbulb. I will give the bulb back to the shop tomorrow.
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#12 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2023-July-08, 14:44

 helene_t, on 2023-July-08, 13:18, said:

I launched the app and it told me that my Wifi router is 5.0 GHz and I would have to change it to 2.4 GHz to make it compatible with the bulb.


I thought most routers today have both 2.4 and 5 GHz. You have to go into your router setup and check the settings. There are separate settings for 2.4 and 5 GHz networks, with separate names and separate passwords. You can enable either or both networks, assuming your router supports both. Then connect to the 2.4GHz network instead of the 5GHz that you are currently connected to.
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#13 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2023-July-08, 15:15

 johnu, on 2023-July-08, 14:44, said:

I thought most routers today have both 2.4 and 5 GHz. You have to go into your router setup and check the settings. There are separate settings for 2.4 and 5 GHz networks, with separate names and separate passwords. You can enable either or both networks, assuming your router supports both. Then connect to the 2.4GHz network instead of the 5GHz that you are currently connected to.

Ah right, then I could use 2.4 with the phone that controls the bulb, and 5.0 for my computer? Thanks!
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#14 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2023-July-08, 17:54

 helene_t, on 2023-July-08, 15:15, said:

Ah right, then I could use 2.4 with the phone that controls the bulb, and 5.0 for my computer? Thanks!

Yes you can.

The 2.4 GHz has better range (e.g. better penetration of walls, etc) while the 5 GHz has can handle more speed/capacity. Whether you can notice the difference depends on how fast your internet is. I have moderate speed internet so I haven't noticed any speed differences between my 2.4 and 5 GHz networks. If you have the fastest gigabit internet, then you may be able to tell, or not since that's really fast. You're more likely to notice the lesser range of 5 GHz if you live in a big multistory house with lots of walls and distance from the router, but then you might need a mesh router to get best coverage.
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#15 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2023-August-04, 04:25

Update:

I only used the bus once. In the morning I just took the 45 minutes walk, in the afternoon there was no information on the app or elsewhere on the estimated departure time but a fellow passenger said that it is always on time. We were the only two passengers. 5 minutes after we had departed, the app notified me that the bus was actually going.

Since then I have been using my bicycle. The receptionist said that I needed to install an app to get access to the bicycle storage and that my HR represenatative would need to arrange for me to get a password so I could lock into the shed. So far I have just taken my bicycle to the office but I think that next week I might manage to get into the storage facility. A colleague who also comes on bicycle says that almost nobody is using the storage so it won't be a problem to find space for my bicycle.
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#16 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2023-August-04, 06:02

 helene_t, on 2023-August-04, 04:25, said:

Update:

I only used the bus once. In the morning I just took the 45 minutes walk, in the afternoon there was no information on the app or elsewhere on the estimated departure time but a fellow passenger said that it is always on time. We were the only two passengers. 5 minutes after we had departed, the app notified me that the bus was actually going.

Since then I have been using my bicycle. The receptionist said that I needed to install an app to get access to the bicycle storage and that my HR represenatative would need to arrange for me to get a password so I could lock into the shed. So far I have just taken my bicycle to the office but I think that next week I might manage to get into the storage facility. A colleague who also comes on bicycle says that almost nobody is using the storage so it won't be a problem to find space for my bicycle.


I think it's time for you to read "The Third Policeman" by Flann O'Brien
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#17 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-August-04, 15:52

 pilowsky, on 2023-August-04, 06:02, said:

I think it's time for you to read "The Third Policeman" by Flann O'Brien


Or simply get used to Manchester and Mancunians.
I used to commute from Whalley Range to Stockport by bicyle in light rain or bus in heavy rain, but some used cars even then.
A colleague left work in the evening and was about to call the police when he couldn't find his car... then spotted it on the office roof.
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