Northern Ticket Machine Update Issues

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Jozhua, 14 Jul 2019.

  1. Jozhua

    Jozhua Member

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    Just missed my train at Manchester Victoria due to the ticket buying process taking longer than expected...

    They appear to have added considerably more menus to the ticket machines and ques of confused passengers have appeared as a result. The hitboxes for the elements seem to be out of sync with the actual menu items, meaning when you press something it selects something else...

    The menus are also to put it lightly... Hellish and add at least 2/3 more steps to simply purchasing a ticket. Northern's ticket machines have already been more complicated and slower than the machines of other operators and they appear to have made this problem worse...

    Wondering if anyone else has thoughts on this?
     
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  3. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Member

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    It seems to vary from machine to machine. There are definitely quick ones and slow ones
     
  4. CyrusWuff

    CyrusWuff Established Member

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    It's not just Northern. Chiltern use the same machines (having replaced their fleet of Shere FAST machines with them) and are getting the same update.

    Whilst the journey planner functionality is useful in some ways (e.g. letting you buy a restricted ticket early and selling Advance tickets), if you're not buying a "popular" ticket it takes at least three times longer to do so than on the original software.
     
  5. js517

    js517 Member

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    There are some truly appalling interfaces on some of the current machines. Earlier this year I had the misfortune to need to use the TVM at Garforth. In order to buy a day return to Hull (the destination of many trains from there) for immediate travel, the system required 17 button presses. This combined with the poor responsiveness of the touch screen (only about 1 in 4 presses worked) made for a very poor experience.

    Whoever is designing these things really needs to improve their user experience testing.
     
  6. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    What is the interface like for picking up tickets?
     
  7. Jozhua

    Jozhua Member

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    I was buying a "popular" ticket and still found it took three times longer than the previous software, which was still difficult to navigate in comparison to TVM's from other operators such as East Midlands Trains.

    The ones used by Southern and East Midlands may not be the newest, but have to be the gold standard in terms of UI. Nothing special, just works well.
     
  8. cactustwirly

    cactustwirly Established Member

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    The S&B ones might have the worst printers, but they have by far the best interface!
    Literally takes 30 seconds if that to buy a ticket.
     
  9. PR1Berske

    PR1Berske Established Member

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    The hitbox problem really needs to be resolved for these machines. I liken them to electronic jukeboxes positioned either too high/low or angled, causing the user to become inventive with how they turn their thumb. If the hitbox for a specific destination is such that the customer presses a town miles from where they want to be, then that's less than useless.

    Is the problem something to do with the size of the screens?
     
  10. Gems

    Gems Member

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    I'll tell you what. My commission has shot up in the past few weeks. Are people deserting these machines and returning to actually getting good advice off fellow humans?
     
  11. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I really don't understand why ATOC/RDG don't do something useful, and get together to design a standard national UI to be used on all machines, like SBB have despite the machines being operated by various organisations including some of the private narrow gauge lines.

    I don't believe any UK ticket machine has an acceptably good UI. I'm well used to the S&B one now, but it isn't intuitive, it's just that I'm used to it.
     
  12. _toommm_

    _toommm_ Established Member

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    Personally, I always prefer a ticket office, even if it's just a simple single or return. It's just a shame my local ticket office is Manchester Picc that has the bog roll tickets unless it's for my CountyCard...
     
  13. apinnard

    apinnard Member

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    Operating the carpark payment terminals at Bedford station is always a challenge. You have to poke the things so hard you end up with knackered fingers
     
  14. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I'd imagine so, you'll get a parallax effect if you are looking down at one.

    The big screens are a nuisance - they really don't bring any benefit. OK, you can adjust the screen height, but the regular S&B style "lowish down but pointing slightly upwards" seems to work for most people.
     
  15. satisnek

    satisnek Member

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    I've noticed that TVMs in the Midlands now feature an idiotic pop-up/overlay which serves no purpose other than to add one extra button press.
     
  16. johntea

    johntea Established Member

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    "There is a cheaper fare available : SENIOR RAILCARD DISCOUNT"

    Thanks for the offer, but I'm not quite at that stage of my life yet!
     
  17. tarq

    tarq Member

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    Couldn’t agree more. NS had a very intuitive UI but it looks like they have just overhauled it again. Perhaps we could learn from their experience?

    http://www.freektrimbach.nu/portfolio/item-5-2-2-2/
     
  18. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    I've said for goodness knows how long that we need a better UI, and standardisation across different manufacturers (the example I used to give was Sky having a standard UI despite who made the box).

    The above video is an excellent example of making things more simple while still managing to offer a load of options. Too often the thinking is that you keep things simple by removing options (then over time, you add options and it gets cluttered as you didn't plan for it from the outset).
     
  19. Harpers Tate

    Harpers Tate Established Member

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    [cynic]Specially redesigned to increase the opportunity for hapless innocent customers to be hammered by undiscounted and/or penalty fares sold on board, or nabbed by RPIs at destination. [/cynic]
     
  20. exesoundtech

    exesoundtech Member

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    Of course, these TVMs are the much requested (in these parts anyway) "Trainline TVMs" in that they sell pretty much everything a website does. I guess this is the old chestnut of not being able to have one's cake and eat it, as more choice of tickets will inevitably mean more questions/screen presses. Especially in the brave new world of Advance Purchase On the Day tickets, which I understand the updated machines will sell.
     
    Last edited: 15 Jul 2019
  21. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    [realist]Or perhaps a symptom of an overly convoluted, and for most punters staggeringly confusing pricing structure across the network, and as a result trying to make the user interfaces (UI) of both web portals and TVMs as simple as possible, but yet offer the most choice an almost impossible task.[/realist]

    I must admit I came across one of the revised versions at Shipley the other week, and yes more screen presses are needed. But what struck me most is that is was much more like the web portals, and as the poster above says gives the customer more choice, which is what I believe many here wanted? As a developer who does design UIs as part of my work, I will readily confess I would never want to the bod who tries to come up with the "perfect" UI for our rail network. That's a job I'm sure would have even the greatest developers ending up weeping into their coffee....
     
  22. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I don't think the railway (on that side of things) is competent enough to be wilfully doing that. Never assume conspiracy...
     
  23. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    But plenty of the online sales systems are simple enough. I've been calling for a "Trainline machine" for years. Some of them do have that kind of functionality, but compared to the online systems they are typically highly nasty to use.

    The functionality requirement is almost identical to a mobile phone app - yet the UI is never anything like as good as, say, the Trainline app which is actually quite good.
     
  24. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    But why is the UI typically much poorer than any of the online sales sites or apps despite the requirement being basically identical?

    (I do think selling via a journey planner is the way to go for most people, though an expert button might be useful for some)
     
  25. Harpers Tate

    Harpers Tate Established Member

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    Yes, probably right!
     
  26. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    I must admit I've never ordered a ticket through a mobile app, although I have used various web engines to order tickets. Quite why developers haven't yet tried mirror a mobile UI I am unsure, but I suspect there would be people unhappy using those too.

    What is needed is a single agreed design across the network, regardless of operator. Then if changes are needed they can be trialled & rolled out as one.
     
  27. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    I think that the best idea is a home screen that instead of saying 'press here' or having a list of ten popular fares, is to have an initial wizard style menu that offers help for buying a ticket, ticket collection and an 'expert' menu for those who know exactly what they want.

    Some TVMs now have barcode readers, and it wouldn't be impossible for a machine to be able to read a code from an app to quickly select what has been prepared in advance - but where someone would like to use the machine to pay (such as by cash).

    There's loads that can be done and making the UI similar to a mobile app or web app is sensible because most people are now used to that style, young and old.

    It should definitely be standardised, with limited scope for customisation (TOC logo, colour scheme and little else).
     
  28. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I wouldn't even allow that - brand everything National Rail.
     
  29. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    That would work too.
     
  30. slipdigby

    slipdigby Member

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    Absolutely - 16 step of dialogue boxes to buy an Off Peak Return to Preston the other week. Should be a third (or ideally a quarter) of that number...
     
  31. NorthernSpirit

    NorthernSpirit On Moderation

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    I'd go one step further, I'd rip out these "videowall" machines and instead install Permit To Travel machines instead however at some stations replace the coin slot with a chip and pin reader.

    Less hassle as one only has to pay 5p before coughing up the rest to the guard / gateline staff.
     

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