Northern Ticket Machine Update Issues

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

  1. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    No and I doubt it is for the installers either ;)

    What governs the positioning of the machines is access to services and suitable location to "mount" the machine base
     
  2. ALEMASTER

    ALEMASTER Member

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    An issue that turned up at Dore & Totley Station this morning involved the slightly late running 08:28 towards Norwich. Customers attempting to buy tickets for this train last minute found the journey planner showed the next available train being 09:58 and refused to sell a ticket for the 08:28, and with 09:58 being off peak it only offered off peak tickets!

    The entire queue of passengers gave up attempting to buy a ticket and decided to get on the train and buy from the conductor instead, so one of the regulars who pays cash suggested everyone got a promise to pay voucher from the machine. He got his fine,I then tried to get one and the touch screen just became unresponsive mid process. The conductor never came round to collect fares anyway.

    There was a general view of the process being complicated, difficult to understand and slow. Perhaps have a seperate option for 'buy ticket in advance' which uses the journey planner and have an immediate travel quick buy option for walk up fares.

    Other thing is lack of rover/ranger type tickets on the machine. In South Yorkshire we have the Travelmaster ticket scheme across all public transport where you buy a daily or weekly pass valid on all buses, trams and trains. For some customers this is the best value option for their journey yet Northern's self service machines cannot sell them - a conductor can though!
     
    Last edited: 19 Jul 2019
  3. DelW

    DelW Member

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    Where a station is busy enough to justify multiple machines, a combination of simple "tickets to travel now" machines, and more complicated "all options" machines, seems to work quite well.

    I often buy tickets for future travel during my lunch break from work. I used to use the station ticket office for this, but there's usually a queue so I felt a bit awkward, especially if buying multiple or complicated tickets, that I was holding up others in the queue who might be needing a ticket to catch an imminent train.

    However, I've now realised that there is one machine (out of five, I think) that will do what I want (tickets for future day/time, starting from a different station, with railcard discount), so I use that. I don't worry if it takes a little while to work through the various screens, as I'm not delaying anyone wanting a ticket for immediate travel, who can use one of the four(?) other simpler machines.
     
  4. takno

    takno Established Member

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    Doing some sums on the back of a fag packet, I reckon that's about 4 years for a reasonably well-used machine. Less than half that if the flow for buying tickets is more complex now and you want the screen to show info or adverts when it's not vending. If my numbers are anywhere near accurate you wouldn't want to put them in anyway
     
  5. ALEMASTER

    ALEMASTER Member

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    I think at bigger stations that kind of thing makes sense. For example at Sheffield EMT have two separate banks on machines on the main concourse, one for selling tickets and the other for collecting prebooked tickets.

    In the example of Dore & Totley, it is a small unstaffed suburban station and only has 1 TVM and a penalty fare scheme.
     
  6. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I'm not sure it does. Just have them all the same and have the first screen being a button to choose between the simple and complex options.
     
  7. ALEMASTER

    ALEMASTER Member

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    it makes sense more from a point of view of managing queues, of course all machines should be capable of everything with the default being a simple menu navigation via whichever path.
     
  8. Jozhua

    Jozhua Member

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    I edited the thread title slightly, from "terrible" to "issues" as I feel it might be a bit more suitable for the thread.

    Also I feel bad knowing the people responsible for creating the update actually see it...
     
  9. Lytham Local

    Lytham Local Member

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    Don't be. Feedback - positive and negative is needed and hopefully the feedback that is provided on this site is taken on board. I wonder how realistic the conditions that the testing team work in - for example, can they buy a ticket in 30 seconds while someone shines a torch in their face and on the screen and someone else constantly moans and tutts at them? If they can't then how can TOC's expect their customers to be able to do it?
     
  10. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    The trouble with "focus groups" is that they tend to self-select.

    What they needed to do (and maybe the poster from Northern can tell us if they did) is to install them at one station (without any of the old type that people could just fall back on - as if those were there the people who will "have a go" again self-select as the more IT-competent) and see what happened. Have a member of staff there watching from afar to intervene, get feedback and flog a ticket for them if they really get stuck.
     
  11. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Established Member

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    Spot on. Some ‘soak testing’ would be a good idea too. This would accurately simulate a thunderstorm next to the machine, with company testers lightly clothed as if they had just been dropped off from a comfy car or taxi. Then a ‘design freeze’ with testers muffled up in thick gloves in temperatures several degrees below zero. These would accurately reflect real world conditions at many Northern stations for a material proportion of the time.
     
    Last edited: 17 Jul 2019
  12. Jozhua

    Jozhua Member

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    To be fair, yes. It's only a one word change, mostly to make the thread title more relevant.

    Been as I only used this machine in a rush, with little familiarity, I don't know how much more feedback I can give. However, bearing in mind that this is how most customers will use them, then it is likely as much feedback as matters! It didn't help that two out of the four machines were broken at Victoria, meaning I had to que behind people taking longer than usual to buy a ticket, before my somewhat confusing ticket buying experience. If it turns out the only way of meeting the requirements for the machines means a slower experience for passengers, then it could help to have more machines so large ques don't build up, compounding the issues.

    Was the software "beta" tested in actual stations before release, to gauge passenger response, or did the testing primarily rely on the focus groups? To be fair though, at least everyone on the forum has been able to input some constructive ideas into improvements before it is completely rolled out, although it may be too late to make adjustments before it hits all the ticket machines!

    I definitely think the software developers of all ticketing systems, even outside of Northern, could do with testing out their systems in a similar environment to the one it will be used in, as different situations can present very different challenges. I think other user's suggestions of a mixture of "quick ticketing" and "advance ticketing" could really help! Although in an ideal world we would all leave a good amount of time before boarding the train, we are all subject to delays, self inflicted or even from other journeys on public transport and making sure a passenger can transit through the station quickly in these situations would vastly improve the passenger experience for a lot of people.
     
  13. Killingworth

    Killingworth Established Member

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    If buying a ticket at Dore it's well known that almost every train is late. The one exception is the 7.57 that's allowed 17 minutes from Grindleford when some are allowed only 8 or 9. The EMT 8.28 is relied on by many who miss Northern's 8.24 when it's on time - that departed at 8.28 today with the 8.28 going at 8.34. Dore is one of the Hope Valley stations that are all in the worst 100 in the country for punctuality according to On Time Trains.

    Tickets are very rarely checked between Dore and Sheffield and not towards Manchester until after Edale on many trains.
     
  14. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Exactly right. And when it changes - you will get caught out all over again.
     
  15. M!T

    M!T Member

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    Regarding the machine opposite the ticket office at Bingley station...

    One Friday I was heading to Leeds having finished work nearby at 15:30. The next train to Leeds would depart at 16:07 so I'd need a peak ticket (peak kicks in at 16:00) but because it wasn't yet 16:00 the machine defaulted to offering an off peak ticket. I knew I'd need a peak ticket so I navigated to the sub-menu where I could select a peak ticket but, even then, it gave me a warning that a cheaper ticket was available and tried to sell me an off peak ticket! In the end I started to doubt myself, gave up, and went to the ticket office to buy one instead. I'm a relatively train savvy person but I can imagine someone less so ending up with the wrong ticket due to the poor UX of these machines and then, no doubt, being treated like they're trying to pull a fast one once they present their ticket for examination to the conductor on the train.

    Also, it doesn't appear possible to pay with contactless on this machine. There's a panel with a contactless symbol on it and it appears to light up blue when you reach the payment stage, but presenting my card or my phone to the panel results in nothing happening. It might not sound like much but, during the morning rush when a lot of people are queueing to buy tickets, the ability, or otherwise, to pay with contactless might be the difference between some people in the queue catching or missing their train.

    Northernman talked earlier in the thread of focus groups and stakeholder groups but do they employ User Researchers, UX Designers and conduct any user testing with real users? This kind of forward thinking, user-centric approach is highly prevalent in the tech sector but in well established (read old fashioned and slow to evolve) sectors, such as transport, that are increasingly (and somewhat reluctantly it would appear) using tech, it doesn't appear to have sunk in yet.
     
    Last edited: 17 Jul 2019
  16. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    First time I used an S&B machine I omitted to apply Railcard discount, it confused me so much. And I'm an IT professional. It's a quick UI to use when you know it, but first time it's quite poor (the "vi" of TVMs?) - the Shere FastTicket one is probably the best for a novice user, but those are dying out.
     
  17. js517

    js517 Member

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    It would be interesting to know what some of the targets are for interactions with these TVMs.

    e.g.
    Average interaction count to purchase completion
    Maximum interaction count to purchase completion
    Average time to purchase completion
    Abandoned purchase rate
     
  18. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    You'll not see an EMT guard checking tickets on that train towards Sheffield from Dore because they have to get packed up and ready to change ends with the driver in a maximum 4 minutes or so at Sheffield along with major station arrival announcement etc - with a 4 car by the time you've got to the front of the rear unit it's time to head back again and that's if no one stops you. I do walk through on a Saturday when it's a 2 car and much quieter.

    What I do do, though, for that train, is make an announcement to let anyone boarding at Dore know I'm in the back cab packing up but if they need a ticket before Sheffield to come back and see me and I will happily sell them one - it's surprising how many people take you up on it.
     
  19. Lytham Local

    Lytham Local Member

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    That's a very good analogy. Like it.
     
  20. Killingworth

    Killingworth Established Member

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    I like that attitude because too often guards make no effort to check or collect the low value ticket income on that 6 or 7 minute leg. I've surprised a couple of Northern guards by offering my fare on leaving Sheffield Platform 2c - although to be fair they're usually late and needing a quick turn around.

    The TVM at Dore had its software updated this week, confusing everyone and many hadn't time to get tickets. Reported out of tickets at 8.30, refilled at 11.52. Was saying it was out of tickets again by 18.00 this evening. Regular users know the station is busier than annual passenger number estimates indicate, but to use two rolls of tickets in 6 hours isn't credible!! No wonder so many folks claim they couldn't get a ticket, and it's hard to prove otherwise.
     
  21. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Established Member

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    As in V1 (“Vee One”) = primitive mis-guided missile, likely to cut out and crash causing carnage and destruction at any moment?
     
  22. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Curiously, the reverse happened to me at Apperley Bridge a couple of months ago (so it may have changed): around 1400 the first single fare offered to Shipley was the peak one - OK only 10p different, but I bought the wrong one in a hurry!

    Incidentally, the pop-up "cheaper fare" box also confuses me - what does clicking on "continue"(I think that's the wording, I can check tomorrow!) mean? Accept the cheaper option or ignore it?
     
  23. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    V1 means to me the speed that an aircraft is going to take off whether there's a problem or not. Such as the point the train arrives at Dore, at which point you board and chance your arm with the RPIs not being there... :)

    But that aside, I was referring to the UNIX text editor application "vi", which I think stands for "VIsual editor", which is notoriously awkward to use but once you master it and learn the commands can be incredibly quick. I think that's true of the Scheidt & Bachmann default TVM UI too - now I've mastered it I can get a ticket out within less than 30 seconds, about 15 of which are it printing.

    More on vi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vi
     
  24. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Established Member

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    Thanks, Bletchleyite.
     
  25. M!T

    M!T Member

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    This is precisely the kind of ambiguity that user testing exposes and enables designers to engineer out so there can be no doubt as to the meaning of something presented to a customer by the user interface, hence my suspicion that there is no UX team and that there has been no user testing. UX design is all about designing something to work the way that users expect it to by giving real users a chance to participate in, and inform, an iterative design process. I suspect these machines have been designed by committees of "experts".
     
  26. Killingworth

    Killingworth Established Member

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    I wonder how easy it is for Polish, French, Spanish and German speakers to understand? Promise to pay is the same in all languages, apparently incapable of translation. No Asian languages.
     

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  27. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    "Drag here to move" - move what?

    I know what it is - "to move this panel up or down to your eye level" - so why not say that?
     
  28. PR1Berske

    PR1Berske On Moderation

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    An issue across the country, really. More integration, more joined up thinking, and we would have tickets available for the railways, buses and who knows what else in one place. Too much fracturing, unfortunately.

    (I'd love to see Day Rangers on ticket machines but this also seems unlikely.)
     
  29. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Less so the obscure leisure ones aimed mainly at enthusiasts, which you could just sell via a dedicated website and be done with it, but things like the GM Ranger and Wayfarer are mainstream products which can be the best choice for a "normal" user just like a Travelcard in London (at least pre-contactless) and really should be on there.
     
  30. takno

    takno Established Member

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    Dragging has usability issues for lots of users anyway, and is often impossible on screens like that. Far better to have three positions for the buttons and have buttons marked something like "move buttons up" and "move buttons down".

    The screen is also far too cluttered. You don't need the title because it's just repeating what the buttons say. You don't need a basket because it's inane to mention one until the one time in a hundred when somebody gets to the end of the selection process and realises they want to buy an unrelated ticket. You don't need to mention "promise to pay" until somebody comes to pay and realises it doesn't take cash (a static notice next to the machine explaining what to do if you only have cash would be more useful).

    Do that and you've probably halved the time people have to spend looking at the machine.
     

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