Northern Ticket Machine Update Issues

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

  1. northernman

    northernman Member

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    To expand on the testing.
    1. The software went through a number of design phases
    2. It was tested in the factory for errors, categorised and fixed
    3. We have had this software running on 10 machines since January
    4. Myself and other Northern colleagues have spend considerable time observing all types of customers using the software. This has been done both on site and remotely (VNC direct dial in). Where we noted people struggling we have committed to making changes.
    5. We have also shared it with stakeholders from RUG's and Transport Focus
     
  2. northernman

    northernman Member

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    Yes it was beta tested, since January at 10 locations across our network. Focus groups were only one part of the process.
     
  3. northernman

    northernman Member

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    Good feedback, thanks, Let me look at the cut over from peak to off peak
     
  4. northernman

    northernman Member

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    Sorry to hear you have had some problems at Bingley. We have been having some issues with the reliability of these two particular machines, and we talk to the ticket office team almost daily. With regards to contactless, it will have been a contactless reader fault, not helpful, so apologies for that.

    And in respect of your final comments, yes the supplier employed such testers. We have completed a huge amount of testing on this software, including a cautious roll out given its so different. However the need to achieve a committed obligation for smart season sales has driven the roll out, and we are monitoring the feedback carefully and even this week have a design workshop to discuss.
     
  5. northernman

    northernman Member

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    Thanks, Promise to Pay button doesn't translate, I have raised that, but the process and subsequent screens do translate, although my Polish is a little rusty :)
     
  6. northernman

    northernman Member

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    Good point! I will ask for a change to state ""drag here to move the screen".
     
  7. northernman

    northernman Member

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    Agreed, the basket on the first screen should not appear, Promise to Pay only appears on machines where its applicable, its also showing Parking, which we don't currently offer through our TVMs.
     
  8. northernman

    northernman Member

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    Northern Advance can be purchased there and then, there is no 15 minute wait
     
  9. northernman

    northernman Member

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    Really interesting feedback about delayed trains versus fares available. Remember that if a train is a peak time train, but delayed, its still classed as a peak time train, (unless theres a major incident and restrictions are lifted), so its a balance between ensuring the passenger gets the right fare for the right train. I will look into this further to see what I can do to improve the cut over process
     
  10. northernman

    northernman Member

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    Hello all,

    Thanks very much for your feedback. As the new software release roll out gathers pace (50% by close of play today), its really important that this kind of information can be gathered, so thanks!

    I am seeking to hold a review session in the near future and if you are local to Northern I'd welcome an on station meeting to discuss feedback and planned changes. Drop me a line on the forum.

    regards

    Ian Borthwick, Retail Systems Manager, Northern
     
  11. Muenchener

    Muenchener Member

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    Thanks for the above Ian. Obviously we are not there yet in terms of a seamless dispenser of tickets.
    My question is when, or if, Northern intend to dispense Rangers and Rovers via the TVM's? It can be a frustration at my local station when, despite normal operating hours, staff are not in the ticket office which then requires a return visit to buy the ticket.
     
    Last edited: 29 Jul 2019
  12. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Sounds good to be fair to you, cheers.
     
  13. xotGD

    xotGD Established Member

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    Last week I had to abandon an attempt to buy a ticket from the 'improved' machine next to the ticket office at Bingley and go to the ticket office. A total farce trying to buy a ticket. The next day I didn't even try to use the machine and went straight to the office. Meanwhile the machine on the platform was out of service on both Weds and Thurs mornings. Can we please have the old software reinstated? It used to be a simple process to buy a ticket - now it is not.
     
  14. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Established Member

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    Thanks, Ian, but remember that it isn’t just about software. The ergonomics are really important too. Ideally the project will have access to a climate chamber where testers can try buying tickets in pouring rain, freezing cold, bright sun in eyes or on screen, left handedly (whilst being tugged by large dog, whilst wearing sheepskin mittens, juggling a beverage container, reaching for card in zipped-inside pocket and so forth). All ‘against the clock’. Ideally with a good smattering of testers who don’t have English as a first language.
     
  15. Tim33160

    Tim33160 Member

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    At the beginning of the month, the ticket machine at Navigation Road on the Mid Cheshire Line had only Leeds showing as a popular destination, “ticket not available” if you select Manchester Piccadilly but no duo tickets

    Now Navigation Road has had its software updated. The ticket machine now automatically offers you a Duo fare if you buy tickets for two people, Now the bad news. The machine thinks it is on the Calder valley line? as the initial popular destinations screen still have “Leeds” which has now been joined by “Halifax”! Still cant get a ticket to Manchester Piccadilly!

    Cuddington TVM does not seem to have been modified – still no Duos. If you spell out Metrolink, you are offered various zone combinations but then only season tickets. They also offer Tyne and Wear Metro as a tease (bu no tickets available).
     
  16. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    And while we are at it can they be tested during storms, earthquakes, plagues of locust, alien invasion and zombie apocalypse?

    Seriously though, whilst testing in different temperature ranges and lighting is sensible (and no doubt part of the sign off for these devices), dealing with dogs, children, coffee cups and troublesome wallets are things that the end users need to deal with, as they would have to in all other facets of their lives.
     
  17. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Established Member

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    Having had the pleasure of ‘managing’ a significant population of (relatively primitive) ticket machines back in the 1980s I learnt a lot about human behaviour. As a ‘friend’ of my local station these days I often assist struggling and bemused Northern passengers.
    The point about the ‘situational’ features is that they can often be optimised from the word go with a little careful thought. Having a machine under a canopy, not facing the sun in the morning, with a handy shelf to put a drink or gloves on and a hook for a dog lead or toddler harness can immediately allow a user to get stuck in with both hands, e.g. one to hold a bank card and one to tap the screen.
    These sorts of enhancements can be far cheaper and quicker than re-writing software but achieve far more dramatic savings in time and increases in issue rate.
    Incidentally, during my studies in Japan there was a major earthquake and the worst typhoon in Tokyo for ten years. It was still possible to use the ticket machines reliably and quickly in a foreign language with the rain coming sideways in stair rods and a 100mph gale outside the door. The trains were still running too. Rather better than places like Hope and Bamford seem to manage at the moment.
     
    Last edited: 29 Jul 2019
  18. NorthernSpirit

    NorthernSpirit On Moderation

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    Before this new fangled design was rolled out I was able to purchase tickets from Brighouse to Trowbridge and or Westbury or Melksham without any problems (as part of my job I may be sent out at the last minute to commute to various suppliers). Sadly I'm unable to do this now and is highly fustrating, so as xotGD has stated above "Can we please have the old software reinstated?".
     
  19. tarq

    tarq Member

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    Ian, I tried to use the machine at Brighouse on Sunday and the machine was frozen on the ITSO screen. I reported it to the social media team and they said they would log the fault.

    Are there any plans to install a machine on the opposite platform at Brighouse (platform 1). I would expect that the vast majority of departing passengers use Platform 1 rather than Platform 2 as this is where the Leeds via Dewsbury / London KX / Huddersfield trains depart from. It’s circuitous walk from Platform 1 to Platform 2.
     
  20. tony_mac

    tony_mac Established Member

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    Presumably, the software logs all interactions - and you will have access to metrics such as:-
    average time to purchase ticket
    average number of screen presses to purchase ticket
    percentage of transactions left uncompleted
    You may need to do some work on the statistics to make the comparisons meaningful; while it's pretty standard stuff for a statistician, it is also easy to get it wrong and end up biasing the results - particularly when there is an incentive to bias the results.
    (apologies if this is obvious, but you would be surprised how haphazard some usability testing can be).

    Another standard technique is to test groups of users (in-house) with a script of specific actions (e.g., buy a single to Manchester, but a return to Clapham for 1 adult and 1 child with family railcard for tomorrow), and you can also see how often they ask for help completing the script. Again, it gives you slightly more organised data than just observing customers at random.
     
  21. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    I too have helped people through the process at my local station, its just a nice thing to do. However from my observations at this and two other stations I potentially pass through on my way to work, generally speaking I see many people quickly adapting to changes. The key is to try and make the signposting at the initial landing screen as intuitive as possible, although you will never have a system that doesn't leave at least some people confused.

    I currently work in developing systems, and associated UIs that many thousands of our staff will use. And whilst testing these to a limited user audience is essential, as is observation & feedback, you will never be able to cover even a fraction of possible scenarios with prescripted tests, you only really get to find out users really interact with systems when they are left to it. Which from was has been said above is what has happened in Northern's case.

    In terms of positioning there is a need to consider things like facing the sun, cover etc. However in the case of Northern many stations are pretty sparse, with limited space & options for placing machines without having to spend considerable amounts of money installing additional facilities, infrastructure etc. If the responses from Ian above are anything to judge by, Northern are willing to at least listen & engage on matters like these. And as a member of my local station's 'Friends Of' group, we have seen improvements to what is a very small, one platformed station through this engagement (something I have regularly banged on about on these forums).

    As for some of the 'nice to haves' you mention, whilst these might be of some limited benefit to some, things like shelves for coffee cups, hooks for dogs and small children (almost in a way sounds barbaric ;)) will all add cost to the building & procurement of the devices, as well as potentially maintenance as people knock their coffee over machines, and large dogs spooked by something tear out the hooks (and possibly parts of the casing depending on how they were secured). And as I said, these are really things that the users themselves should be thinking about, as they will likely be interacting with various other interfaces throughout their day. If you have children or a dog travelling with you, at any moment you could be distracted regardless of there being somewhere to attach leads or harnesses. And coffee cups can generally be quickly placed on the ground in front of you.

    No, get the UI right first and foremost. This is where the benefits will be best realised by making them as intuitive as possible. I'll be keeping a closer eye on the new version as it has rolled out to machines at the stations I use, and I'll be doubtless using it over the coming weeks.
     
  22. joke2711

    joke2711 Member

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    Perhaps you can help @northernman ... the software has been upgraded at Rainford and this morning I attempted to get a promise to pay as I only had cash with me. On the ticket machine I selected Promise to Pay and then it gave me a screen with popular journeys or plan your journey.
    I selected the plan your journey option and entered Manor Road (MNR). It then gave me a list of departures and arrival times but not for the 0712 service. This transaction was being undertaken around 0706. I didn't know what to do, so left it, and with no guard selling tickets on the short hop to Kirkby I bought my return ticket on arrival there. Have I missed something?
     
  23. takno

    takno Established Member

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    Providing a shelf should generally make it less likely the coffee is spilt on the machine, since it will be easier to place there than on top of the machine, and users won't be waving it towards the screen as they have to use the hand that's holding it to touch the screen.

    Not sure about putting coffee (or handbags, or backpacks as I rifle through them for the wallet in the bottom) on the ground. Even back in the days when I could bend down that far confident of still being able to get back up, the ground by ticket machines is often not flat or stable enough for the job. It's really not a significant cost compared to the terminal itself. Even phone boxes used to manage it.
     
  24. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    The problem is with the larger screen type TVMS is that there is no easy place to put anything like that, save attaching them to the side. But again, supplying a handy place to put a coffee (remembering again that many Northern stations have only just gained little more than a TVM & PIS, let alone anywhere to buy coffee) really won't come up as a high priority.
     
  25. takno

    takno Established Member

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    Are you seriously suggesting that a shelf is too fancy to fit on a station fitted with a platform, namesigns, lights, an electronic ticket machine, and often a primitive form of shelter?
     
  26. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    I'm saying it is not a priority, there are lots of improvements that can be made before worrying about people wandering around with a cup of coffee.
     
  27. 800002

    800002 Member

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    -m sorry, but can you gaive a list of current locations where such an arrangement is already in place?

    I can't think of any places on the SouthEastern route that does - inside the station building TVMs or at the shacks, out in the open.

    I'm tall enough to reach up and put my paper and coffee on top, but I do have to remember to pick them again!

    Personally, I think the manufacturers and TOC'S are just being a little shelfish about the whole thing.
     
  28. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Established Member

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    People are still missing the point about ergonomic factors.

    Even with relatively poor screen menus and software many users will become accustomed to buying ‘their’ ticket fairly quickly, thereby reducing transaction times.

    Whereas poor ergonomics will continue to delay people every time. E.g. the dog owner will always have to use the machine single handed or the cup-toter will always have to bend down to deposit and then retrieve their cup in the absence of a shelf.

    Somehow the rail industry can design a coupling to pull a 4,500 tonne freight train from the Mendips to London but Northern can’t come up with a hook that is proof against an excitable puppy pulling the side off a ticket machine. This forum is so resourceful at coming up with excuses for not making paying customers’ experiences more convenient.

    (There were two ticket purchasers with dogs on leads at Hope this morning, incidentally.)
     
  29. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    Northern, or for that matter other operators haven't been asked to, and obviously seen no need to. Are there any examples of ticket machines with special facilities for coffee cups and hooks for canine friends? I've used a lot of different types over the years but cannot recall anything built specifically for these purposes, nor do I recall there ever being some concerted campaign for them.

    Sorry but I'm afraid we are straying firmly into "first world problem" territory here. Relatively few people travel with their dogs, especially excitable puppies, and most people carrying cups of coffee can cope. There are plenty more ways of improving the customer experience using these machines, let's concentrate on those I say.
     
  30. takno

    takno Established Member

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    First world problems, experienced by people in the first world? Who'd have thought it? We are experiencing a wide-scale rollout of ticket machines to more places with no alternative vending options and fewer facilities than has commonly been the case in the past. Compared to an optional-to-use ticket machine, or one in an area where most journeys are done via Oyster, you are going to experience far more problems of all types. A shelf is a potentially very useful and reasonable adjustment which could make the machine usable by a whole range of people who struggle a lot currently, whether it's coffee they are struggling with or a bag or something else they are holding. Sure it's not a software upgrade, but it's a pretty cheap off-the-shelf (as it were) item which is available pre-designed for a whole range of environments.

    The new northern machines are actually worse for this than other machines because they've been designed with no flat surfaces so even if you can reach you can't put anything on the top, and you can't lean something against the screen without worrying about damaging or possibly accidentally pressing random buttons and ending up with an open return to Penzance
     

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