At the end of February I am attending World Information Architecture Day (WIAD) Manchester 2018. This is very exciting but does pose the question how is the best way to get to Manchester from a small village near Portsmouth?
After a bit of Googling I realised it is going to take about 4 hours whether I drive or take the train, but the benefit of the train is being able to use the time for other things, for instance reading or writing up my notes of the event.
So I started to look for tickets and this is where I hit an issue.
The system would not let me pick the train I wanted if I put in the whole journey. It insisted in giving me at least an hour to travel from London Waterloo to London Euston, while the web tells me that on a good day it will take 11 mins.
Seeing as I should arrive at Waterloo at 07:13 I thought getting the 08:00 from Euston was a reasonable idea, however the system insisted I get the 08:20. Now I’ll be late!
When I spoke to the train staff they said there was nothing to do but book them as two separate journeys, although that increases my fare by £20, “it’s just how the system is”.
And I do understand why. Not everyone would want to or can move as quickly as I can. For instance my mum is waiting for a knee op right now. She would probably want even longer if she had to make this journey, but the system would force her to get the 08:20 too.
If I was to make some changes I would start with a suggested journey time, where you do not need to rush but you will not be sitting on the platform for 45 minutes. Then give people the option of ‘I need a bit more time’. Obviously you need to make sure that people will be able to make their connection, but giving people some flexibility should not be a bad thing.
As always it is about balance. Making sure people have enough choice to be able to do what they need with out giving them so much choice that they cannot make a decision.