Dear Transport for London,
On 17 July 2017, Simon Guild responded to my FOI request with the above title dated 26 October 2016 (see https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/b...). This concluded as follows:-
"However, one other potential factor in the reduction in the number of requests for non-current working timetables is likely to be that the requester can obtain them from other sources, such as the resources at http://mjcarchive.www.idnet.com/wt_index...
Whilst we are not able to justify the expense of extracting the non-current working timetables in response to individual requests, there is a plan to extract the scheduling information as a result of some future system maintenance. You have referred to the possibility of crowdsourcing the extraction of this data and this would provide an opportunity for a site such as mjcarchive to receive a copy of this data on a non-exclusive
basis, in the expectation that mjcarchive would in turn make it available to others to download from the site. It is expected that a decision on the maintenance will be taken in the next three months, and we will contact you again at this time to advise you of the expected schedule."
On 27 October I annotated the thread with a request for an update, the three months having expired. As this was an annotation I appreciate this may have been overlooked.
A further three months (and then a bit) has since passed, so I am now requesting an update formally. I am assuming that it is simply delay, as any decision to abandon the proposed crowdsourcing would surely have been communicated to me. It would also have brought the mismatch between what had been said and what was actually done back to the top of the agenda. The crowdsourcing approach should effectively get round this without placing an ongoing burden upon TfL, so I would like an undertaking that it is still going to happen some time.
Dear Transport for London,
You have not responded to my FOI request of 13th February. Indeed you have not even sent an acknowledgement. By law you should have responded by 13th March.
Perhaps it is being handled by someone with an acute sense of irony, as the FOI request was seeking to ascertain what progress had been made on an approach to data release proposed by TfL on 27th July 2017, complete with undertaking to be in touch within three months. Which did not happen, hence my follow up request.
More irony - that response on 27th July was the first substantive response to a request that I made in October 2016. To which no response, even an acknowledgement, was received within a month. That led me to ask for an internal review and I had to chase THAT up because no response was forthcoming.
So history repeats itself several times over. I'm reminded of the celebrated words of Major Burns in M*A*S*H - just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't out to get me.
I am aware that the FOI team has had staffing issues. That is not something that provides a get-out clause under the law though I have until now been prepared to allow reasonable latitude. The repeated failure to meet deadlines on this issue, right back to 2016, is not however reasonable.
Please reply quickly, or it will be another internal review request or even (though I would prefer to avoid this) involving the Information Commissioner.
Dear Mr Clary,
Please accept my apologies for the failure on our part to provide you with a timely update.
I have recently taken up the position of Information Access Manager and have just picked this up. My initial understanding is that the plan outlined to you by my predecessor Simon Guild remains our intention. I have written to the relevant team asking for an update, specifically around timescales on the data migration that will allow this to be possible, and will get back to you as soon as I am able.
I am sorry that I am unable to provide a more detailed update at this stage but I just wanted to reassure you that this is being worked on.
Information Access Manager
Thanks for the reply, Lee. That's all I really wanted to know at this stage - that it is still the plan and nobody had overlooked it and dropped the data into the Thames or something. I did send a letter independently of FOI to Simon Guild after the plan was first mooted last summer but given the changeover that occurred you may not have seen that.
Dear Mr Clary,
I am happy to inform you that we have now completed the process of publishing the historic bus schedules on our website. You can find the results at the following link: https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publication...
Please be aware that the zip file which you can download at this link contains all of the historic bus schedules that we hold.
Information Access Manager
Thank you for letting me know. This mammoth exercise will serve as an invaluable source of material for future research.
I reckon that there about 58,000 expired Working Timetables in the file, although about 18,000 of them have been current at some stage since the Working Timetable Graveyard started life so are already there.
The file takes a long time to download and extract - users should note that it decompresses to about 36GB of data.
The individual timetables are in XML format, whereas the live WTTs are in PDF form. Could you please confirm that there are no plans now to release the expired WTTs as PDFs?
I also observe that there is generally only one "option/version" available for each route/SCN combination. This is generally fine but the 281R is an example of where the different versions serve different purposes (different rugby KO times) rather than one superseding another, so those variations have fallen down the cracks.
The information that the XML files is slightly different from that in the PDFs. It would be downright churlish to complain about this given the amount of work that has gone into this but I would be grateful if someone could confirm that I am not missing something.
Present in the PDFs but not in the XML:
- The comment attached to the Service Change Number (e g END OF TEMP DIVERSION)
- The version number and operator (though both can be deduced from the file name)
- Number of vehicles used on schedule (though this can probably be calculated reliably)
- Table of crosslinks (though this can probably be worked out reliably)
- Form (formation?) time for next trip (though this can probably be deduced)
- Location of driver relief (I can see no way of determining this)
- Whether relief is a meal relief or the end of a duty (this may be capable of being deduced)
Present in the XML but not in the PDF:
- End date of schedule
- Operator schedule reference
- Lists of all stops served, not just those used as timing points
- Route and number of previous trip
- Mileage in and out of service for each trip
- Garage code (though I am not sure this is accurate when two garages are involved)
- Arrival times as well as departure times for all timing points (though usually there is no difference)
Is there any plan to add newly expired WTTs at some stage? Preferably through occasional updates containing schedules which have expired since the last update (nobody wants to download all the old ones again each time!).
Finally, a word of thanks to all who have got us to this stage. It has been a long road but we are there, albeit in a slightly different place.
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