Computer bug hits bus information tables

THE Millennium Bug has claimed its first major casualty in Suffolk – the state of the art real time passenger information service at an Ipswich bus station.

By Graham Dines

THE Millennium Bug has claimed its first major casualty in Suffolk – the state of the art real time passenger information service at an Ipswich bus station.

For nearly a year, frustrated passengers at Suffolk's biggest transport interchange have been left to their own devices, trying to find the time of the next bus.

Long distance coach journeys and rural bus services start at finish from the Old Cattle Market station in Ipswich. But last year, it was plunged back into the dark ages when its overhead electronic timetable crashed because it was not Year 2000 compliant.


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Although the system had struggled along for a couple of years after the turn of the millennium, it gradually became more and more unreliable, giving inaccurate and out of date times for bus departures.

Because of the problem, Suffolk County Council officers decided to shut it down completely. Initially destination boards simply read "Out of Order" but earlier this year, the signs were altered to read "Welcome to Ipswich Bus Station."

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The system was replaced by printed timetable information at each stop, leaving passengers unfamiliar with the bus station's lay out to wander around looking for correct lay-by from which to catch their bus.

Chris Seaman, the network services manager in the council's environment and transport department, said: "The computer operating the system was not Year 2000 compliant.

"This mean that over time, the information being relayed on the electronic boards became reliable and we took the decision to close it down completely rather than mislead passengers."

Mr Seaman added: "We then went out to tender for a revised system, but this has suffered some software glitches.

"I am hopeful that the new real time information service will be fully operational at the end of next month."

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