Fed up with buses vanishing from the timetable? Go to FixMyTransport


FixMyTransport (http://www.fixmytransport.com/) is a new web site run by those excellent people at MySociety. MySociety also runs TheyWorkForYou (http://www.theyworkforyou.com/), which tells you what your MP and Parliament is up to, FixMyStreet (http://www.fixmystreet.com/) for reporting local problems to councils, and WhatDoTheyKnow (http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/) for Freedom of Information requests. There is a full list at mySociety – our projects (http://www.mysociety.org/projects/).

Subtitled “Euston, we have a problem” FixMyTransport was built to help resolve common public transport problems and is aimed at smaller problems such as “persistently broken ticket machines, buses that always leave early, or silly rules that appear to do nothing but create inconvenience for travellers.” Sound familiar? Want to do something about it other than moan? Use FixMyTransport to report a problem and they will send it to the relevant company or authority. Any reports or messages you send will be public and you cannot use this site to directly apply for compensation for cancelled or severely delayed trains.

Each train company has its own Passenger’s Charter and levels of compensation for delays and the quickest way to apply is to download and use the train company’s form, which of course is usually well hidden. You could report the delay via FixMyTransport but the train company will probably reply that you need to use their form. Bear in mind that you have to apply within 28 days if your claim is to have any chance of success so going direct is the best way to ensure you submit your claim on time. A Google search may bring up the information you need but you might have to resort to an advanced ‘site:’ search on the train company’s web site, for example site:crosscountrytrains.co.uk delays compensation. A list of train operating companies is available on http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/tocs_maps/tocs/. There is also a list of Passenger’s Charters at “Train delays and cancellations – your complete guide to refunds and compensation” (http://www.bitterwallet.com/train-delays-and-cancellations-your-complete-guide-to-refunds-and-compensation/23772) but this is now out of date and four of the links no longer work.

FixMyTransport is still in beta and they welcome feedback on how you think it could be improved. If you use public transport in the UK, bookmark and use this site.

Google Related is not Google related:

Google recently announced a new toolbar called Google Related (http://www.google.com/related/). It is available as a Chrome extension and as part of the Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer but not for the latest versions of Firefox. Google Related displays a bar along the bottom of your screen that shows videos, maps, images and web pages relevant to the page you are currently on. Nothing new here, I thought. Google has had a related: command and links to similar pages next to entries on your results page for a long time but Google Related is in fact very different.

If I view similar results for the  First Great Western home page or type in related:http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/ I see a list of sites that are similar in type and content to First Great Western for example National Rail Enquiries, Virgin Trains, Trainline, Arriva, Southwestern Trains.

Google related command

If you have found a page that contains the type of information you are looking for ‘related:’ has always been a good way to find additional sites containing similar content and of similar quality. The option is also available on the Advanced Search screen, but you have to click on the ‘+ Date, usage rights, region, and more’ link and it is at the bottom of the page under ‘Page specific tools’ (Anyone would think they were trying to hide it from us!).

Google Related’s results are very different. Once installed it monitors every page you browse and offers content about or directly related to your current page.

Google Related Toolbar

Google does not always find related information for every page and currently only supports English language pages. I found that it worked for about 60% of pages that I viewed. There also seems to an unhealthy abundance of Wikipedia articles: one would be more than enough. It does sometimes come up with interesting additional information but there are times when it is not needed and its intrusion infuriating. I really do not want it getting in the way when I am booking train tickets, as in the above example, or listening to BBC Radio 4. Thankfully it can be switched off for individual pages or whole sites but I cannot see a way of switching it back on if I later change my mind. You should also be aware that Google personalizes the results of the Related bar by watching how you search and navigate the web, so what I see in the bar for a particular page will eventually not be what you see.

Overall, some of the information it finds is interesting but to be honest I have not found much that is vitally important to my search or browsing activity. If you are curious have a go and see if it works for you.