In Canberra, when you catch a bus from point A to point B a small paper ticket is printed out, however, when you catch a bus from point A to point B via point C (from this point forward, referred to as a transfer ticket) the bus driver needs to give you a credit card sized piece of paper which then needs to be slotted into a ticket checking machine.
The transfer ticket has a magnetic strip on one side – this side has an arrow – actually its a line with two arrow heads – one in each direction. On the other side one half of the ticket is a pale blue/purple with the word “ACTION” printed on it. On the ticket checking machine there is a credit card sized sticker which shows the side of the card which is half blue/purple, although on the bus I caught yesterday it was quite faded.
Now the trick is to insert the ticket into the machine exactly the way that the driver gives it to you – although they won’t tell you this at the time. And there was my mistake – I inserted the ticket incorrectly which caused the bus driver to errupt. This has happened to me before with other bus drivers so I was not peturbed – what did throw me was the fact that the bus was now moving. Anyway – to cut a long story, well, medium – I stuffed it up again which caused the driver to use some colourful language again.
Now – I am not blameless – I failed to read the graphics on the ticket machine correctly – but I am sometimes think that this system would really fail some very basic usability tests, and when you are in the doorway of a moving vehicle I think usability is pretty important.
I would suggest that ACTION actually looks at employing ticket machines which can read the cards which ever way you put them in. The bus driver wouldn’t have to worry about handing the ticket to the passenger in any special way and they wouldn’t get the loud beep in their ear – which I suspect is one of the reasons they get some grumpy (that and stupid passengers like me).
As an interim (and perhaps ongoing) measure I suggest that they change the tickets so that on the side which is inserted face up – a HUGE one-way arrow is printed. Thats all from me (the bus usability expert).